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Bridging the Skills Gap Within Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Quebec: An Analytical and Empirical Analysis

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Quebec’s and Canada’s economy. However, Quebec and Canadian organizations have long lamented the shortage of labour and skills and the lack of access to skilled workers as one of the most critical issues impacting their competitiveness and ability to grow. 

In recent years, businesses have faced major challenges, particularly in terms of technological, economic and environmental transformations, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges have had, or will have, a substantial impact on organizational systems, work organization, and skill needs. Macro-level factors such as technological innovations, changes in the global division of labour, changes in business organization, demographic shifts, and changes in consumption patterns, among others, are redefining the labour market and creating new challenges for businesses (OECD, 2017). These challenges and changing trends have created the need for new or different skill sets in all organizations.  

The impact of these broader trends is already felt by businesses in Quebec. The overarching objective of this project is to understand skills gaps and needs in Quebec businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We assess the level of preparedness of SMEs in Quebec for the post-pandemic years by examining their transformation strategies, skill priorities, training plans, and willingness to tap into a more diverse workforce. 

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Key findings

This paper and its findings and recommendations are based on an analysis of the 331 employer representatives from Quebec who responded to the survey. The firms surveyed operate in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing (16%), professional, scientific, and technical services (12%), and retail trade (9%). Of the firms surveyed,

33%

have fewer than 10 employees (micro-enterprises)

42%

 have 10–100 employees (small enterprises)

15%

have 100–500 employees (medium-sized enterprises)

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