Over one million jobs will need to be filled in Québec by 2020. This represents thousands of people to train, immigrants to integrate and programs to review to ensure there is an effective fit between business needs and the skills of available workers. Clearly Québec is facing enormous labour challenges.
February 16 and 17, 2017, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal took part in the national labour event, the Rendez-vous national sur la main-d’œuvre (RVNMO), in Québec City. The Chamber took the opportunity to call on the government to introduce concrete measures that reflect the following four priorities.
Priority 1 – Adopt an agile, concerted approach to develop future skills
The government needs to show leadership by adopting a global, coherent approach to programs for matching training with jobs and for workforce integration. With many sectors facing specialized labour shortages, we need to move ahead in a concerted fashion.
However, our approach must be agile. We need to enable schools to quickly adapt their programs and offer training that reflects shifting labour needs. But agility isn’t solely the responsibility of schools; departments, agencies and businesses should also be agile.
Priority 2 – Develop a labour policy that reflects the city’s reality
The approach chosen has to take into account labour needs in Greater Montréal. With nine industrial clusters, the city is Québec’s economic driver, and a number of strategic economic sectors are concentrated in the metropolitan area.
Montréal also has the largest network of universities and colleges in the province, making it an essential player in training labour in Québec. The government’s labour strategy must ensure that it is a bridge between these organizations and the six administrative regions of Greater Montréal.
Priority 3 – Increase the technical, professional and university graduation rate in Québec
An important point was not sufficiently addressed during the Rendez-vous national sur la main-d’œuvre: the low graduation rate in Québec. A strategy for promoting education needs to be put in place.
Effective skills development requires continuing education, as well as an increase in the graduation rate in technical, professional and university disciplines. This is essential for the sustainability of our businesses, which depend on the long-term availability of qualified, skilled labour. The government can take action now by making education the priority in its next budget.
Priority 4 – Focus on the integration of immigrants
Discussions during the RVNMO confirmed the importance of integrating and retaining immigrants. The government needs to better align the skills profiles of immigrants with the needs of local businesses, moving from a model focused on human capital to one more focused on demand from businesses.
We also have to be sure to increase the retention of immigrants by offering foreign students and new immigrants sufficient francization initiatives.
The Chamber also intends to continue to show leadership in integrating and francizing immigrants through its Interconnection program and its language partnering program between merchants and students.
These four priorities are a common foundation that the groups that attended the RDVNMO can build on to find consensus on orientations and initiatives to address serious labour challenges in Québec.
In February 2016, the Chamber held a Strategic Forum on skills for tomorrow. To find out more about the city’s labour needs and economic opportunities, visit www.emploisdufutur.com.