Backgrounder : Future Skills Council Report Overview
The Future Skills Council’s report, Canada – A Learning Nation, sets an ambitious vision of a thriving and dynamic workforce where everyone has a chance to succeed. It prioritizes lifelong skills development as key to building a skilled, agile workforce that is ready to shape the future of our country.
The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has brought into sharp focus many of the challenges facing underrepresented groups. Now more than ever, business, labour, education and training providers, Indigenous and non-profit organizations, and governments need to take action and work together.
The recommendations in this report reflect a diversity of perspectives heard by Council members from across many sectors. They speak to our current environment, and they support the Government of Canada’s priorities as highlighted in the 2020 Speech from the Throne, to:
- create a stronger, more resilient Canada;
- continue to create jobs;
- support Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors; and
- build long-term competitiveness with clean growth.
The Council is recommending five priorities and concrete areas for action:
Priority 1 – Help Canadians make informed choices
Jobseekers, workers and employers need easy-to-use and easy-to-access tools that provide reliable information on jobs, skills and training. This would go a long way toward reducing skills gaps that happen in an ever-changing economy. We must take action to:
- use new technologies so individuals can create personalized training plans;
- offer employment counselors and training providers better tools to improve career guidance; and
- engage business, labour, and non-profit organizations to identify transferable skills needed for all jobs.
Priority 2 – Equality of opportunity for lifelong learning
Canada needs a more inclusive labour market. Structural and systemic barriers need to be removed so groups such as youth, women, people with disabilities, Black and other racialized individuals and Indigenous Peoples can fully participate in skills training and get jobs. We must take action to:
- support employers as they integrate diversity and inclusion in their workforce;
- address the unique needs of Canadians with customized employment and skills support;
- provide additional supports like affordable housing, subsidized childcare, income supports, transportation, funding for training, and tax deductions;
- protect workers’ jobs when they take time off for training; and
- ensure access to high-speed internet and reliable telecommunications.
Priority 3 – Skills development to support Indigenous self-determination
On the path to reconciliation, we have learned that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations are best placed to design and deliver strategies, programs and services for their own people and communities. Skills training and lifelong learning are no different. We must take action to:
- provide culturally-appropriate supports to help Indigenous students, such as mentorship programs;
- support Indigenous entrepreneurs in developing business skills and encourage peer-to-peer learning;
- support skills development for quality jobs in growth areas;
- prioritize access to high-speed internet and reliable telecommunications in rural, northern and remote Indigenous communities; and
- encourage collaboration between non-Indigenous and Indigenous organizations to co-develop recruitment, training and retention strategies.
Priority 4 – New and innovative approaches to skills development and validation
The workforce of the future will need to meet rapidly changing job demands. Organizations will need to stay up to date on new ways to provide training and address workers’ learning needs, while also meeting operational demands. We must take action to:
- encourage greater collaboration between employers, educational institutions and training providers;
- use new technologies to create new ways for workers to learn;
- ensure workers have access to a range of flexible training options;
- support more on-the-job training, and
- create tools that map skills acquired over time through both training and on the job experience.
Priority 5 – Skills development for sustainable futures
As we prepare for the jobs of the future, we need to make sure we embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. In an age of emerging technologies and environmental concerns, we must equip communities for change, prepare jobseekers for in-demand jobs and support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We must take action to:
- invest in workforce as part of community development;
- help SMEs to develop and implement training plans with particular focus on digital skills;
- grow capacity in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence; and
- speed up transition to a low-carbon emissions economy and clean technology growth.
Change is now, and change will continue. We must lean in and take action. By working together, all of us – business, labour, education and training providers, Indigenous and non-profit organizations, and governments – can build a learning nation that will benefit every Canadian, every community, and our country as a whole.
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