Supply and Demand of Skills



Release Date

March 24, 2014


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.

Read the transcript

Miana Plesca
Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Guelph

Fraser Summerfield
PhD candidate
University of Guelph

Miana Plesca: So our research looked at the demand and the supply for skill, and our main finding is that there’s not a problem with the supply of skill. It’s not a shortage of skill, but a mismatch. We looked both at the supply for skill and the demand for skill and then we put it together.

And in terms of the supply of skill, we were looking at: how does the skill get produced?

Fraser Summerfield: What we find is that there is a sustained demand for higher education skills, for cognitive type skills and that demand itself may have a cyclical component, and so an important element in mismatch is the cyclicality of that demand for skill.

Miana Plesca: We were also thinking in terms of the transferability of skills, so we want the modern labour force to have general transferable skills rather than narrow specific skills which [make it] harder to move from one occupation to another. We think that the modern knowledge economy is built on to critical thinking skills, and we are trying to see to what extent are they built by universities or community colleges or what role do apprenticeships have in all this building of transferable versus specific skills.

We want a policy that fosters job creation that needs highly skilled type of individuals and Canada will move forward more productively.