Shaping the Framework for an Ontario Labour Force Strategy

A report completed by McKinsey Global Institute (The world at work: Jobs, pay and skills for 3.5 billion people, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2012, p.2-3) warns that the forces that have caused imbalances in advanced economies in recent years will grow stronger and that similar mismatches between the skills those workers can offer and what employers seek will appear in developing economies. The result will be that far too few workers will have advanced skills needed to drive a high-productivity economy and there will be far too few job opportunities for low skill workers in developing economies.  Bottom line:  the demand for talent is heating up and unless strategic approaches are taken, Ontario will find itself on a slippery slope.

A province that was once seen as a key attractor of talent is now finding itself on the losing end. Between 2002 and 2011, all provinces and territories, with the exception of Ontario, saw their immigration numbers rise — threefold for Manitoba, double in Alberta, five times higher in Saskatchewan and 17 times higher in Prince Edward Island. In Ontario, immigration numbers dropped from 133,600 to 99,500, mainly due to the loss of manufacturing jobs and active recruitment efforts by other provincial governments.

Net interprovincial migration fell to a 32-year low in Ontario, which saw a net outflow.

Yet Ontario continues to operate and plan without a provincial strategy, while those provinces that are attracting talent have invested in a workforce strategy that serves as a roadmap. Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, to name a few, have make the investment and commitment – yet Ontario has not moved this important initiative forward. So what is holding us back?

On Feb 4, Economic Developers Council of Canada (EDCO) kicks off its annual conference with a pre-conference roundtable that explores this very issue. Examining the key elements that are necessary in Ontario’s strategy and the barriers which may need to be overcome, this 3 hour session will inform a white paper on this topic.

I’d like to invite you to be part of the conversation. Share your thoughts in the comments below or follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #onwkstrategy. Your insights are important!