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Workforce Development

Mutual Skills Recognition for Regional Workforce Development

The quality of the region’s post-secondary training is one of our competitive strengths, and yet many parts of the region suffer from skills shortages. The region can do better at deploying the right talent to the right areas at the right time. A major impediment to labor mobility across the region is certification, as skilled tradespeople require additional/different certification to do the same job in other states/provinces. This is a particularly acute problem in sectors characterized by short-term deployments (e.g. construction, engineering, after-sales service, IT product development).

Cross-border skills shortages and labor mobility issues, however, tend to be dismissed as immigration reform issues that are too large to tackle, but in reality a number of recognition and mobility barriers are not related to issues of immigration or citizenship, especially in areas where Canadian and American workers can already utilize a NAFTA (TN-1), an H1-B visa from the United States or Canadian federal or provincial temporary foreign worker programs.

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:

  • Recognition of skills and certification across provinces and states;
  • Border delays related to paperwork and certification;
  • Burdensome or unclear procedures for low-risk business travellers;
  • Delays in identifying labor market needs and occupational requirements;
  • Health and safety equipment and certification issues; and
  • Waivers for minor criminal offences.

As a result, the Council, working with partners from around the region, will conduct a comprehensive analysis of needs and feasible solutions with a view to developing a pilot program to facilitate movement in high-demand sectors including: construction, energy/mining, health care and information technology.

The major operational areas the Council is proposing to focus on are:

  • Recognizing the lack of sufficient local skills to perform a task;
  • Recognizing the legal right to work in another market;
  • Recognizing the individual’s ability to perform the tasks required;
  • Replacing case-by-case decision making at the border with accessible and easy-to use advance screening measures; and
  • Facilitating the worker’s ability to understand and comply with all rules and regulations in the destination market.