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Edmonton, September 14, 2015 – Access to a powerful workforce is essential to creating stronger companies and building a more competitive Canada. Three tiers of chambers of commerce gathered today at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton to call on the parties to reveal their plans for building a highly skilled workforce that meets Canada’s current and future needs.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce all agree: there is a skills gap in Canada and we must act before the situation deteriorates. 

“The employment landscape is changing in Canada. The demand for high-skilled workers is growing while the need for low-skilled workers is declining. We need to make every effort to align education with our employment market. We all need to be on the same page if we want Canadians to have the skills to support a world-leading economy,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Ken Kobly, President and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce explained the situation: “With the recent downturn in oil prices, the pressures of a tight labour market here in Alberta are not as apparent, but even now, there are regions of the province that are experiencing acute labour shortages. This problem is a chronic one for Alberta and we need whatever government is elected on October 19th to have a solution to ensure that employers and workers are able to find each other, regardless of where we are in the business cycle. Business requires predictability and stability in addressing labour issues.”

Janet Riopel, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, commented: “The economic engines that power Alberta and Canada are fueled by a skilled workforce.  Without skilled people, we limit growth and we limit our potential.  Now, more than ever before, we need action from all levels of government to address our workforce challenges.”

Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is also launching a new report, Fragmented Systems: Connecting Players in Canada’s Skills Challenge. The report identifies the barriers that stand between employers and the education systems, highlights what is currently being done to address this situation and proposes recommendations to government to work with educators and employers. A system where employers’ skills needs are connected to post-secondary education and training will ensure Canada has a more competitive workforce with the skills to succeed. 

“Surrounded by the state-of-the-art technology at NAIT’s facility, we realize the nature of the workplace is shifting. The best insurance any individual can have against changes in labour demand is skills, education and experience. The next federal government has a role to play in making sure the current and next generations of workers can make Canadian businesses the most competitive in the world. We are waiting to hear what they have to say,” concluded Mr. Beatty. 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

G. Will Dubreuil
Director, Public Affairs and Media Relations
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
613.797.1860 (cell)
gdubreuil@chamber.ca