The provincial government is taking new steps to deal with the economic and social effects of Nova Scotia’s aging population. Education Minister Jamie Muir announced today, June 21, a $150,000 Skills Nova Scotia study into how changing demographics will affect the labour market, jobs, education and the provincial economy. “The makeup of Nova Scotia’s work force, and society as a whole, will change considerably in the years ahead and we need to be prepared,” said Mr. Muir. “We’ll continue to work with our private- and public-sector partners, through Skills Nova Scotia, to evaluate opportunities and prepare workers to fill positions in areas that are most in need.” By 2021, 39 per cent of Nova Scotia’s population will be older than 54 years of age, and by 2029, only 60 per cent of Nova Scotians will be of working age, compared to 70 per cent in 2004. “As more Nova Scotians move toward retirement, we need to focus on improving productivity, supporting new growth sectors and responding to an evolving social and economic environment,” said the minister. The study was announced during a NovaKnowledge luncheon debate featuring internationally-known author and demographic expert David Foot. The announcement accompanied the release of the province’s Skills Nova Scotia annual progress report and action plan. “Nova Scotia is, and will continue to be, at the forefront when it comes to addressing the challenges related to shifting demographics because Atlantic Canada is the first region in Canada to experience these changes,” said David Foot. “Now is the time to prepare for upcoming changes, and the province’s Skills Nova Scotia agenda is a proactive step in the right direction.” Government has introduced, and is currently working on, a number of policy initiatives to address changing demographics, including: “As an employer and a member of the business community, we’re interested in the potential impact of demographic changes here in Nova Scotia,” said Bob Shaw, vice chair, the Shaw Group Limited. “We look forward to working with the provincial government to prepare for future challenges and opportunities, and to train Nova Scotians to meet the demands of Nova Scotia’s evolving economy.” The Skills Nova Scotia Annual Progress Report 2004-05 and Skills Nova Scotia Action Plan 2005-06 report on government programs, services and strategic initiatives that focus on educating, training and building Nova Scotia’s work force. Launched in 2002, Skills Nova Scotia is a partnership of provincial departments that works with business, labour, education and training institutions and community organizations to build Nova Scotia’s workforce and contribute to a thriving economy. The objectives and goals in the Skills Nova Scotia framework will be updated in the fall following a consultation with all partners. More information about Skills Nova Scotia and copies of the annual report and action plan are available on the website at http://skillsnovascotia.ednet.ns.ca . Details about the research contract and request for proposals will be available on the website in July. Skills Nova Scotia Nova Scotia’s Immigration Strategy Nova Scotia’s Nursing Strategy Strategy for Positive Aging Youth Employment and Skills Development Strategy Aboriginal Employment Strategy the Community Development Policy Initiative Opportunities for Prosperity.