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Upskilling the workforce: Employer-sponsored training and resolving the skills gap

Employers are often criticized for not investing enough in the training and skills development of their employees. Educational institutions are expected to do a better job at preparing individuals to enter the workforce, with more of the skills employers are seeking. The context for this report is the fact that employers may sponsor more formal training of their employees and of prospective employees either as a result of their own proactive workforce plans or as a result of a fi nancial incentive to be made available. Specifi cally, in its 2013 budget, the federal government set in motion changes to training support that are aimed at better linking the training of workers to the skills needs of employers. To understand the potential outcomes of increased upskilling by employers, it is worth having a picture of employer-sponsored training and the need for upskilling and realignment of skills in the workforce. This report is largely a review of Canadian research to synthesize what we know about the training eco-system and what employers offer to their workforce. It is interspersed with sidebar interviews with several members of the Canadian Chamber who provide the views of human resource executives, employers and educators.Various related topics are covered including customizing education for employers; the issue of the apprenticeships; planning for reskilling and redeployment; job-readiness training for youth; and the perennial demand for soft skills. This report offers an overview of all of the kinds of formal training available for employees. It also points out which skills development, training and learning seem to fall outside the purview of employers and may rest with educational institutions and other parties. The main aim of this report is to investigate what to expect from employer-sponsored training and the possible outcomes of an incentive for such training. The focus here is on formal training of employees where the employer selects or approves and pays for the training. Formal training typically takes place off-site, often at educational institutions or training providers that can offer certifi cations (see theDefi nitions’ section). By laying out the training eco-system and its key players, this report will reveal any gaps left unaddressed by employer-sponsored training. Policy recommendations will fl ow from the identifi cation of the current eco-system and the gap analysis of training for employees.