Untapped potential: Creating a better future for service workers

Released October 2013

A rising number of workers in Toronto are employed in temporary, part-time, low-paying positions in routine-service industries, but there is a way forward.

Ontario’s economy, and its traditional economic stronghold in the Toronto region are slowly returning to pre-recessionary levels of employment. Yet there has been growing concern about the kinds of jobs the economy is creating. The growing prevalence of “precarious employment” – jobs that are temporary, part-time, with few benefits and low wages – has been widely discussed in the media in recent months.

To tackle precarious employment and improve outcomes for workers, the Institute provides a number of recommendations:

• Find new ways of enhancing the creativity content of service jobs through increased certification, better training, and job designs that require more creative input from workers.
• Increase vocational education to help create a dedicated and professionalized routine-service workforce.
• Create tax credits for vocational training programs undertaken by businesses similar to apprenticeship tax incentives.
• Help youth and immigrants better integrate into the labour market and have their skills recognized.
• Prioritize long-term investments in worker retention and view employees as assets. Increase creativity content of jobs. Invest in and reward employee skill and productivity enhancements.
• Extend publicly-funded benefits to workers.

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Topics: Social policy