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N.S. workers lack right skills, with job shortage looming

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Wed Feb 17 2010

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The confluence of an aging workforce and fewer employees will leave the province struggling for workers in less than five years, says Nova Scotia's labour minister.

(From thechronicleherald.ca) Speaking to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Marilyn More said the province's labour force is expected to shrink by 18,500 jobs by 2014. That same year, 40,000 people are expected to retire.

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"Nova Scotia's impending labour shortage has been a concern for some time," said More, who also holds the education portfolio.

She said the problem is made worse by many workers being unqualified for the jobs that are available.

"Our workforce does not possess sufficient skills, learning or experience for many of the positions that are coming vacant," More told the business group.

"Labour shortages are already occurring in some sectors, for example farm harvesters, to retail managers to health care."

More said taking measures to increase Nova Scotia's population won't solve the problem, although the province remains committed to attracting more immigrants.

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"Even if we double our immigration... we will still fall far below the immigration levels needed to meet our labour requirements."

More said the government will instead focus its efforts on the labour force that's here, promoting increased workplace "literacy."

She said about 38 per cent of the current workforce is undereducated and lacks the skills to move forward in a knowledge-based economy.

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