From 2010 through 2012 I worked on a couple of major workforce projects. These projects were developing strategies to resolve issues related to building the pool of talent and improving productivity of all workers. As a result of this work I have become even more certain of the importance for every organization to be a workplace where the culture is one of continuous individual and organizational growth and development.
Some Important Data
The following are a few of the salient facts that bring the reality of this issue home.
Labour Productivity, defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development as the output (the gross domestic product or gross value added) that results from the input of workers.
- In its 2013 Factbook, the OECD places Canada at seventeenth of thirty-five countries on per person productivity.
- Canada’s labour productivity growth has been poorer than the top countries for decades – we are getting less productive as compared to other countries each year.
- Productivity doesn’t mean working more hours, it means working more efficiently, being innovative and producing value added goods and services.
- There is 1 worker to replace every 3 baby boomers leaving the Canadian workplace.
- Canada’s baby boom started in 1947 (those folks turned 65 in 2012) peaked in 1959 (those folks will turn 65 in 2024) and ended in 1966 (those folks will turn 65 in 2031)
- There is a knowledge and skills gap in the workforce
- About 9 million Canadians (more than 25% of our entire population) aged 16 – 65 have literacy levels below what is necessary for today’s workforce
- 60% of Canada’s working age population (25 – 64) has some form of post secondary qualification
About 76% of jobs in Canada require post secondary education
- Job vacancy rates are predicted to rise dramatically
- By 2016 there will be about 1.3 million vacant jobs in Canada due to shortages of workers with the knowledge and skills required to fill those jobs
- By 2031 there will be about 2 million unemployed workers who do not have the skills needed to obtain a job AND there will be about 3.4 million jobs in Canada that cannot be filled due to skill shortages
- Reliance on Regional & Global workforce mobility
- Temporary relocation of workers from one region to another is a short term solution that has significant negative social and economic consequences for both the home and temporary environments including family stress and the absence of long term economic development in either the sending or receiving community
- Immigration, even in optimal circumstances, can only provide limited benefit because of the associated complexities such credential recognition, lack of Canadian work experience and minimal social support for immigrants in many areas where jobs exist and resistance of existing population to new immigrants.
What it Means
If we do not change substantially, the organizational consequences of the workforce situation in Canada include:
- The inability to find the people needed for growth
- The inability to find people to continue to produce existing products and services, and
- The inability to remain competitive in the global economy.
Over time that will result in even lower levels of productivity per person as organizations do not have the resources to support individual development; to ensure machinery, technology and processes remain current; and, to fund the research and development that leads to innovation . That absence of resources will lead to a reduction in Canada’s Gross Domestic Product and then in turn in our standard of living. In order to maintain the lifestyle we have, and access to what we need, including health care, education, a safe functional infrastructure, parks, and so on, workers and organizations need to produce more and better goods and services.
The Good News
There are real practical solutions to these problems. They require work on many fronts by civic, provincial and federal levels of government and other public institutions. The fundamental solution however is to be found in the creation and maintenance of highly productive businesses and people.
The major projects I worked on provided me with the opportunity to explore ideas, possible practical solutions and to develop strategies and plans that will resolve many workforce issues. Key among those strategies is the development of people; increasing the capability of workers who are not as productive as they could be and bringing those who are unemployed into productive jobs.
We all know that everything about organizations depends on the people; what they do, share, risk, learn, want and produce. There is no question that increasing the productivity of people and therefore the organizations in which they work takes hard work. At the core of that hard work is creating and implementing an individual centric process for increasing the efficacy of each employee. Doing so demands a clear and measurable expectation for the results each person needs to deliver and how those results contributes to all desired outcomes. It also demands evaluation of the existing organizational system to ensure that all aspects of the system are actively contributing to the achievement of the desired outcomes.
The following Model depicts the organizational system and the interdependence of all aspects of the system in establishing a maximally productive environment.
I am convinced that organizational success is dependent on ensuring every individual is provided with the opportunity to develop to their greatest potential and that there are realistic ways to make it possible. The development and implementation of organizationally relevant solutions is a necessity for every business, no matter the size.
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To learn more about Canada’s workforce and productivity:
 Input is usually identified as hours worked, workforce jobs and number of people employed