Jumping the Career Skills Gap

Toronto, ON:The Canadian workforce is facing a skills gap crisis, but who is responsible for getting workers up to speed with new technologies and employment needs? A new survey from Randstad, the nation’s largest human resources and staffing company, finds most workers believe it’s their employers.

An overwhelming 91 percent of respondents indicated the employer should be responsible for ensuring workers are properly trained. However, many companies simply don’t have it in their budget to provide training.

Programs like the new Canada Job Grant allow the government to share the cost of upgrading a company’s workforce, but these measures are slow moving. In fact, the Job Grant won’t even be implemented until 2017.

In the meantime, the study also finds 8 in 10 workers feel the demands of their job are higher now than five years ago. So if skills programs aren’t offered through the employer and may not be in the foreseeable future, what’s a Canadian worker to do?

“You can’t rely on your employer to provide the training to keep you at the top of your field,” saysJeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “In a weak economy like this one, you have to take any steps you can to give yourself a competitive advantage in your job. Otherwise, you can end up facing a layoff when your job is moved to greener pastures.”

Of course, the tradeoff for a worker improving their skills is the potentially high cost of more education. According to the OECD, Canada already has the highest rate of tertiary university education in the world. And with mounting problems with student debt, formal education may be out of reach for many workers if they have to seek it on their own.

Consolidated Credit offers to three tips to help workers get ahead:

  1. 1. Take steps to learn new computer programs and software related to your job. There are plenty of free online resources and training videos on YouTube for almost any software on the market. Most companies simply want proof a worker is proficient with software, rather than formal certification.
  2. 2. Join groups on professional social networks. Social media sites like LinkedIn have professional groups you can join that often offer free training to members of the group. Browse groups related to a career field and request membership.
  3. 3.Ask the employer for specific training at the lowest cost possible. Take time to go online to find relevant training courses that have a low cost. Once you find something, send the information to your boss. Often, employers are willing to pay for low-cost skill building, but don’t have the time or resources to find the courses an employee would need.

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