Employers who recognize and respond to emerging skills needs will be better positioned to succeed than those who don’t. Similarly, employees who understand which skills are becoming more valuable will be better positioned to adapt and succeed in the workforce. Governments see this too. Right now, federal and provincial governments are making historic investments in skills training and development in Canada to help ensure inclusive, sustainable, long-term economic growth.
The findings from this survey will help to inform policy and decision-makers. Designed to collect data on Business Council of Canada (BCC) companies’ skills needs and training practices, the Skills Survey offers unique insights into labour-market trends and the ways businesses are adapting to changing circumstances.
The survey has been conducted five times (previous reports were produced in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020). For this report, we heard from 95 members of the BCC, who represent some of Canada’s largest businesses and collectively, employ more than 830,000 workers across Canada (see Methodology section).
We conducted this year’s survey between July and September 2021. Employers responded during a global pandemic and we asked new questions about the impacts of COVID-19. We also asked questions familiar from previous reports related to employer expectations of new graduates; skills needs; investments in learning and development; relationships with post-secondary education institutions; barriers to hiring and how employers are adapting.
Where possible, we’ve compared findings from previous years and pointed to emerging trends and changing priorities. We know, for example, that the skills employers require of recent graduates are becoming more specialized, more technical, but that human skills remain in high demand. Employers believe the shift towards remote and/or hybrid work is likely to last, while HR executives recognize that for their companies to remain competitive, they must invest in employee training, and increasingly in upskilling and reskilling, though they’re not always sure where to turn for resources or partners.
The Skills Survey Report isn’t a comprehensive study of the Canadian labour market, but rather a snapshot in time of skills and training practices for a specific subset of large Canadian companies. What we’ve learned falls broadly into four main themes:
- A new work reality: the impacts of COVID-19
- It's not just COVID: barriers to finding and keeping talent are many and complex
- The skills that employers demand are evolving, and they expect more from recent grads
- Employers are resilient and are finding ways to adapt