How’s this for a paradox. Manufacturing companies that fled Canada for low-wage countries such as China and India are, in many cases, willing to return now that wages in those countries are increasing. (Higher shipping costs and the buy local trend are factors, too.)
Alas, there’s a rub. While manufacturers are lining up to return to Canada, we have a labour shortage. Some experts estimate we could be short 360,000 manufacturing workers by 2020. But wait a minute. We have a national unemployment rate of nearly 7 per cent. In our area it’s between 6 and 8 per cent. And youth unemployment is nearly double the adult rate.
Why do we have a stubborn unemployment problem and a labour shortage at the same time? The answer is that federal and provincial education and employment strategies aren’t matching current and future unemployed workers with employers who desperately need them. Recently announced immigration policy changes are intended to match immigrants with prospective employers, which is good. But what about the hundreds of thousands of non-immigrant Canadians who are still jobless? Something doesn’t add up here.