Shocking forty per cent of Canadian employees lack basic skills

Maths and literacy might have to move higher up HR’s agenda after a new report shows many employees aren’t adept enough to do their jobs well.

Shocking forty per cent of Canadian employees lack basic skills
A large percentage of employees are under-equipped to do their jobs and it’s hurting Canada’s productivity – luckily, the solution is well within reach, suggests one new report.

The Canada West Foundation says 40 per cent of employees could perform better if they improved on basic skills – such as math, reading, and writing – all of which can be provided relatively easily by employers.

“If every worker had the essential skills needed to do their jobs really well, productivity and competitiveness in the West would soar,” argue the study’s authors Janet Lane and Scott Murray.

The foundation stressed that the missing skills are not advanced or necessarily technical in nature but that many workers are still held back by a lack of ability in things like basic computer skills, literacy, numeracy, and even working with others or as part of a team.

High-school leavers and uni grads alike

The report reveals that roughly half of people who didn’t finish high school are missing such essential skills but they’re not the only ones who could do with some extra tutoring.

Worryingly, even highly-educated employees are missing vital skills, with approximately 30 per cent of university graduates lacking basic skills that would help them be better at their jobs.

The report also says immigrants have skills shortages of between 10 to 16 per cent higher than the non-immigrant population.

No industry exempt

Employers are wrong if they think the data doesn’t apply to their own industry, warn Lane and Murray.

“Every sector of the economy could improve its productivity by helping its workers increase essential skills,” they say, adding that shortages are present across occupations and job types in all sectors.

“They exist in many demographic groups, vary by occupation and province, and average 40 per cent,” they confirm.

Building essential skills

Now, the study’s authors are urging employers to offer basic skills training to their workers – for the sake of Canada’s economy and their own companies.

“Building these essential skills would improve the capacity of workers to do their jobs well and provide a much needed boost to labour productivity,” they say.

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