National Workforce Strategy – Reactions

At the end of May, the Quebec government presented its 2018-2023 National Workforce Strategy (NWS): 47 assorted measures with a budget envelope of $1.3 billion over 5 years. How has it been received by the province’s main organizations and associations? 

Employers associations and unions were able to reiterate the urgency of taking action and as a whole reacted favourably to the government initiative. They particularly welcomed the first fruits of the social dialogue begun since the National Workforce Rendez-Vous in February 2017.

However, the main players are awaiting implementation of the measures announced. Daniel Boyer, president of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), declared that if “the government has a chance to succeed,” he hopes that “the announcement is not just a public relations exercise.” The same wish was expressed by Stéphane Forget, president and CEO of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ): “Concrete actions are needed, delivered with conviction and firmness, otherwise Quebec is inevitably moving towards lower growth.”

A need for local solutions

The FCCQ and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) believe that these initiatives, as innovative as they are, must respond to the challenges of the regional labour market. “A part of the success of the NWS will be based on its regional deployment, to meet the specific needs of each of Quebec’s regions,” believes François Lehouillier, president of the Nouvelle-Beauce Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

But the attraction and retention of skilled labour in outlying areas is not a new problem. Nadia Minassian, prefect of the MRC du Rocher-Percé, regrets that the NWS is arriving late, “in reaction”, and now wants “solutions that are really suited to the needs of the region’s businesses.”

Betting on youth

The NWS considers addressing labour shortages by massive integration of young people under the age of 35 into the workforce by 2023. These would allow more than one-half of the 1.3 million positions to be filled within 10 years.

At the announcement of this objective, Serge Duclos, president of the Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi du Québec (RCJEQ) reiterated the priority to reduce “a very concerning unemployment rate among young people.” Last April, it stood at 9.6%, 4.2 points more than that of the labour force.

For its part, the Fédération des Cégéps expressed satisfaction with the measures that enhance qualifying training offered at the college level, including the goal of graduating more nursing students, “through an analysis of relevant skills required and a review of college and university programs.” 

To know more about the 2018-2023 National Workforce Strategy (french).

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