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National skills summit brings together Canadian experts

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June 26, 2014 by Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, hosted a one-day skills summit on June 25th with key experts to explore approaches to better link skills training and education with current and future labour market demand. Event participants discussed Canada’s skills challenges, found points of consensus on skills shortages and identified best practices and priorities for action.

Participants deliberated on key issues including:

  • the extent and nature of skilled labour shortages;
  • how to provide better labour market information to support youth and connect Canadians to available jobs;
  • how partnerships can improve the responsiveness of the educational system to labour market needs; and
  • ways to increase the participation of under-represented groups in the labour force.

The summit gathered over 200 prominent leaders from varying sectors including business, education, labour and policy.

In his remarks, Minister Kenney noted that his recent mission to Germany and the United Kingdom, to learn about other skills training systems, reinforced the importance of working together to address skills challenges. Collaboration across multiple sectors, employer involvement in training programs and addressing skills challenges through innovative approaches all emerged as key themes at the conference.

Minister Kenney highlighted the recent agreements with the provinces and territories on the Canada Job Grant as an example of how the Government is working to secure more employer involvement in training.

He also said that helping Canadians get the right skills and training is a shared responsibility. Employers, workers, unions, educational and training institutions, the provinces and territories all have an important role in supporting Canadians through hiring, training and education.

Quick Facts

  • The summit included four panel discussion topics: state of the labour market; labour market information; reforming education and vocational training; and involving under-represented Canadians in the labour force.
  • The panels were comprised of the following experts:
    Derek Burleton, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, TD Bank Group
    Ross Laver, Vice President of Policy and Communications, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
    Arthur Sweetman, Ontario Research Chair in Health Human Resources, McMaster University
    Mike Luff, Senior Researcher, Canadian Labour Congress
    Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
    Paul Davidson, President, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
    Don Drummond, Matthews Fellow and Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Queen’s University
    Karen Lior, Executive Director, Toronto Workforce Innovation Group
    Michael Atkinson, President, Canadian Construction Association
    Bob Blakely, Director of Canadian Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO
    Glenn Feltham, Vice-Chair of Polytechnics Canada and President of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
    Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director, Canadian Apprenticeship Forum
    Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
    Kathy Martin, Chair of Canadian Business SenseAbility
    Rita Karakas, President and CEO, Canada World Youth
    Karin Hunt, Executive Director, Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association
  • Panel discussions were chaired by:
    Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director, Macdonald-Laurier Institute
    Bill Robson, President and CEO, C.D. Howe Institute
    Michael Van Pelt, President, CARDUS France St-Hilaire, Vice President Research, Institute for Research on Public Policy
  • Special guest speaker of the day was Robert Hardt, President and CEO of Siemens Canada.
  • Canadians can follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #SKILLSsummit14.
  • Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes several measures to ensure training reflects the needs of the labour market and that Canadians have the skills to take advantage of the jobs and opportunities available to them.

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