Labour market planning is an exceedingly challenging activity considering the landscape is constantly shifting as a result of economic, social and technological changes. Traditional, periodic (five or ten year) plans no longer seem to be effective in the knowledge economy paradigm. Convergence is bringing forth new emerging jobs that fuse skills and knowledge from multiple disciplines. Many of the jobs that will be available in 2020 cannot even be imagined at the moment. As the landscape changes, labour market planning activities need to be on-going, cyclical, and constantly integrating and generating new data and research.
In a knowledge economy, collaboration and innovation, rather than competition, characterise business relationships as companies reorganize themselves into industry “clusters.” Ontario is home to three such clusters in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector – the Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener/Waterloo and Ottawa. Ottawa has many advantages including:
- Affordability, security and goodwill.
- Access to quality higher education institutions.
- A small but productive agricultural base.
- Sector hubs in ICT, healthcare and public administration.
- A plethora of think tanks and institutes devoted to creating knowledge.
- A highly educated, diverse and mobile workforce.
A healthy proportion of Ottawa’s population is made up of highly educated immigrants, women and aboriginals (a major youth demographic). As Ottawa’s multicultural population expands, it is in a unique position to explore emerging markets whose economies are booming.
At the same time, Ottawa faces challenges. With an ageing population, rising healthcare and energy costs, and a severe shortage of qualified labour forecasted over the next decades, Ottawa has to enhance the productivity of its labour force in order to generate the growth required to prosper.
Developing the local labour supply by integrating underutilized groups such as immigrants, aboriginals and youth, re-training underemployed, unemployed and existing workers, and attracting new workers, requires investments in education and training, and ensuring policies and regulatory environments are conducive to business.
Ottawa has a unique challenge – many jobs require potential employees to obtain security clearances. These clearances cost employers money, delay staffing and increase barriers to employment. Finding a way to streamline security clearances is of great significance to Ottawa employers.
Developing labour demand is equally important. Ottawa needs to support entrepreneurship to create new jobs and maximize favourable conditions to attract businesses to locate to the city.
To attract employers, knowledge workers and capital, Ottawa has to determine how it is going to brand itself and which niches it will develop. Ottawa has a number of potential niches. It can be a city reputed for its technology (including digital media, life sciences and clean tech), e-health and health technology, green construction and manufacturing hubs. These niches point to the emergence of new cross-disciplinary, convergent industries. There exists a window of opportunity for Ottawa to brand itself as Canada’s innovation capital.
In addition to long-term strategies, some imminent planning priorities have been identified for 2011-2012.
- Convergence is bringing forth new emerging jobs that fuse skills and knowledge from multiple disciplines. Identifying emerging demand and focusing on the required multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge will be key. Initial areas identified on which to focus include: green construction,Ottawa’s LRT initiative, and health technology/e-health.
- Employers are demanding certain cross-sectoral skills: behavioural competencies around people, communication and management skills, as well as basic technical skills and emerging multidisciplinary skills. Enhancing these skill-sets, particularly for workers in ICT and health, is a priority.
- Ottawa needs to effectively tap into labour supply to increase employment and address labour shortages in key areas. Immigrants,aboriginals and youth have all been identified as key populations on which to focus; many of whom are unemployed or under-employed.
- Ottawa’s employers have to be prepared for the oncoming labour shortages by engaging in strategic workforce planning. They needsupport in succession planning, talent management, business planning and marketing.
- Creating a culturally competent workforce and leveragingmultilingual skills should help Ottawa businesses’ tap into new markets/ economies.
- Entrepreneurship, particularly youth entrepreneurship, needs to be encouraged and supported if the economy is to grow in the long-term, particularly in growth industries (health, ICT and construction).
- We need to focus on innovation across all sectors to ensure that Ottawa is well-positioned in today’s knowledge economy and look for opportunities to brand the city as Canada’s innovation capital.
- A supportive relationship between governments and industry and a collaborative approach to labour market planning that engages key stakeholders is critical to Ottawa’s success.
The graphic below outlines the framework and the 2011 priorities which are detailed in the Strategic Plan section of this report. The Labour Market Planning and Service Delivery Committees have identified a phased approach to strategic planning, focusing on key priorities and sectors. The committees will review issues on an on-going basis and determine priorities based on maximizing the impact on Ottawa’s economy. For example, although the tourism sector was not identified as a short-term labour market priority for 2011, it is an integral part of Ottawa’s economy that offers opportunity for development and may be identified as a priority area in 2012-2013.
The Strategic Framework for Ottawa focuses on collaboration and innovation. The long-term strategy is to meet future develop Ottawa into Canada’s innovation capital and meet labour demand through developing a multi-pronged approach to labour supply. Building connections and educating the community will be an integral part of integrated labour market planning. These components will be incorporated into all priorities addressed in the coming years.