Barriers to world markets for energy products takes second place.
OTTAWA—Skills shortages was the number one problem for Canadian businesses in 2012 and is considered the biggest barrier to competitiveness for 2013, according to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
On Thursday, the Chamber released its Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013 report, where it identified the biggest challenges for Canadian companies in 2013, based on the opinions of its membership.
“We held consultations across Canada that enabled us to gain a better grasp on this critical issue,” said Perrin Beatty, Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
The Chamber of Commerce says the skill shortage, which was masked by the recession, is now apparent. Increasingly, the skills possessed by Canadian workers are not the skills Canadian businesses require. The report says—according to one estimate—by 2016 there will be an additional 550,000 people out of work who will not qualify for the jobs that exist, and this could reach over one million by 2021.
“Labour market studies show that mining will need to hire 10,000 workers every year for the next 10 years,” said Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada. “The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is right to identify skills shortages as the top issue facing the country and we all need to work together—industry, governments, educational institutions, First Nations and other partners—to ensure Canada’s economy does not falter because we fail to fill the jobs our economy has to offer.”
Second, Canadian energy products need to gain better access to world markets in 2013 or the country risks “missing out on a historic opportunity,” the organization says.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says federal, territorial and provincial governments need to foster relationships and build the infrastructure necessary to support the Canadian energy industry.
“Canada’s competitiveness is pivoting from an almost sole reliance on the United States market to one with much more global diversity,” said David Collyer, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “A key enabler for Canada’s market diversity is the necessary infrastructure to access these global markets.”
The rest of the list included:
• Inadequate workforce productivity;
• Inadequate public infrastructure planning;
• Tax complexity and structure;
• Poor innovation performance;
• Deficient strategies for trade success in new markets;
• Internal barriers to trade;
• Uncompetitive travel and tourism strategies; and
• Lack of access to capital
“We have a choice. Either we act urgently to improve our competitiveness or we will pay a high price in lost jobs and prosperity,” said Beatty. “Working together, we’ve started to address these problems over the past year. The challenge for 2013 is to build on this progress and start closing the gap between Canadian business and our international competitors.”
With a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce represents more than 192,000 businesses and lobbies all levels of government on behalf of these organizations on both domestic and international issues.