Bye-bye four-year degree. Canadian companies want workers faster

The skills shortage is so acute the private sector is stepping up training programs tailored for the jobs on offer rather than wait for universities

Author of the article: Bianca Bharti, Financial Post, Publishing date: Jun 07, 2021

Opinion: The skills gap is real and to survive it companies must develop strategies which should include multiple ways to recruit and grow their workforce. Looking at individuals without a four-year degree is just one of the many ways a company can stay ahead of the gap.

Last summer, Marcos Chumacero, an out-of-work bar manager, lolled about his downtown Toronto apartment as the world slowed to a crawl and the federal government went on COVID-19 damage control.

“Like everyone else in my industry, I was collecting CERB,” he recalled, referring to the $2,000-per-month emergency benefit.

A chance call to an acquaintance in social work changed his life. The friend told Chumacero, 30, about NPower, a charity that retrains younger workers who lack computer skills for jobs in the information-technology (IT) industry. He applied and was accepted into a three-month program in September that taught computer protocols and networking among other related subject matter.

No more CERB.

By January, Chumacero had landed a job at Touchbistro Inc., a payments software firm for restaurants, as a bilingual product technician. He’s earning slightly less than the $5,000 per month he averaged as an experienced bartender, but that income came with 60-hour work weeks. Touchbistro asks for only 40 hours per week. The new job is also secure, comes with benefits and offers a path for upward career growth.

“They were not just looking for someone who was tech savvy, but someone who was outgoing, well spoken, obviously bilingual in this case, and that had the drive to learn fast,” he said.

There is a war on talent right now right across Canada and a lot of companies … can't hire fast enough ROB DAVIS, CHIEF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION OFFICER AT KPMG CANADA

Tech companies have struggled to find qualified workers for years. The skills shortage is now even more acute because the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated the shift to a digital economy in which STEM skills and knowledge are key. For example, education, which has been carried out largely on the internet for the past year, is now at a place that some experts thought would take a decade to reach, according to a report last year by the federal Industry Strategy Council.

But Canada’s workforce wasn’t ready for such a drastic shift, as most of the jobs were in non-technical sectors, such as healthcare and social assistance, retail, and construction. The mismatch is forcing the private sector to step up with training programs tailored for the jobs on offer, rather than wait on a post-secondary education system based on a four-year university degree. Read the entire article here: Bye-bye four-year degree. Canadian companies want workers faster | Financial Post

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