Canada’s leading companies are finding innovative ways to identify and develop skilled talent

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Canada’s businesses, workers, and the economy over the past two years, adding to ongoing technological and demographic shifts and an increasing demand for skilled workers. The country’s leading employers, though, are focused on recovery and growth.

A new report, Empowering People for Recovery and Growth, analyzes survey responses from 95 of Canada’s largest employers. It was produced by the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) in partnership with the Business Council of Canada.

Key findings include:

  • COVID-19 has shifted the skills employers are looking for. While human skills, such as communication, empathy, and the ability to work well with others, are still as critical as ever, the demand for technical skills is growing.  
  • Employers are generally confident about their ability to hire and replace workers, but opportunities exist to find new ways to recruit, train, and develop future workers, including recruiting more recent immigrants.
  • Canada’s leading employers are looking to post-secondary institutions to produce new graduates with the skills they need, and are willing to work with them to ensure that graduates are equipped to succeed.
  • Employers view work-integrated learning (WIL) as the best way to develop, recruit, and transition new graduates into the workplace.
  • Companies continue to invest in employee training and development, despite the added costs of the pandemic.
  • Canada’s businesses are willing to pay for worker upskilling and reskilling, but many signal they are struggling to develop tailored programming. Opportunities exist for increased collaboration with post-secondary institutions to address these needs.

“Canada’s largest employers recognize the importance of training to ensure employees have the skills they need to succeed,” says Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada. “Despite the many challenges of the pandemic, this year’s Skills Survey confirms that investing in employee skills training and development is a top priority.”

“The 2022 Skills Survey confirms that Canadian employers are finding new and innovative ways to identify and develop skilled talent, including by working closely with post-secondary institutions, says Dr. Valerie Walker, CEO of BHER. “Work-integrated learning remains the gold standard for entry-level hiring, but upskilling and reskilling existing workers is fast becoming a priority and creating new opportunities for industry-post-secondary partnerships. BHER is here to help build relationships and increase collaboration.”.

The 2022 edition of the Skills Survey is the fifth in a series.  The survey was conducted between July and September 2021. It offers insight into how priorities have evolved over the past eight years and captures emerging trends and challenges, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Business + Higher Education Roundtable:

The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2015, BHER has worked to harness the strengths of Canada’s business and post-secondary education sectors to build opportunities for young Canadians, boost innovation and drive collaboration. Learn more at

About the Business Council of Canada

Founded in 1976, the Business Council of Canada is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization composed of business leaders in every region and sector of the country. The Council’s member companies employ 1.7 million Canadians, contribute the largest share of federal corporate taxes, and are responsible for most of Canada’s exports, corporate philanthropy, and private-sector investments in research and development. Through supply chain partnerships, service contracts and mentoring programs, Business Council members support many hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs in communities of all sizes, in every part of Canada.

Media Contacts:

Tina Romito, Senior Manager, Communications
Business + Higher Education Roundtable – 613-695-3511

Howard Fremeth, Director of Communications
Business Council of Canada – 613-854-5336