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Shortage of Skilled Labour Forecasted

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The country’s rapidly ageing population, coupled with a dearth of young workers, will cause a major shortage of potential employees and could mean immigrants will account for almost all of the labour force growth within a decade, Statistics Canada suggests.

Census data for 2001, released yesterday, predicts potential worker shortfalls in a vast range of occupations by 2011, from family doctors to bricklayers.

The projections underscore the importance of making Canada an attractive destination for skilled workers from other nations, especially because industrialized countries are competing for their attention, said Jeffrey Reitz, a professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the University of Toronto.

The coming mass-retirement of baby boomers is one of the challenges that now stand in the way. Figures from the 2001 census, released last week by Statistics Canada, foreshadow that the boomers, who represent 47 per cent of the workforce, are set to leave skill shortages in the wake of their retirement, starting about a decade from now.

To get the kinds of workers it needs, the city will need to take full advantage of the skills possessed by its immigrants, too many of whom work below their potential, says Cheryl Gorman, executive director of TalentWorks, a body of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation, which was commissioned by the city to produce the “talent plan” for Ottawa.