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EMC discusses skills and labour shortages at Global Affairs Canada forum

December 17, 2021   Maryam Farag

(From left) Moderator Sergio Alcocer, President, COMEXI, Tom Harris, Executive Vice-President, Hillwood (USA), Emilio Cadena, President and CEO, Grupo Prodensa (Mexico) and Jean-Pierre Giroux, President, Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (Canada).
Photo: EMC.

At the invitation of Global Affairs Canada, Jean-Pierre Giroux, President, Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC), represented Canadian industry at a tri-lateral forum to discuss competitive landscape and workforce development issues for North American manufacturers.

The forum took place in conjunction with the first meeting of the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA/CUSMA/T-MEC) Competitiveness Committee. Representatives from the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. were in attendance to present their goals for the future of manufacturing competitiveness and workforce development, and to collaborate on regional efforts to enhance North American workers.

“EMC is pleased to represent Canadian manufacturers at this international forum, and the opportunity to engage our American and Mexican colleagues in solution-based discussions,” said Giroux. “Workforce shortages are a North American-wide issue which affects every region, every community. EMC is seeking to build industry-driven resources and solutions that will help manufacturers address future People, Plant and Process challenges.”

The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaced NAFTA, and is intended to create “a more balanced environment for trade, support high-paying jobs and grow the North American economy.”

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According to EMC, Canada’s goal for the USMCA/CUSMA/T-MEC is to allow Canadian manufacturers greater access to American and Mexican consumer markets. “Canadian-made goods have a high reputation, especially following the pandemic, and customer demand for products developed by Canadian manufacturers is strong. Sharing a common approach for skills, standards and certification makes sense.”

Giroux discussed EMC’s solutions, including sector-wide engagement with both employers, workforce, youth and other stakeholders, through labour market intelligence, national skilled trade occupational development, and micro-credential certification programs concentrated on onboarding, upskilling and reskilling, as well as other work-integrated learning resources. Skills certification, and the development of industry-driven, internationally recognized competency standards are also topics occupying business leaders’ minds.

“Growing our manufacturers’ ability to address capacity issues and better service/respond to global markets more directly will lead to greater economic opportunity,” said Giroux. “But this requires the right skills, attitudes, competency standards and skills certification methodology to provide a level playing field for all industry.”