February 3, 2020

Policy in Action: Update on the Task Force on Future Skills & Training

We know that top economies produce people who are skilled, resilient and adaptable in the face of economic uncertainty and rapid technological change. In fact, shared prosperity can be best realized when people are making the best use of their existing skills and can access opportunities to update those and learn new ones.

The Task Force on Future Skills & Training was initiated to study the challenges and issues of work, training and education for business and people in Alberta. From that, the Task Force will create business-led actions to respond and build a strong, stable and adaptable workforce for today and the future.

future skills & training
Policy in action: Task Force on Future Skills & Training Working Feedback Session

After laying some groundwork for the Task Force’s work in the summer of 2019, the group began to hold formal meetings in September. Over the past several months, the Task Force has surveyed the research, conducted one-on-one consultations and engaged with government and community stakeholders to understand the context of the changing world of work and Alberta’s own economic challenges and develop a path forward to create the best possible future workforce in the province.

In line with our commitment to policy in action, the purpose of this update is to share the work done to date, focusing on what the Task Force found in its research and the broad ideas and focus areas it identified. By engaging throughout the policy development process, we aim to solicit ongoing ideas and feedback and create outputs that are ready to implement.

The Task Force has developed an overall vision and three focus areas they believe are key to creating the workforce we need today and in the future.

The Situation: What is the current state of work, education and training?

The world of work is changing. Technological transformation—artificial intelligence, automation, digitization—is disrupting and changing the skills needed for the workforce. Innovation and the ability to marry soft and digital skills are becoming vital. Workplace flexibility and values-aligned work are becoming more of a priority for younger workers.

The next generation is entering the workforce at a time of profound economic, social and technological change. We know. Canada’s youth know it. And we’re not doing enough about it. RBC, 'Humans Wanted' Report, 2018

At the same time, Alberta businesses are adjusting to a shifting economy. Growth and business investment have slowed considerably since 2014 and we are experiencing high youth unemployment, especially for males under 25. We are also facing labour shortages in the technology and innovation sector and businesses are tackling difficulties attracting top talent from outside the province.

The Vision: How do we create the workforce of tomorrow?

This Task Force was convened to study these challenges and opportunities and how Alberta can best respond. The team has developed an overall vision for Alberta’s future workforce and the path to work toward that vision:

 Our goal is to create the best, most skilled, technologically sophisticated, progressive and adaptable workforce in the country. Alberta will be a place where people collaborate across businesses, industries and sectors. We build bridges, engage and solve problems together. 

To accomplish this goal, the Task Force has set three focus areas:

  • Restoring Alberta’s Reputation: Alberta is an attractive place to live and work for all. We are open, inclusive, innovative and collaborative. People come to Alberta to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
  • Building a Culture of Lifelong Learning: To respond to the rapid technological disruption in the world of work and maintain competitiveness, businesses provide opportunities for continuous improvement, including micro-credentialing, upskilling and reskilling.
  • Developing Experience-Based Training: To develop better-prepared, widely-skilled and confident workers, businesses develop work-integrated opportunities to complement formal education.

Read More: To stimulate growth and innovation, we need the A-Prize

What’s Next: How will we accomplish this vision?

The Task Force is currently developing a series of specific business-led actions to achieve these goals. More to come. 

About Business Council of Alberta Task Forces

The Business Council of Alberta accomplishes much of its work through CEO Task Forces. Members of each Task Force include subject matter experts from our membership and other stakeholders as required. Members of the Task Force on Future Skills & Training include

  • Dawn Farrell (Chair) (TransAlta)
  • Scott Bolton (UFA)
  • Drew Zieglgansberger (Cenovus)
  • Judy Fairburn (The51)
  • Paul Gardner (Suncor)
  • Brad Zumwalt (Zinc Ventures)
  • Mike Olsson (PCL)
  • Jeff McCaig (Trimac)

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