The labour shortage in Canada’s CARE sectors has been making headlines for years. These headlines, however, has been amplified by the circumstances in the spotlight due to situations arising from managing resources in pandemic.
Our health care system has seen a tremendous strain and has had a significant impact on the health care workers tasked with caring for Canadians. And as the pandemic raged on and cases were on the rise, the health care workers faced more challenges such as increased work hours, limited days off and reduced vacation time. This strain was not limited to one specific demographic or role, nor was it unique to one facility; doctors, nurses, health care aides, personal support workers in hospitals, personal care homes and clinics all felt the impact. And while much of the stress imposed was caused by Covid-19, it was more so compounded by the affect the pandemic had on a sector that was already suffering from a shortage of qualified workers. According to Stats Canada, vacancies in the health care sector almost doubled during the last two years.
Daycare centres across Canada also felt the impact of the pandemic. Limitations and restrictions in place to protect the country’s most vulnerable from Covid-19 brought on more obstacles for those tasked to care for children in the centres. Struggling to communicate through masks with children and concern about the transmission of germs for those not eligible for vaccines at the time made it nearly impossible to maintain a positive and cheery disposition on a daily and ongoing basis.
Not unlike those working in the health care system, many early childhood educators were tested amid the pandemic; many of which like their health care counterparts, opted to exit their positions creating an even further shortage of qualified ECE and daycare workers.
And all of this while the federal government announced a plan to implement more affordable, $10/day childcare to families across the country.
These two sectors have opened thousands of careers positions across the country. In fact, according to the Canadian Child Care Federation, there will be an estimated 146,000 new childcare spots by 2026, creating the need for tens of thousands of qualified workers alone.
Member institutions of Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) are well poised to prepare individuals pursuing careers in both the healthcare and childcare sectors. Many of these programs are offered at numerous colleges across Canada and provide varying levels of training and skills.
Personal Support Worker
In the healthcare field for example, a one-year (2-semester) Personal Support Worker (PSW) program will enable graduates of the program with the skills necessary to provide support services to individuals and families in need of assistance. This role is best suited to individuals who demonstrate a higher level of compassion, empathy and concern for others, particularly for providing care and assistance to improve the quality of life for those needed assistance. Most of these programs will offer both a comprehensive blend of theory and clinical training. generally diversified for those enrolled to gain knowledge in both community (private homes, hospitals, etc.) and long-term care (retirement homes, assisted living facilities) settings. Tuition for this program is under $5000 for the course for domestic students. As is the case with most of the care-directed programs, individuals will be required to consent to a criminal background check before entering the practical part of the programs. PSW graduates may use this course as a steppingstone into a Practical Nursing program (where applicable).
Nursing is another area in which the country is suffering a severe shortage of qualified individuals. Nursing, however, does have several programs, each with different terms, different roles based on credentials and of course, varying compensation as a result.
Some colleges will offer a two-year diploma for a Practical Nursing program. In this role, the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) will provide basic medical and nursing care such as monitoring vital signs (blood pressure, temperature), inserting catheters, ensuring patient comfort and reporting patient status to other practitioners. The approximate tuition for the 2-year program will come in under $20,000.00. Graduates can expect to earn an hourly rate between $22.00 – $30.00.
Individuals looking for more hands-on training at a more intense level of care might consider a Bachelor’s Degree Nursing Program (BScN). These degree programs are 4-years in length and are offered in collaboration with partner institutions (universities). Learning experiences take place in classroom, community and clinical environments that integrate both theory and practicum. In these positions, nurses provide most of the critical nursing care in hospitals. They will manage the tasks assigned to LPN’s along with administering medications, inserting IV’s, operating and monitoring medical equipment, performing diagnostic test and collaborating with physicians and other practitioners.
Early Childhood Educator
In this field, individuals will have to enjoy and commit to working with young children and their families. As an early childhood educator (ECE), workers will support children who primarily learn through play. Responsibilities include creating a curriculum to invite development using appropriate methods that are crucial to encouraging learning. The methods will include early literacy and linguistics, numeracy and creative arts and play experiences both inside and outdoors. An ECE works alongside colleagues, families and community partners. Some specific areas that one will study include (but are not limited to):
- Planning and programming for infants, toddlers and children of pre-school and school ages
- Observation and assessment
- Early childhood guidance techniques
- Children with diverse abilities
- Teaching to learn through play
- Relationship building with family and community
This program will combine classroom theory and implement practical learning in real-life settings. The practical element at times provides instruction based on feedback to help one better develop their skills, to recognize stages of development to enable an effective curriculum plan based on the child’s interests and needs. Graduates will find rewarding careers with childcare centres, daycare facilities, pre-schools etc. This is a rapidly expanding area as many parents struggle with placement while understanding the need. This two-year program will see tuition costs generally around $15,000.00; all applicants must provide a Criminal Record Check with a Vulnerable Sector Check.
There is also a high demand for individuals with an ECE Diploma. With ECE Degree, there is a variety of classes that one will need to complete, and a mandatory period of student teaching required. Along with the general education classes, one will likely need to complete added course work in various disciplines including classroom instruction, children’s literature, social/emotional education and other added elements. While most fall under provincial jurisdiction and vary by province, an ECE diploma may offer some added credibility to those who wish to operate or own a licensed daycare.
Of course, there are other positions within the care sectors; many of which are in high demand and most of which will offer immediate employment in a rewarding career for the individuals that are best suited. Colleges and Institutes Canada members will provide quality education in these areas a quick path to immediate employment.
By: Lindsay Taylor