40% of workers don't have the basic skills to do their jobs, Canada West Foundation says

A new report says missing job skills in industries from retail to engineering are hurting Canada's productivity.

A new report says missing job skills in industries from retail to engineering are hurting Canada's productivity.

The study by the Canada West Foundation says 40 per cent of employees could perform better if they improved on basic skills like math, reading and writing.

The skills being discussed are not advanced — they're not necessarily highly technical in nature, nor are there individually rare in many people. But collectively, many workers are held back by their lack of things like basic computer skills, numeracy, language skills and the ability to work with others.

It says roughly half of people who didn't finish high school are missing such essential skills, while 30 per cent of university graduates are also lacking skills needed for their jobs.

The report also says immigrants have skills shortages of between 10 to 16 per cent higher than the non-immigrant population.

In a recent Accenture study, some 36 per cent of employers said their own employees lack the skills they need to do their jobs today and for the next two years.

Using 2011 data from Statistics Canada and the OECD, the study compared what jobs skills are needed with what skills Canadians actually have.

The Canada West Foundation says employers should invest in training to increase productivity, efficiency and safety in an increasingly competitive global economy.

It also recommends that the education system put more emphasis on essential skills training in public and post-secondary school.

"Today's economy is driven by innovation and competition, and skills have become the global currency," the study reads.

A previous report from the same organization found that of all basic skills, literacy may be the most important, as it accounts for as much as one-third of wage discrepancies between comparable workers.

"Employers pay more for people with higher literacy skills."

With files from CBC News