01:53 AM

Creating one million jobs requires co-operation - In the News

President McKerlie advocates for collaboration at all levels to create a recovery that is equitable, inclusive and sustainable

In a contribution to The Hill Times, Mohawk College President Ron McKerlie, as the chair of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery, called for co-operation between governments, educators, and industry to achieve the federal government's stated goal of creating more than one million jobs to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.

The text of that submission follows.

In its Speech from the Throne last September, the federal government committed to making “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers.” That investment will be crucial to achieving its ambitious goal of creating more than one million jobs to restore employment to pre-pandemic levels. 

Achieving that goal will require co-operation between governments, educators, and industry. The government needs to identify partners that can maximize the impact of federal spending on workforce training. For a generational investment in training to have deep and lasting effects, the government needs to fund inclusive skills programs that prepare workers for the green, sustainability-focused jobs of today and the future. That kind of approach will be especially crucial to training Indigenous peoples and young Canadians who are looking for ways to succeed in a changing economy.

As governments know, workers must also be the cornerstone for building a stronger and more resilient economy in the aftermath of COVID-19. To ensure that workers enjoy the full benefits of the recovery from COVID-19, governments, educators, and employers need to collaborate on projects that will create and maintain good jobs, are good for the environment, are inclusive, and address socio-economic inequality.

The needs for sustainable job creation will vary across the country. But, from developing brand new curriculum for people entering the emerging hydrogen sector in Alberta to offering programs to update workers’ skills for the growing electric vehicle manufacturing industry in Ontario, the opportunities are endless.

Some stakeholder groups are already looking for ways to partner with the government on meeting that challenge and exploring the associated opportunities. For instance, Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) is a group of colleges, CEGEPs, training institutions, and polytechnics from across the country that have joined forces to educate a post-pandemic workforce to support a climate-focused economic recovery from the pandemic. 

With federal partnership, C2R2 members stand ready to rapidly train workers across Canada, including people who are underrepresented in the workforce, to meet skills gaps for a climate-resilient economy. We will help our communities revive and develop Canadian businesses through applied solutions to sustainability challenges. And our members will work with local industry and governments to serve as testing sites for innovative climate-change solutions.

The federal government could support that work in many ways—from funding rapid training programs to ensuring that training credits and grants allow for students to continue working while they gain new skills. The bottom line is that educators need support to help workers brace for the future. 

The government’s goals are ambitious, but we have to be ambitious to succeed and ensure a strong, resilient recovery for Canada. Canadian colleges have always risen to the challenge of ensuring that Canadian workers are trained for the jobs of tomorrow. We stand ready to get that job done once again.