Yukon’s labour market services a mixed bag, study finds

Yukon does a relatively good job providing employment services, but could do more to involve the private sector in training programs, says a report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Yukon does a relatively good job providing employment services, but could do more to involve the private sector in training programs, says a report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The report says Yukon does well including input from First Nation governments and other “stakeholders” on labour market needs through the territory’s Labour Market Framework. Jonathan Barr, a policy analyst with the OECD, said Yukon’s “government-to-government” relationship with First Nations is a model for other jurisdictions to follow.

“The Yukon is showing leadership in how it’s dealing with First Nation communities,” he said.

Barr also said the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation’s apprenticeship program, where the First Nation does the associated paperwork on behalf of local businesses is a program other places could copy.

And Barr said Cold Climate Innovation is a good example of collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“There’s a lot of examples of how you guys are getting things right,” said Denise Gareau, director of Employment and Social Development Canada. “These watertight silos we see so often are going the way of the dinosaur here.”

But the report also says Yukon employers need to have more input on training and educational programs. Barr said Yukon businesses could do a better job generating training opportunities, possibly by reorganizing workplaces to make on-the-job training more practical.

Yukon gets a middling grade in the flexibility of its employment services. That’s in part, Barr said, because some communities are too small to provide those services themselves.

“Flexibility is a tricky issue because (Yukon) is such a small jurisdiction and everything is run out of Whitehorse,” he said.

The report also urges the Yukon government to add conditions to procurement contracts that specify and calls for more entrepreneurship skills to be included in Yukon College’s curriculum.

Researchers worked for over two years to produce the report, which also includes case studies from Saskatchewan. Barr said that’s because the OECD is interested both in Indigenous issues and the way local policies drive job creation.

Yukon appears not to suffer from youth unemployment as badly as many other parts of the developed world. But Barr said Yukon’s youth employment figures are hazy because the sample sizes here are so small.

He said governments should collect more and better labour market data.

“I also think there’s a role for the community college sector to play a stronger role in producing labour market information … in terms of broad trends: what’s happening with job growth and economic development here in the Yukon.”

The OECD report was released the same day as new job market figures from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics which showed a sharp spike in the territory’s unemployment rate this summer. The jobless rate jumped from 6.1 per cent in July to 7.8 per cent in August. The change was due to an increase in the labour force, by 400 to 21,800, which matched an increase in the number of unemployed, by 400 to 1,700.

Contact Chris Windeyer at chris.windeyer@yukon-news.com

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