Alfred Moses: Labour Market Information Speech to NWT Chamber of Commerce

Check Against Delivery

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  It is my extreme pleasure to join you today to talk about what the future holds and how we can get Northerners working to ensure this wonderful territory we call home thrives and prospers. 

Many of you were here a year ago in this very room, when the Department of Education, Culture and Employment hosted the Skills 4 Success Symposium.  At that time we asked you to share your business experiences, knowledge and insights and be partners in the very important work the government is undertaking to get people working, now and into the future.  We asked you to work with us to increase the skills and employment success of Northerners.  To help us plan to match education and skills to jobs that will be available.  Today, I am pleased to announce a major step forward in that work. 

Today, I am going to share with you some very detailed research that The Conference Board of Canada has undertaken with ECE.  That research tells us which jobs are going to be required over the coming years and what education and skills Northerners will need to secure employment.

At the Symposium  last year, there was tremendous energy, passion and a willingness to try something new, because, honestly, we know that despite our best efforts and good intentions, the current approach to adult and postsecondary education, skills training and employment is not meeting the varied needs of our Northern residents and employers.

Throughout all the dialogue and discussions we heard a collective call for change to build a strong culture of postsecondary education and employment based on evidence-based need.  That’s what the Skills 4 Success Initiative is all about: improving employment success for Northerners, closing skills gaps for in-demand jobs, and more effectively responding to employer and industry needs.

We want Northerners to have opportunities to succeed in life, whether it is advancing their education, gaining employment, or seizing a business opportunity.

As successful business people, you know the value of a skilled workforce with a good work ethic and how it can spur economic diversification and sustainable growth.  You see first-hand how developing local talent helps to retain a local workforce, matched to the available jobs that you have to offer.  You also know how important it is to develop people with skills that are transferable between and across sectors.  

People who can multi-task within your organizations and can mentor new employees. This will ensure a vibrant, diversified and people-focused economy which supports business growth and economic opportunities.

During last years’ engagements, we listened intently.  We have used your insights and the feedback from over 700 people from across the North, to develop the Skills 4 Success 10-Year Strategic Framework. 

This was released at the end of last year and is the first part of an informed and intelligent plan to get Northerners working.  It lays out four goals for what we have to do, as partners, to develop the NWT labour force.  We must:

  1. Increase skill levels through relevant education and training;
  2. Bridge education and employment gaps through targeted supports;
  3. Grow the NWT workforce through partnerships; and
  4. Improve decision-making with relevant labour market information.

To realize these goals we had to ask ourselves some key questions.  What are our labour market demands and how are they changing?  Are they the same across the NWT and across industry sectors?  What are the in-demand jobs and what education and skills are needed to attain those jobs?  How can we ensure that the decisions and actions we take today make a difference in the future?

We wanted to get some independent advice before we could fully answer the questions and so we turned to The Conference Board of Canada for their insight and objectivity.  Today, I am very pleased to release one of the most comprehensive labour market analyses ever undertaken in the NWT. 

The Conference Board of Canada produced this booklet, called the Northwest Territories Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment.  It is supported by another massive document called the Labour Market Information Resource that contains all the data tables and charts from which the Conference Board formed their analysis and insights.  Copies of the booklet are here today for you to take.  The larger document, which is several hundred pages long, we’ll post on our website to preserve the environment, which is especially important during Earth Week!

The publication of this critical data is a very important milestone. We now have thorough labour market information that takes into account scenarios for changes in our economy, but also considers aging in the workforce and other turnover which results in employment opportunities.

Specifically, the NWT Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment tells us what jobs will be in demand over the next 5, 10 and 15 years and includes the education and skill levels needed for those jobs.  This information is important because it will help students, job seekers and workers make informed decisions about careers that interest them.  Employers, business owners, educators, trainers, and policy makers can also use this information to develop human resource strategies and deliver programs that respond to long-term employment needs.

We are looking forward to sharing this information widely so that NWT residents, other workers who want to move here, and territorial employers have easy access to relevant, accurate and timely information to make informed career and business decisions. 

We think this information is amazing, but we recognize that not everyone will want to read the documents in detail.  It’s good stuff, but to be fair, reading that larger study is going to take a few days.  However we have a solution.  To make it easier to dip into, ECE has also produced a plain language handbook that contains highlights of the in-demand jobs in the six skill categories and where ECE provides supports for individuals and employers.  It’s easy to read, lays out all the key points and provides information on where you can get help and support.  These booklets are also available here today.

Our government believes that placing priority on skill development and closing adult and postsecondary education, skills training and employment gaps will help drive positive social and economic outcomes across the North.  

We will use the labour market resource to ensure that our adult and postsecondary education and training programs keep pace with current and future labour market needs.  We will make improvements to programs, supports and pathways.  And will ensure that as we plan for change, that our decisions are informed and based on solid labour market information relevant to the NWT.

All along, Skills 4 Success has been an inclusive process.   We have met with business and industry, indeed with many of you here in this room, all levels of governments, NGOs, youth, job seekers, retirees, communities, and postsecondary education and training partners. 

I would be remiss to not acknowledge the efforts and support of your Chamber’s Executive Director, Mr. Mike Bradshaw, who has maintained regular contact with my department and has been involved in the Skills 4 Success Initiative since its inception in 2014.  His advice has been extremely important and he has represented you well.

We will continue to involve the NWT Chamber of Commerce and other important stakeholders as we move to the next phase of our work that is the development of a 4-year Action Plan. 

The Action Plan will state clear, measureable objectives and will identify who is responsible for what activity.  It will link to the goals and priorities in the Strategic Framework and will help us achieve our vision where NWT residents have the skills, knowledge and attitudes for employment success and businesses thrive and grow.

We know that a good education, skills development and job training level the playing field and enable people to overcome challenging personal circumstances. They encourage ambition and inspire confidence, making it possible for people to achieve greater goals.  This results in well-paying jobs, a higher quality of life and better health for individuals, who can put their skills to work to build strong, resilient communities.  These opportunities are critical to our overall success as a territory. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to give you some specifics uncovered in our research so I will ask my Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. David Stewart to lead you through the highlights of the labour market research and explain how it can support you, in making evidence-based business decisions for your operations.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to join your conference today and particularly for being key players in the work we are undertaking.  The future is in our hands, ladies and gentlemen, and I am confident we can make it a very exciting one.

David, over to you.