The Decline of People Skills & Workforce Shortage

Canadians face a conundrum. Lots of people are unemployed and yet a labour shortage looms. And the upcoming workers - the Gen Ys aren't impressing the bosses. Coddled, courted, entitled and without boundaries, employers complain they lack basic social skills. And the fear is that One generations' awkwardness will affect an entire nation's economy.

Part One of The Current


It's Tuesday, March 13th.

Documents show that in 2010, the federal and Alberta governments formed a secret committee with Canada's oil lobby to coordinate promotion of the oil sands.

Currently, government officials plan to comment ... as soon as the oil industry tells them what to say.

This is The Current.

The Decline of People Skills & Workforce Shortage - Economist

We started this segment with an office skit. And the young man in the skit was a bit of a caricature. But economists say his social awkwardness in the workplace is all too real and all too common among young job candidates these days. And right now, it's especially being felt in western Canada.

That's because while Canada as a whole lost 2800 jobs last month - the West is hiring. In fact, Western premiers are so desperate for skilled employees, they're now asking Ottawa to give them new immigration powers to bring in the workers they need.

But even with the worker shortage, skilled candidates aren't always getting hired. As they say in Human Resources, they fall short in interpersonal skills. In other words ... they're inept with other humans. And alarmingly, it's educated young people who are unable to handle the small talk.

Todd Hirsch, for one, says we need to invest in the development of people skills or risk the future productivity of the entire Canadian economy. He is an economist and the author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline. He joined us from Calgary.

The Decline of People Skills & Workforce Shortage - Panel

We started this segment with a clip from Alanna Himlet, who runs the Charm School at the student activities office for MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For the past 19 years, the one-day course has aimed to give awkward geniuses lessons on how to be ... well, less awkward. But economists here in Canada say it's not geniuses who are suffering from social awkwardness. It's a whole new generation of young workers often dubbed Generation Y.

Chris Dale considers is a Gen Y-er and considers himself an awkward one at that. He's a photographer and university student and he was in our Toronto studio. And Adwoa Buahene is a managing partner at n-gen people performance Inc., which advises on managing younger employees.

And a thank you to CBC's Content Factory in Winnipeg for producing the incredibly awkward and comedic interview skit from earlier in this segment.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Shannon Higgins.

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