There is immense human capital in the GLSLR ready to take advantage of the opportunities in advanced manufacturing, other knowledge-based sectors of our economy, and in skilled trades. However, in order to build the advanced workforce of the future, it will be critical to support and invest in science, engineering, technology, and math, together with creative thinking and hands-on skills development, at all levels of learning.
High-quality post-secondary training and the concentration of skills in urban areas give the GLSLR advantages over other regions, but there are still skills shortages as employers struggle to deploy the right talent to the right areas at the right time. One of the major impediments to business growth and infrastructure development is the shortage of skilled trades workers available for deployment when and where they are required. Employers report that shortages in skilled trades are the number one barrier to Canadian competitiveness.
The changing nature of work to shorter-term, project- oriented employment, an aging workforce, and the shift from traditional to advanced manufacturing are all factors that are exacerbating the shortage in skilled trades in parts of the economy and the GLSLR.
The problems faced by sectors characterized by short- term deployments, such as construction, engineering, after-sales service, and information technology, face challenges that are particularly acute. The ideal situation would be unimpeded labor mobility throughout the region, but the reality is quite different. Skilled workers and those in certified professions face a quagmire of different certification requirements to do the same job in the eight states and two provinces of the region.
In addition to certification and licensing, workers in the region face border and immigration challenges. Even though Canadian and American workers can utilize various visa, intercompany transferee, or temporary worker programs, dozens of issues impede labour mobility. Crossing the border for work, whether for an hour or a year, is not for the faint of heart or ill prepared. Employers and employees avoid it whenever possible, creating supply chain inefficiencies and diminishing regional competitiveness.
The challenges the Council of the Great Lakes Region seeks to reduce are not related to the lawful movement between territories, but the dozens of small differences that create large barriers, including: