Workforce Development & Skills Shortage Trends in Ontario

The Government of Ontario has projected that by 2019 a total of 323,000 jobs will be created, but many of these positions will go unfilled. This is mainly attributed to employers’ inability to find properly trained and/or educated candidates to fill their roles. This growing challenge has made it difficult for business owners to develop a robust workforce, restricting their growth plans.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)’s recent report, Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario, highlights the growing skills mismatch faced by employers across the province. The findings suggest that Ontario-based businesses are struggling to access the talent needed to fill their growing workforce gaps based on several factors, including high turnover rates and job dissatisfaction.

To address workforce development barriers, the OCC has developed a summary of recommendations that focus on improving recruitment processes. In turn, businesses will have the tools and ability to improve capacity, productivity, and competitiveness.

Growing Skills Shortage Faced by Employers in Ontario

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)’s Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario report examined the escalating supply and demand mismatch faced by employers. In 2017, 82% of businesses surveyed by OCC indicated that they’ve had difficulty recruiting new, qualified employees. Many of these employers cited a deficit in communication skills, tech capabilities, organizational awareness, and interpersonal skills.

Skills shortages are also a result of many students pursuing careers in fields with very limited opportunities. When they are unable to find a job, they end up working in positions where they are overqualified and unsatisfied.

To confront workforce development barriers, OCC has suggested that the provincial government and businesses should focus on:

  1. Experiential Learning Opportunities;
  2. Systems-Based Approach to Training; and
  3. Updating Existing Apprenticeship Framework.

This will allow businesses to provide training opportunities for new and existing employees and help students transition from the classroom into the workforce.

OCC Recommendations for Addressing Workforce Skills Shortage

To tackle skills shortage issues across Ontario, the OCC has created a list of recommendations to ensure that the businesses are well positioned to support the workforce development in partnership with government assistance. The recommendations are as follows:

Experiential Learning Opportunities:

  1. Address the limited capacity of small and medium businesses to facilitate experiential learning opportunities by leveraging existing networks;
  2. Direct employer awareness of existing funding programs that support experiential learning opportunities in Ontario; and
  3. Develop experiential learning opportunities to foster inclusive economic growth across Ontario.

Systems-Based Approach to Training:

  1. Improve client centricity; and
  2. Determine the potential of implementing an outcomes-based employment and training systems funding model.

Updating Apprenticeship Framework:

  1. Review and revise the current journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio framework;
  2. Provide apprenticeship consortiums with greater support;
  3. Update apprenticeship application processes;
  4. Improve the Ontario College of Trades; and
  5. Promote skilled trades careers.

Ontario Government Funding for Workforce Development Initiatives

One government support mechanism to inspire skills development within businesses comes in the form of government funding. To help business owners expand their workforce, the Government of Ontario offers various funding programs to offset the cost of hiring and training employees. These programs help cover employee salaries and third-party training expenses associated with workforce development. Some of the small business funding opportunities that employers can explore, include:

Funding for Hiring

In Ontario, small business grants are available to help employers minimize payroll costs. Throughout the year, businesses can leverage government funding to offset the cost of hiring post-secondary students and recent graduates. Businesses may be eligible to access up to 50% to offset an intern’s payroll cost to a maximum of $14,000-20,000 over 4-12 months.

Related Post: 2017 Wage Subsidy Programs and Hiring Grants for Canadian Employers

The Government of Ontario also provides funding to businesses hiring workers with disabilities. Two options employers can use to offset the cost of hiring disabled workers are:

  1. Up to 50% coverage of employee wages to a maximum $13,500 in Ontario government grants for 3 to 9 months; or
  2. Up to $20,000 to offset salary and specialized training of employees for up to 12 weeks OR up to 90% coverage assistive devices, specialized training, and assessments to a maximum of $3,000 per application.

Related Post: Ontario Government Funding for Hiring Workers with Disabilities

Funding for Training

The Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) provides training grants to help employers enhance their workforce by upskilling new and existing employees. Ontario government funding can be used to offset the costs of providing third-party training programs. By investing in workforce development, businesses can enhance productivity and increase company capabilities.

Eligible applicants may receive up to 66-83% of third-party training costs to a maximum $10,000 in Ontario government grants, per trainee.

Compare Ontario Government Funding Programs for Small Businesses

Throughout the year, businesses take on various projects to support growth and development and the government makes it easier by offsetting expenses with grants and loans. Business owners and executives can learn more about federal and provincial funding programs by downloading Mentor Works’ Compare Funding Types slide deck.

Discover government grants and loans available to support your strategic projects by downloading Mentor Works’ Compare Funding Types slide deck.

Types of Canadian Small Business Funding

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Katlynd Poulton holds an Honours Bachelor of Public Relations with Distinction at Conestoga College. She believes in the power of communication and how it can fuel business success. As Mentor Works' Online Marketing Intern, Katlynd engages with business owners and executives through social platforms. ​​​​​​

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