Among private sector labour leaders representing workers in the western provinces, skills shortages was among their top five issues of concern. In comparison, the issue ranked somewhat lower among private sector labour leaders representing workers in provinces east of Manitoba. In all regions except Atlantic Canada, skills shortages ranked as the number one issue among public sector managers.
Skills shortages tended to rank lower among public sector labour leaders compared to their private sector counterparts. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan for example, skills shortages ranked fourteenth among public sector leaders, compared to second among private sector labour leaders. The issue of skills shortages received the lowest ranking among public sector managers surveyed in the Atlantic provinces (21st out of 42 issues).
While the issue of skills shortages is viewed as a serious problem by a significant proportion of managers and labour leaders in all parts of the country, the factors giving rise to these concerns are likely to be quite different. In some provinces such as Alberta, concerns about skills shortages are influenced by an extremely robust economy with near full employment. In the Atlantic provinces on the other hand, concerns about shortages remains high, despite elevated levels of unemployment. In these provinces, concerns about skills shortages may be more a reflection of inter-provincial migration, with the region losing large numbers of their youth and young adults to other parts of the country.
Provinces and regions also differ in terms of the nature of their industries, the number of immigrants they receive each year, population demographics, the literacy levels of their residents, and numerous other characteristics. In short, a common concern about the issue of skills shortages will not of necessity involve a common solution. Effective strategies must reflect the very different social, cultural and economic circumstances that have given rise to a common national skills challenge.