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Joint letter from the Skills Working Group to Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, and Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The Skills Working Group is a public-private partnership established to help develop and scale initiatives that can fill sectoral skills gaps and build a more skilled and resilient workforce.

Dear Ministers,

As the CEOs of the Business Council of Canada and the Business + Higher Education Roundtable, we are writing to congratulate you on your recent appointments and to inform you about an important initiative we’ve recently launched to support your work.     

We created the Skills Working Group earlier this year to bring together business and education leaders from across the country to identify, develop, and scale up business-led reskilling and upskilling initiatives that can help fill sectoral skills gaps and build a more skilled, agile, and resilient workforce. Sectors represented by this unique public-private partnership include higher education; financial and digital services; automotive, forestry, and energy; as well as advanced manufacturing, real estate, and construction.    

We are keen to help your government deliver on its upskilling and reskilling commitments by providing support and advice, as well as helping lead the public-private partnerships required to equip Canadians with the skills they need. The Skills Working Group will provide recommendations on how the government can better harness, replicate, and scale novel partnerships emerging between employers and post-secondary institutions; align its skills and training programs with Canadian industrial policy; and create new and improved incentives for Canadians, businesses, and the education sector to invest in skills and training.

Budget 2021 acknowledged how the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with technological advancements, the country’s ongoing energy transition, and demographic changes, have created an urgent need to upskill and reskill Canadians. Your government took significant steps towards providing Canadians with the skills they need by committing more than $5.5 billion over the next five years to skills and training. In particular, the Transition Workers to New Jobs Program, at $250 million over the next 3 years, will help growing industries by redeploying more than 15,000 workers. Our Skills Working Group is ready to inform the development and implementation of this and other important government initiatives.  

The government’s commitment to upskilling and reskilling is a win-win for workers and businesses alike. Providing access to upskilling and reskilling initiatives creates more inclusive and sustainable economies, especially for displaced and at-risk workers. They also enhance employee agency and well-being and have the potential to reduce social inequality and political polarization. At the same time, these initiatives increase employers’ access to skilled talent, helping companies launch new and innovative products, adopt productivity-enhancing technologies, and enter fast growing markets.

In early 2022, the Skills Working Group will release a detailed report setting out its advice and recommendations to the government. In the meantime, we would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss how we can work together on these shared priorities.

Thank you for your service to the country and for your commitment to a better future for Canada.

Best regards,

Valerie Walker
Chief Executive Officer,
Business + Higher Education Roundtable

Goldy Hyder
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Business Council of Canada

About the Business Higher + Education Roundtable:
The Business + Higher Education Roundtable was launched in 2015 to support the development of talent for a knowledge economy, strengthen research collaboration between industry and institutions, and help Canadian employers as they adapt to the economy of the future.

About the Business Council of Canada:
Founded in 1976, the Business Council of Canada is a not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that brings together business leaders from every region and industry. The BCC’s member companies directly and indirectly support more than six million jobs across the country, contribute the largest share of federal corporate taxes, and are responsible for most of Canada’s exports and private-sector investments in research and development.