Training the Workforce: How Canada Measures Up in Skills and Job Training

By Tara Padidar

As companies are looking to make their new hires for 2012, businesses and hiring managers need to take a closer look at whether or not proper training programs are in place for newly hired staff – an important part of the recruitment process that is often missed by Canadian companies across industries.

A report by the Canadian Policy Research Networks reveals that knowledge and skills training will be pivotal for Canada to compete in the global marketplace. Retiring baby boomers, a shrinking workforce, and a shift towards a knowledge economy are just some of the reasons why Canadian employers, governments, and institutions need to make investments in the workforce.

According to Sandra Miles, HR expert and president of Miles Employment Group, “The reoccurring problem that employers and employees are facing is that there is a gap in the workplace in terms of expectations. Companies are looking to hire employees with a certain level of skills and knowledge, however most companies are not injecting the time or money into on-the-job training.”

Supporting statistics from the Canadian Policy Research Networks report reveal that Canada is slipping in twentieth place in terms of the priority employers place on employee training. Fewer than 30 per cent of adult workers in Canada aged 25-64 participated in job related education and training in comparison to 45 per cent in the States. As a percentage of their overall payroll, US firms spend about 50 per cent more on training than Canadian firms. Canada now sits behind the US, UK, Norway, Germany and other European countries in overall job training.

Sandra reminds employers that in order for the expectation gap to be filled, organizations need to realize the importance of training their employees. No longer can employers expect to hire a candidate with all of the specified wants immediately – they should expect to train their new hires to fulfill the tasks and skills as necessary.

Beyond the hire, continued learning has also become a career necessity. As a Perspectives on Labour and Income report states, “In nearly all industries, technological change is placing an ever-higher value on skills. This often requires some kind of training, whether it be learning to run a machine processing oil sands or to use software analyzing investments.”

One example of a company that is putting a significant investment in training its staff can be found in the automotive industry. Collision repair chain Kirmac Collision has invested in an extensive “Leadership Development Program” for all of its newly hired employees, as well as existing managers. The program trains on a variety of aspects, including leadership, ethics, needs-based selling practices, and more. The program utilizes a range of education tools such as case studies and propriety course materials developed in-house.

Kirmac Collision’s director of operations, Peter Vajda explains, “Kirmac’s Leadership Development Program allows us to nurture people who can deliver in an industry that is heavily customer service-based. At Kirmac, we believe that training and learning is an ongoing process and we place a huge priority in equipping our team with everything they need to succeed.”

Training programs like Kirmac’s will be key for many other organizations to be able to attract and retain talent. Moreover, such investments will be key for Canada to remain competitive. As the Canadian Policy Research Networks paper outlines, investing in the training and skills development of the workforce will pay off in the long term, contributing to Canada’s economic growth.

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Category: Training & Teambuilding

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