The skills gap across Canada has been the topic of discussion for some time now. Forecasts have indicated real shortfalls and we know from the numbers that the aging population of baby boomers is retiring and there aren't enough qualified workers to fill their roles. It casts a dark shadow over Canada's economy and experts are divided when it comes to solutions. And it's not just employers that are feeling the pressure, employees are feeling it too. Last year, 90 per cent of Canadians who responded to our Labour Trends Study identified the skills gap as a major issue facing our workforce.

The key to closing the skills gap in the future lies in young people; and according to a recent Randstad study, it seems that young Canadians are getting the message. There is a wealth of opportunity for career building within the various skilled trade sectors across the country, and people are taking notice.

What's peaking their interest could be the opportunity to create, explore and experiment within so-called traditional fields. Many of today's job seekers have grown up in a high-tech, dynamic era where the first and fastest to market are rewarded. We believe that innovation -- and the chance to work within a team of innovators -- is appealing to Canadian workers. Job seekers who responded to our Employer Branding Study say they are increasingly attracted to companies who require engineers, computer scientists, data architects and other highly skilled, technical professionals.

Companies like Pratt & Whitney, IBM Canada Limited, and Bombardier that have built reputations around the newest, best or most efficient technologies get a ringing endorsement from Canadian employees, who this year rank these and other innovators in the top 20 companies Canadians want to work for.

A positive sign for the skills gap

This is an important consideration in terms of addressing Canada's looming skills gap. The survey numbers show that nearly 44 per cent of Generation Y are seeking out jobs in the Transport & Logistics sector, followed by Engineering & Construction and High Tech Manufacturing.

In-demand sectors as identified by job seekers:

1. Transport & Logistics (44 per cent)

2. Engineering & Construction (41 per cent)

3. High Tech Manufacturing (39 per cent)

4. Industry & Manufacturing (36 per cent)

5. Raw Materials (36 per cent)

6. Motor Vehicle & Parts (34 per cent)

7. Energy (32 per cent)

These numbers may be surprising, but they point to good news when it comes to the Canadian economy and the need to narrow the skills gap. There's still work to be done, however. We need to recognize that the better we are at producing talent, especially where it's needed, is key in our success. When it comes to skilled trades, a shift in thinking needs to be made in schools and at home that the blue collar jobs of today are the white collar jobs of tomorrow. The appetite is there among our youth -- let's feed it.

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