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Media Release

Key Workforce Challenges: New workforce strategy will guide solutions to address the region’s labour shortage

A new report shows the pandemic accelerated many trends negatively impacting Toronto's workforce prior to March 2020.

Open office with workers at their desks.

TORONTO, March 8, 2022 – Today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade released a workforce development strategy that outlines several ongoing challenges that governments, employers and unions must address to end the Region’s labour shortage across a variety of sectors. The strategy, titled Unlocking Talent: A Collective Approach for Workforce Development in the Toronto Region, shows that the pandemic fast-tracked many of the trends negatively impacting the Region’s workforce prior to March 2020. 

The strategy maps out several major obstacles preventing workers from accessing jobs that match their skills and interests, making it difficult for employers to access the talent they need to grow and prosper.  

The strategy points to the opportunity for greater collaboration between industry, post-secondary institutions and government to address key areas of opportunity: 

  • Helping highly-skilled immigrants find jobs that match their level of education and training 
  • Closing the soft skills gap  
  • Narrowing the digital skills gap 
  • Removing stigma and entry barriers around the skilled trades  
  • Improving diversity and inclusion programs to better attract and retain talent 

“We’ve heard loud and clear from our members that talent is at the heart of their business and that we need greater collective investment in developing our workforce, “said Jan De Silva, President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. “This strategy provides a roadmap for unlocking the region’s full potential. It’s only by working collaboratively that government and business can ensure we’re attracting, leveraging and retaining the talent needed to compete on a global scale.” 

“Employers continue to be hampered by enormous gaps in attracting talent across a variety of sectors, and in allowing that talent to thrive,” said Roselle Martino, Vice President, Public Policy, at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. “For example, it’s a missed opportunity that 75 per cent of internationally educated immigrants aren’t working in the jobs they are educated and trained for. We must empower these skilled workers to make the most of their talent in order to maximize our economic potential.” 

Key Facts

  • Data collected by the Board of Trade’s Recovery Tracker tool prior to closures in December 2021 showed the region’s businesses were undergoing a recovery after withstanding nearly two years of public health measures and lockdowns. This data suggests the region’s workforce continues to be resilient and is poised for a further recovery as we look ahead to a fully reopened economy this spring 
  • Over 30 per cent of apprentices in Canada in 2015 were between 25 and 29 years of age and only 11.5 per cent were 15 to 19, suggesting that those accessing pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs may be doing so after taking different educational routes first 
  • The pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies and has heightened the need to reskill and upskill workers, with 50 per cent of workers globally facing the need to reskill within the next five years 

The TTC is the heart of Toronto's transportation network and is a critical part of what makes our business region one of the most competitive and sought after in the world.  

Given that the government is investing billions in transit infrastructure, creating dozens of new connections between TTC and GO – the cost of fare integration would be a drop in the bucket that would pay for itself over time.  

We encourage governments at all levels to read our report: Erasing the Invisible Line: Integrating the Toronto Region’s Transit Networks. It outlines the numerous opportunities that would flow from transit integration among TTC and 905 service providers.

Read 'Unlocking Talent'

Learn about possible strategies for overcoming workforce challenges brought on by the pandemic.
Group of smiling co-workers looking at a laptop.

About Toronto Region Board of Trade

The Toronto Region Board of Trade is one of the largest and most influential business chambers in North America and is a catalyst for the region’s economic agenda. We pursue policy change to drive the growth and competitiveness of the Toronto region and facilitate market opportunities with programs, partnerships and connections to help our members succeed – domestically and internationally.

Media Contact

Andrew Perez, Media Relations Manager