Alberta addresses growing labour shortage

The Alberta government has developed a strategy to bring 86,000 extra people into the workforce over the next 10 years.

The Alberta government has developed a strategyto bring 86,000 extra people into the workforce over the next 10 years.

The province released the strategy Tuesday, also announcing a workforce symposium in the fall that will include business, labour and education representatives.

Presenters include staff from Intuit Canada, Blue Falls Manufacturing and Tim Hortons.

Several elements of the strategy are aimed at helping more of the province's First Nations population enter the workforce.

"That's one thing that really stands out in this strategy that has been missed, because people are still unemployed, which is unfair," said Mike Cardinal, Alberta's minister of human resources.

Government missing out: critics

The Conference Board of Canada warned in June that Alberta could face a shortage of 332,000 workers by 2025 if current trends continue.

The provincial strategy released Tuesday contains broad ideas, but few details of what will be done to find more workers, charge critics.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said with a booming economy, tight labour market, and plenty of financial resources, Alberta could be doing more.

"We have an opportunity to do something big on the training and apprenticeship front, but unfortunately, at least with this document, we see a government that's missing out on a big opportunity"

Among the 17 priorities in the strategy:

  • Recognizing the credentials of workers coming from other provinces and countries.
  • Helping companies retain "mature" workers with flexible work arrangements and pension programs.
  • Offering more scholarships and grants to retain students and faculty in academia.
  • Giving Albertans better information on career, education and training opportunities.

By 2015, the province estimates the workforce will be short thousands of employees, including 5,432 cashiers, 3,917 machinery and transportation equipment mechanics, 3,595 electrical trades and telecommunication employees, and 3,077 carpenters and cabinetmakers.

The Conference Board of Canada warned the province's job situation is likely to worsen over the next 20 years due to an aging population, despite high numbers of migrating workers attracted by Alberta's booming resource-driven economy.