One side effect of being the editor of a small town newspaper is that one receives an abundance of emails from various individuals and groups about a wide variety of topics.
For example, we recently received several media releases regarding Canadians’ personal finances.
Did you know that three-quarters (75 per cent) of British Columbia residents believe they have an “excellent/good” level of financial knowledge – the highest in the country. At the same time, close to the same number (73 per cent) consider the financial knowledge level of the “average Canadian” to be “not very good/terrible.”
This reminds us of the famous study (Svenson, 1981) that found that 93 per cent of U.S. drivers sampled and 69 per cent of the Swedish put themselves in the top 50 per cent (above the median) for driving skills.
According to another media release, Canadians are carrying record levels of debt and yet, surprisingly, 62 per cent of those surveyed are comfortable with their financial situation.
The research also reveals that while 45 per cent of Canadians say they have never faced a debt problem, 70 per cent admit to needing immediate help with day-to-day financial matters.
What appears to be happening is the middle class is getting poorer and, rather than admit to that fact and reduce spending, too many people are borrowing to keep up appearances.
A third media release carries a possible way forward. It is from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and talks about this nation’s “skill crisis.”
A shortage in skilled workers to meet the growing demands of today’s economy was hidden by the recession but is now becoming fully apparent, it says.
Four key priorities are identified:
• Upskilling – Upgrading the skills of the existing labor force and better employ under-utilized groups;
• Immigration – Ensuring immigration policy is aligned with local labor markets and employers’ needs;
• Education – Improving the connections between educators and employers to balance supply with demand for skilled trades and highly skilled occupations; and
• Aboriginal peoples – Focusing on education and workforce development especially in the West and the territories where the economic and social opportunities and risks are greatest for this population.