McDaniel examining possible Canadian labour shortage and skills crisis

University of Lethbridge researcher Dr. Susan McDaniel is examining whether or not an approaching labour shortage or skills crisis looms in Canada.

Dr. Susan McDaniel is the Canada Research Chair In Global Population & Life Course and a professor of sociology.

McDaniel, Canada Research Chair in Global Population and Life Course as well as the Prentice Research Chair in Global Population and Economy, has been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Knowledge Synthesis Grant to examine scholarly evidence relating to the commonly voiced belief that Canada is experiencing, and will continue to experience, nationwide labour and skills shortages.

The findings of this critical study will undoubtedly feed into important policy decisions made by Canadian governments for years to come.

McDaniel, the project’s principal investigator, is working with other Alberta researchers (Dr. Lloyd Wong of the University of Calgary and Dr. Bonnie Watt-Malcolm of the University of Alberta) in conducting a synthesis of the existing peer-reviewed literature, in order to answer a number of questions about the realities and the mythologies surrounding Canada’s aging workforce and labour and skills shortages.

The team is examining journal articles focusing on demographic change, immigration and skills development in Canada, in order to answer a number of key questions.

“We’re looking at whether the notion that an impending labour shortage is true or not true, and, in fact, it’s not true. There are labour shortages in certain pockets of the economy, there are cyclical labour shortages, but across the country there are not labour shortages, and the same thing applies to skills shortages. That’s what we’re finding as we move forward.”

The team will present its findings in a policy forum in Ottawa (Feb. 11-12) and anticipates publishing the knowledge synthesis later in 2014.

Vice-President (Research) Dr. Dan Weeks says the U of L is uniquely positioned to conduct important policy work, due to the capacity that exists within the Prentice Institute and because of world-class researchers such as McDaniel.

“Susan brings a wealth of experience in policy-relevant research to the project,” says Weeks. “She has advised governments around the world on policy and is widely published and cited as a leading authority on challenges related to demographically aging societies, among other areas of sociological inquiry. This work is absolutely critical as our communities grapple with how to manage significantly-changing demographics.”

The Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy is a multi-disciplinary, cross-faculty institute dedicated to researching the long-term global impacts of demographic, economic and social issues related to changes in world population patterns. Launched in 2009, the Prentice Institute collaborates with researchers in Canada and elsewhere to address some of the most difficult challenges of the next generation.