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When Supply does not Meet Demand (Contaminated Sites Report 2008)
Labour Gaps and Issues in Canada’s Contaminated Sites Sector
During the next few decades, federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as the private sector, are poised to commit considerable financial resources to cleaning up contaminated sites across Canada.
ECO Canada, in partnership with Human Resources and Social Development Canada, commissioned this research study so that stakeholders across the country could have a better understanding of the gaps between labour demand and supply when it comes to cleanup of contaminated sites.Building on Previous Work
In 2006, an ECO Canada study, Who Will Do The Cleanup?, began to explore the labour demand issues in Canada’s contaminated sites sector. The report conservatively estimated that 14,300 people would be needed to clean up 15,940 non-federal contaminated sites and 2,941 federal contaminated sites over a four-year period. With the forecasted labour demand far outstripping supply, the report pointed to a human resources shortage in the sector.
As a follow up to that report, this report further examines the labour shortage problem and factors affecting demand. In addition, it looks closely at labour supply-side issues by identifying:
• The competencies required in the sector,
• The number of people currently possessing those competencies,
• The availability of academic and training programs, and
• The numbers of students enrolled in them.
A key feature of this report involves a “gap analysis,” namely the correlation of demand and supply information to identify human resources gaps.
Sources of Information
The research team used key informant interviews, research on academic programs, national surveys with employees and employers, regional focus groups, and a national forum to gather the data presented here.
Five key recommendations emerged from the research:
1. Up-to-date and accurate information on labour demand and supply, and skills gaps, must be collected on an ongoing basis as contaminated sites are identified, characterized, and scheduled for cleanup.
2. In northern and remote areas, decision-makers should be working to build communities’ capacity to increase workforce employability. Training that allows workers to acquire transferable skills is the most relevant training to support. Both employers and buyers of services, such as governments, need to consider extending the duration of work projects in these regions so that workers there can benefit from more training and skills development.
3. All stakeholders must actively raise awareness about the sector.
4. All levels of government should support the private sector in recruiting Aboriginal people, recent immigrants, and recent graduates. One way to do this is by creating work experience and workplace integration programs that will alleviate the costs and risks associated with their hiring.
5. Employers need to develop strategies for human resources succession. This type of planning will allow managers to assess the potential of existing staff, offer leadership opportunities, encourage workplace diversity, and provide mentoring, continuing education, and training support to employees.
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