When industry complains about skills shortages, it’s not just technical skills in welding, electrical knowledge or mechanical prowess that’s missing from job applications.
The fact is, there is a bunch of other skills that potential hires need to be effective at. These might surprise you. The list includes numeracy, oral communications, the ability to work with others, continuous learning, reading text, writing, thinking, document use and digital skills. I especially like the one about thinking!
These nine basic skills have been identified by a government agency, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), as ones that provide the foundation for learning all other skills, and which enable workers to evolve and adapt to change. Without these nine ‘common sense’ skills, one really can’t be expected to effectively learn and perform the hard technical skills that industry really needs.
Recognizing this, Skills/Compétences Canada (SCC), an organization that promotes careers in skilled trades and technologies, has launched a national awareness campaign to promote the importance of basic, essential skills for young people seeking careers in skilled trades sectors.
Working in conjunction with ESDC, the new SCC campaign will focus on young Canadians who are pursuing careers in skilled trades and technology sectors. It will highlight those nine essential skill profiles that are used in nearly every job and at different levels of complexity, and explain their foundational role in understanding and applying concepts introduced in technical training.
It’s likely that your company already feels the pain of the skills shortage problem. From energy and natural resources to construction, manufacturing and services, employers in the sectors that are the growth engine of the economy are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers with the right skills to meet their business needs. Who doesn’t want a maintenance tech who can quickly figure out the problem with a machine, knows which parts to order (and how to get them super fast), understands when repairing or replacing is best, and can actually do the job properly so he can get your line up and running ASAP?
SCC really is trying to help. It offers experiential learning opportunities through events and skilled trades and technology competitions for youth, such as the National Skilled Trades and Technology Week and the Skills Canada National Competition.
One example is the interactive Try-A-Trade and Technology activities at skills competitions, providing an opportunity to learn more about skilled trade and technology careers in a direct, hands-on way. Essential Skills will be integrated into these activities, highlighting how basic skills are a prerequisite in all skilled trade occupations.
That’s a good start, and one that all industries should support. Sure, it’s pretty late to get going on this, but it truly is the time for everyone in industry to get in gear and encourage the training of those nine basic skills. Without that, you’ll never get the qualified, technically skilled trades you really need.
Bill Roebuck, Editor/Associate Publisher