Discussions of Canada’s so-called ‘skills gap’ have reached a fever pitch. Driven by conflicting reports and data, the conversation shows no signs of abating. On the one hand, economic indicators commonly used to identify gaps point to problems limited to only certain occupations (like health occupations) and certain provinces (like Alberta) rather than to a general skills crisis. On the other hand, employers continue to report a mismatch between the skills they need in their
workplaces and those possessed by job seekers, and to voice concern that the postsecondary system is not graduating students with the skills they need.
For some employers and commentators, the skills gap problem is one involving too few highly skilled workers in the Canadian labour market. For others, it is a problem related to weak essential skills, such as working with others, oral communication and problem solving. Still others use the term “skills gap” to refer to what might better be described as an “experience gap” – a shortage of “work-ready” employees possessing those skills that employers claim can only be acquired through work experience. To address the conflicting views on Canada’s skills gap and to argue that a better understanding of Canada’s skills problem is hindered by disagreement over what actually constitutes a skills gap, HEQCO recently published The Great Skills Divide: A Review of the Literature.