By TAVIA GRANT
Friday, May 22, 2015
A new evaluation of the quality of labour-market information in Canada concludes the federal government is doing a "poor" job of delivering solid data.
"Good information is the basis of good decisions, but when it comes to information about Canada's labour market, the federal government is delivering a poor performance," a release by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says.
Its report card rating the government's performance on labour-market information gives mostly "C" grades in areas such as future labour-force needs and in-demand skills.
Criticism has grown over jobsdata quality, especially in recent years as Statistics Canada's budget has been cut and some surveys have been discontinued, such as the survey of labour and income dynamics.
Murky areas include job vacancies in cities, local unemployment rates and how recent grads are faring in the labour market.
The report card was designed by the chamber, with input from economist Don Drummond and representatives from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Institute for Research on Public Policy. It assesses whether Canadian businesses, educators and job-seekers are getting the information they need to understand the current and future jobs market.
The chamber gives a "B" grade when it comes to labour-force needs by geographic area. It assigns "C-minuses," however, for providing information on future labour needs and work force training.
"Despite the millions of dollars spent by government on labourmarket information, employers cannot get answers to simple questions to help them find workers with the skills they need," said Perrin Beatty, the chamber's president and chief executive officer. "Students, their parents, educators and employers are making critical decisions without the best information to inform them. That has to change."
The federal government came under fire last year for relying on a software program that included Kijiji online job listings, which in turn erroneously showed rising job vacancies. The government responded to critics last year by announcing a $14million investment in a new Statscan survey that will give more details on job openings and wage trends.
But despite that investment and word of a new national portal for information, other key reports have been discontinued or are available only as data files without analysis, the chamber noted.
A new government portal called Career Tool is meant to inform young people about high-demand fields of study. So far, the panel found it "very complicated" and "not accurate or useful."
In recent years "there have been suggestions there aren't enough people with the skills and attributes employers seek," said Mr. Drummond, former TD chief economist who is now on the faculty at Queen's University. But "labour-market information is often not available or is sometimes not readily accessible to those who could most benefit."
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce wants the federal government to "consider where investments in labour-market information are most needed," when the Forum of Labour Market Ministers meets this summer.