Are We Giving Young People the Skills Needed for the Future?

futureskillsSome Assembly Required: STEM Skills and Canada’s Economic Productivity

Canada has one of the most highly trained workforces in the world. Maintaining and developing Canada’s strength in this regard is a central pillar for future prosperity. Rapid technological advances, complex social and health issues and dynamic global markets require that the Canadian workforce has the right balance of skills to take advantage of emerging opportunities, challenges, and innovations.

The new report by the Council of Canadian Academies covers a broad area of issues such as: the relationships among STEM skills and innovation, productivity, and growth; whether Canada has a shortage or surplus of STEM graduates; what future demand for STEM skills in Canada could be; considerations for developing a STEM-literate society; the role of post-secondary education, and immigration and the global market.

The report provides a foundation of knowledge and expert insight meant to support policy and decision-makers as they consider how best to leverage the benefits that come from STEM literacy for a globally competitive and productive society.

Key findings

  • Supply and demand for STEM skills have been balanced at the national level, over the long-term. However, there is room to improve in the quality and level of STEM skills held by all Canadians.
  • STEM skills are necessary but not sufficient for innovation and productivity growth. A balance of skills must be struck. Leadership, creativity, adaptability, and entrepreneurial ability can help maximize the impact of STEM skills.
  • Long-term economic outcomes matter. A focus on narrowly specialized STEM skills development to meet short-term labour market requirements may have little relevance for meeting long-term skill requirements.
  • It is not possible to definitively determine what skills and knowledge will be required for the jobs of the future.
  • To build capacity and maximize Canada’s potential for innovation, evidence points to the value of early childhood interventions to strengthen fundamental skills.
  • Proactive, long-term strategies to keep a range of economic options open include investments in building fundamental STEM skills while maintaining Canada’s capacity for producing advanced STEM skills.
  • Support for under-represented populations in STEM is important for broadening Canada’s STEM skill supply.
  • STEM skills are global skills. Emigration is more than offset by immigration. Overall, Canada does not appear to be losing skilled individuals.

The full report is available for download, free of charge, on the Council’s website .