Monday, 26 August 2013

The Skills Shortage Lie.

If you were to ask me to give you a reason to be a Toronto Star subscriber I'd give you the name Carol Goar (or Thomas Walkom or David Olive for that matter). Not only do I find her sensible and being in agreement with her much of the time, I have also found that much of her writing on social issues affecting Canadians has an immigration reform angle - not of the kind she'd welcome I imagine since she does write from the left of the political spectrum - that brings into doubt the necessity of maintaining the highest immigrant intake levels on a per-capita basis in the world year after year.

Her latest commentary does that again. In it she reports on the findings of economist Don Drummond who has been a "skill shortage" skeptic for some time.

In her commentary she notes that "there were 6.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy"; that "there are no wage spikes in the skilled trades, information technology or scientific, professional and technical services" and "if Canada had skill shortages, employers would be paying a premium for workers in those fields"; and that "Ottawa does not have the ability to forecast labour needs accurately" because "its methods are flawed, its projections unreliable," according to Don Drummond.

Furthermore she notes that according to information provided in the 2013 federal budget approximately 4% of available jobs went unfilled leading to a discrepancy with StatsCan findings. Curious about the discrepancy Don Drummond inquired about the methodology of the finance department that led to that figure. He was stonewalled by the finance department on the grounds of confidentiality disallowing him from verifying Ottawa's claims. So he discounted them as unreliable since they can't be verified.

Another fact to ponder not mentioned in the article is that the Canadian labour force is the best educated workforce in the whole of the industrialized world. Per-capita Canadian workers are in possession of more post-secondary education and training than any where else and ever before. One can say Canada is producing more skilled workers than it's economy can handle. Put another way one can say the private sector is unable to accommodate a growing skilled labour force and so shifts blame elsewhere for fear of highlighting a failure of the system. Or, they simply lie because it's in their interest to do so because they want skilled workers at fire-sale prices. When you get the same spiel coming out of the United States - the country with arguably the best education system in the world - you start to tempt incredulity.

So the "skills shortage" myth isn't so much a myth but an outright lie.

The arguments favouring the perpetuation of the lie are familiar. The most common one is a disconnect between what the labour market needs and what Canadians are in training for much in the pursuit of the so-called "useless degree." I call bullsh*t on this. Anyone who has demonstrated some form of intellectual proficiency is employable. So why aren't they being employed? The answer is most likely the simplest one: Canadian businesses have excused themselves from training and retaining a workforce. They prefer a workforce where the individual bears all the risks and costs of training - with government subsidy - to be exploited for profit with little investment coming from the employer. In essence when it comes to investing in a workforce the private sector wants a free lunch. That being the case the business community only has itself to blame.

Another favourite is that there is a skills shortage in the trades (as if this excuse is enough to justify the steady importation of more than a quarter of a million foreigners onto Canadian soil permanently). However, if it weren't for the cond0 and housing building booms - projects of short-term employment engaged in the construction of buildings of no long-term production value and economic use aside from residential purposes - I doubt there'd be much of a skills trade shortage to cry about (but I'm sure they'd make it up anyway). Besides, if they were serious about addressing the skilled trades shortage then why do the Philippines, India, and China continue to occupy top spots as source countries for immigrants. You'd imagine that countries with building codes on par with Canada's would figure somewhere at the top but nope!

So why is the lie allowed to continue to influence government immigration policy when clearly it is a lie? The answer is powerful interests need it. Politicians need votes and to pander to immigrant/ethnic vote banks, the banks need more people to take out mortgages (and create bank accounts they can steal money from under the guise of "service fees") to pad bank profits and executive performance pay while fueling a housing boom they expect will continue 'til the second coming of Jesus. (Indeed, the housing market and the financial sector significantly influence GDP measurements to such an extent that to let either falter wouldn't look good to a government wishing to stay in power.) And most importantly the business community needs cheap skilled labour which is what they really mean when they say there is a skills shortage. When confronting an electorate that is growing increasingly weary of an immigration policy and it's long-term effects on the country you gotta tell 'em something so they will support a system that is more harmful to them than beneficial. And what are you going to tell someone to accept something that hurts them more than helps?


Cheryl Prosyk said...

What can we as Canadians do to stop this injustice to all the unemployed Canadians?

Anonymous said...

How? Simple - stop scamming us immigrants out of our money. You make us think our skills are required here whereas I think this is true: its about us buying property here, spending money here, then returning to our home countries with half-destroyed careers. I think immigration here is just a budget-balancing scam.

Anonymous said...

I have ALL the answers to your questions. Canada brings 250,000+ Immigrants to provide the top corporations of Canada 250,000+ new customers per year and the same get the top-brains of the world for minimum wage or lesser (new Immigrants pay higher interest rates and higher Insurance premiums).

Immigrants bring a whopping $7.5BN into Canada per year, and people like me who came to Canada since the 80s contribute $150BN to the economy each year (give or take 25%).

From businesses like Academic-Photographers to Tour operators, Insurance, Telecom, Construction, Schools/Universities, etc, it is all a racket (Insurance, fuel, etc cost more in towns/cities where new Immigrants are high).

When I wrote to Industry Canada about the outsourcing of Canadian jobs to India/China/Eastern-Europe, etc their answer to me was that the Government needs to build 'trade relationships' with these nations.

(Big corporations are now bringing in 'illegal' employees on visit visas and housing them in apartments/condos with internet connections to get work done).

As an early settler (immigrant of the 1800s decent) told me 'Canada has priced itself out of the Market'. What do we have to offer the world? Nothing, except Immigration. Another similar of early-immigrant-decent told me that 'every government has progressively taken away freedoms from the Canadian citizen'. Both these gentleman were over 75 years of age (one was from Ottawa and the other from Newfoundland)!

By allowing Immigrants to 'keep their identity' Canada has practiced an effective and subtle form of discrimination and racism - if you don't know the language/culture you stand out!

The government harps on refugees, except for a very few, refugees also bring wealth into the Country, they just 'jump the queue'.

Canada is a lie - especially Toronto/GTA, Calgary/Edmonton and Vancouver/Surrey! I am sure Mr. Rex Murphy agrees with me.

We hail from British-English speaking families (from Asia) and we have made friends and are able to write stuff like this because of our English expertise, and have integrated very well and are now 'fighting for Canada'. I am trained in Data Pattern Analysis and have worked/lived in many cities in the world.

Mark Carney (born in Fort Smith. NWT) has no clue (my opinion), he (the Liberals) and the Government gave the Banks a bailout of $114BN (in 2008) to save the big corporations and use the CMHC to ATTEMPT to recover the money and have now made housing (from coast-to-coast-to-coast) unaffordable to the average Canadian. It is believed that the Immigrants who fuelled this inflation are now leaving Canada by 'cashing in' and others are leaving in disgust.

The New Immigrant and the average Canadian, both are SLAVES for the BIG CORPORATIONS and are ‘in the same boat’.

I am a new Immigrant of 5 years. I have stopped giving business to ANY large corporation whose head office is out of the town I live (except Insurance, but that 'industry' puts the Mafia to shame) in, in Canada!

My opinion, Mark Carney and anybody who suppoted the bailout should be barred from any public life and economic Immigration must stop Immediately!

Thank you.

John B. said...

Directly speaking about my country, I´m supporting the idea of open borders. It stems from my libertarian belief, which states that people are not illegal. They are constantly searching for new opportunities, and I don´t blame them for going to live to another country. Actually, I admire them, because it is so hard to imagine how it feels to leave everyone behind, while you work low wage jobs somewhere on the other side of the world. It is so sad that Canadian government is dealing with immigration by introducing quite harsh restrictive immigration laws. I hope that there will be someone smarter in the charge, who can see the advantages of letting people come and live in your country.

Anonymous said...

Stop lying to immigrants to keep your economy alive with our savings we spend here. We uproot ourselves to find out here its all been a lie to entice us to come and waste our savings. You are destroying lives.

PaxCanadiana said...

John B. You linked to an opinion piece by a realtor. Hardly a disinterested party when it comes to immigration.

Anonymous said...

I agree liars it's deception on a grand scale, you're not destroying my career anymore. I'm English have a post grad in marketing and apparently my skills were needed. Interesting concept, oh yes my skills may be desirable but they don't want to pay for them at market rates, why because they can clearly see I'm an immigrant and they feel they have a lever to exploit my wages down. To put numbers against it 110$ to 70 to 80$, great deal for the corporation, but ask your selfs this will I stay feeling duped, will I be motivated and really want to make you profit, or will I not be drawn in by this scam and take my ability back to my home country!