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Now Is the Time to Build Skills—and Careers

Two plus years into the global pandemic, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that as far as employment and careers are concerned, it’s all bad news. But the fact is that Canada’s job numbers have surged ahead, and despite the threat of disruption posed by Omicron, it’s clear that Canadian workers are engaged in the job market like never before, and searching for new opportunities. The question is—how do Canadian workers build the right skills for these new opportunities, so they can quickly find the path to a career? 

Two plus years into the global pandemic, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that as far as employment and careers are concerned, it’s all bad news. But the fact is that Canada’s job numbers have surged ahead, and despite the threat of disruption posed by Omicron, it’s clear that Canadian workers are engaged in the job market like never before, and searching for new opportunities. 

The question is—how do Canadian workers build the right skills for these new opportunities, so they can quickly find the path to a career? 

It’s an important question, because what we know is that when it comes to job training programs, the record is mixed. Analysis of traditional job retraining shows these initiatives often fail to connect workers to sectors where employers are hiring. Policymakers are beginning to understand  that not all training strategies deliver the results Canadian workers—and the businesses looking for them—need right now. 

So, how do we make skills training work? Analysts believe that effective training depends on different factors. Of course, the quality of programs matters, as does the availability of funding and resources for participants. But there is an emerging consensus that the most successful training programs are ones that align workers with growth industries and businesses searching for people with the right skills. 

We know that Canada already has one of the world’s best-educated workforces, so traditional training programs focused on general skills are clearly not the answer. Instead, the results show that pivoting to so-called demand driven training leads to better long-term outcomes for Canadian workers, and for the economy as a whole. 

What makes these demand-driven programs work is their focus on working with growing industries. The first step is to identify areas where businesses need to hire, and then find out what skills new workers must have in order to succeed. This kind of consultation with industry is important, because as Arvind Gupta, CEO of Palette Skills points out, the right kind of upskilling strategy is the one that sees industry as an essential partner. 

Tailoring training to industry needs is one thing. But there’s another ingredient essential to the recipe for career success, and that is helping workers develop the “soft skills” required to help them follow a career path. After all, a career isn’t just about credentials. It’s also about honing the right professional skills that can help convert a job into a lasting career. Often, workers can easily access technical training through traditional avenues such as colleges, or even learn on the job. 

What’s harder is learning the professional and leadership skills that so many industries are looking for. 

With so many Canadian workers eager to move ahead, and with new opportunities for business growth emerging more quickly than ever, there’s never been a better time to build skills—and careers. 

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