Knowledge Synthesis Grants on Skills Development for Future Needs of the Canadian Labour Market
The social sciences and humanities offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise on labour market dynamics and skills development. As a result, in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and other key stakeholders, SSHRC developed a call for proposals to evaluate the current state of knowledge about the skills needs of the Canadian labour market and to identify the most promising policies and practices for better meeting future skills needs.
The objectives of this funding opportunity were to:
- assess the quality, accuracy and rigour of current work in the field;
- identify gaps in the knowledge and the quantitative and qualitative data available; and
- mobilize skills and labour market knowledge within industry, the academic and public policy sectors.
Sixteen reports by researchers across Canada from a range of disciplines were funded through this initiative. The complete recipients list can be found here
Please note that reports are only available in the language in which they were submitted.
Crowdsourcing Métis Research
Chris Andersen and Yvonne Poitras‑Pratt present their knowledge synthesis on Métis research in education, employment and training. Working with a variety of Métis organizations, the research team found that most Métis research is provincially‑based and, as a result, exists in a “jurisdictional vacuum”. The team hopes to create a crowdsourcing database to help centralize knowledge and to make best practices and other resources more readily available for policy actors across Canada.
Integrating International Students
Chedly Belkhodja discusses his research project that measures the factors involved in the successful integration of international students in Canadian society. International students form a growing population in Canadian universities. His research identifies challenges in attracting international students, and in their professional integration after graduation into Canadian workplaces. His research synthesis will help provide a better understanding of how international students contribute to Canada’s prosperity and society.
Investing in Human Capital
Benoit Dostie discusses his knowledge synthesis about the impacts of employer‑sponsored training. His research looks at business strategies in human investment, at links between training and an organization’s productivity, and the complementary elements between investments in human, organizational and physical capital. His research synthesis has shown that employee training yields positive outcomes for businesses, and that the benefits outweigh the loss of wages of employees undergoing training.
Catherine Elliott, on behalf of Joanne D. Leck, discusses the state of mentoring in Canada and some of the challenges faced by women, visible minorities and immigrants, disabled persons and Aboriginal people in advancing to senior positions in the workplace. Elliott, Leck and their research team document how mentoring is associated with numerous benefits, including improved work performance, promotions, and enhanced skills development. They examine various approaches to mentoring and aim to discover how best to leverage mentoring as a tool to promote employee learning and advancement in order for Canada to access the leadership potential of all employees.
Sally Lindsay talks about her knowledge synthesis project, which focused on identifying ways to improve the participation of persons with disabilities whose talents are underutilized in the Canadian labour market. Her research identified policies, programs and employment practices that can improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce. The report calls for more research in the area, and for different agencies to communicate and work together on the issue.
Sustaining the Family Business
Howard Lin introduces his research synthesis on family owned, controlled, influenced, or involved businesses in Canada. In exploring skills and skills development, Lin discovered that there is a lack of incentive for smaller family businesses to upgrade professional skills. His research suggests that a culturally sensitive approach, interaction and collaboration between sectors can help to improve skills.
Digital Literacy at Work
Dragana Martinovic and Viktor Freiman discuss their knowledge synthesis on digital literacy skills in the Canadian labour market. They investigated existing research into the development and type of digital literacy skills that are needed to be successful in today’s labour market. They also looked at how technology is changing educational and workplace practices, and how to best attract a qualified, diverse workforce. Their research has led to proposed curriculum changes that emphasize transdisciplinary and transferable skills, communication, collaboration and digital literacies.
Demographics of Canada’s Future Workforce
Susan McDaniel reports on her research process to discover whether there will be labour or skills shortages in Canada, and what role immigration might play in Canada’s future. Her findings indicate that there is no evidence of widespread labour shortages on a national scale, but that there are pockets of skill shortages and mismatches in specific industry sectors and in specific geographic areas. McDaniel’s research also identifies large groups of underutilized populations, including youth, highly‑skilled immigrants, Aboriginal Peoples, disabled and older workers.
Supply and Demand of Skills
Miana Plesca and Fraser Summerfield discuss their research synthesis on the supply and demand for skills in Canada. They found that workers’ skills and required job skills requirements do not match up. Plesca and Summerfield are calling for a policy that fosters job creation, requiring individuals to be critical thinkers with general, transferable skills.
Developing Skills in Science Class
Diane Pruneau presents her knowledge synthesis on the recommended skills that employers and researchers say will help workers to be successful. She and her research team analyzed elementary school curriculum in Canada to see whether these skills were being taught to students in science and technology classrooms. Pruneau’s results have helped her to recommend changes to the Canadian science curriculum, including an increased focus on skills like entrepreneurship and risk assessment.
Identifying Gaps With Skillshed Analysis
Hannah Scott and Igor Kotlyar discuss their knowledge synthesis on skillshed analysis. This unique approach requires researchers to focus on both employers and the workforce. It focuses on geographic locations that are meaningful to employers, rather than on traditional geographic boundaries. It also focuses on skills rather than on types of jobs. Skillshed studies have not yet been done in Canada, and Scott and Kotlyar hope this work will help Canadian researchers and policymakers examine skill gaps on a local, community level.
Training for the Traditional Craft Trades
Monica Shore discusses the Traditional Craft Trades (TCT) sector, representing Nicole Vaugeois. This knowledge synthesis report explores the labour market needs for the TCT sector and identifies challenges and enhancements for training and skill development for artisans. Her research called for a greater connection between entrepreneurship and craftsmanship, the attraction of young people to work in TCT, and training in digital technology and business development for craftspeople.
Integrating International Nurses
Margaret Walton-Roberts discusses her research on the incorporation of internationally-educated nurses into the Canadian health-care system. Walton-Roberts explains that because Canada faces a potential shortage of 60,000 nurses by the year 2022, this study has significant implications that could impact decisions about federal immigration policy reform and how those policies intersect with the professional regulators.
Transforming Humanities PhD Programs
Paul Yachnin and Leigh Yetter report on their knowledge synthesis on underemployment of those who hold humanities PhDs. The researchers argue that high-level humanities research and teaching has a high social value as it leads to clearer, more historically informed and ethical understanding of problems in Canada. Yachnin and Yetter recommend transforming humanities PhD programs so that they lead to multiple career paths outside academia.
Employment Skills in Northern Canada
Frances Abele and Senada Delic’s research synthesis addressed northern aboriginal youth employment in Canada. The researchers investigated possible sources of a skills mismatch between employment opportunities in northern communities and in the academic preparation, employment success and career aspirations of the aboriginal youth labour force. They called for better cooperation among elementary, secondary, postsecondary and vocational education systems in the north so that academic and non-academic vocational paths are visible and available to northern young people.
Recruiting International Workers
Julie Drolet and her research team examined the growing skills and labour shortage and mismatch that exist in Canada amidst a global competition for talent. The goal of Drolet’s project was to describe the state of knowledge on the role of employers and employer organizations in bridging newcomers’ absorption and integration. The findings indicate that federal and provincial governments, the employer community itself and service providers all have roles to play in increasing employers’ capacity to hire and recruit skilled immigrant workers in order to meet the demands of the future labour market.
For more information, contact:
Policy analyst, Corporate Strategy and Performance