Help Wanted report may help the skilled trades out of their worker shortage, says RESCON

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A report recently released by the Toronto Regional Board of Trade, the United Way Greater Toronto, and the Metcalf Foundation, is being lauded by a builders association as a roadmap out of the current skilled labour shortage in the construction industry.

The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) says the report, entitled Help Wanted: Modernizing Employment and Skills Training Services in Ontario is a well-timed guide for the direction skilled trades should travel.

In addition to the six guiding principles the report lines up, it offers seven recommendations going forward:

  • Support new service managers with regional labour market information.
  • Develop partnerships with local industry employers.
  • Provide flexible and continuous wraparound support following employment placement.
  • Encourage innovative approaches to serve the most vulnerable.
  • Target training resources to incumbent and mid-career workers.
  • Align with infrastructure and workforce investments.
  • Invest in capacity building, technical assistance and document learning about what works.

“We are supportive of efforts to align programs to reflect the real and current needs of employers,” said RESCON vice-president Andrew Pariser in a press release.      “For the sake of stability and sustainability, our industry is dependent upon a skilled workforce and a talent pipeline that will prepare future generations of construction workers. That’s why we support this report’s seven recommendations.”

In its foreword, Help Wanted says that it should be viewed as a starting point for discussions on how to proceed in improving the efficiency of skills training. “We believe that inclusive and effective talent development is critical to the competitiveness of our economy, and the health and prosperity of our communities,” it says.

The inadequacy of the current training model for skilled labour has been documented by several studies in past years, including the 2016 and 2018 Auditor General Reports and the 2017 Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation Report. Help Wanted says its research points out very clearly that there’s a disconnect between people who need jobs, and employers who need workers.

“There are significant regional differences in how communities across Ontario are experiencing this tight labour market, but two overwhelmingly consistent trends occur: there are jobs without people, and people without jobs,” the report reads. “The system is largely unresponsive to the local needs of employers and a changing economy.”

The report makes mention of the provincial governments announcements that it will overhaul skilled trades training, Employment Services, and social assistance, saying that transitions to more effective systems may be difficult, but it is much-needed.

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