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North American Workforce Initiative: Strengthening the Talent Pipeline In North America

Article by Tiffany Melvin, President of North American Strategy for Competitiveness November 18, 2016 //   3 minute read

The three nations of North America enjoy a significant degree of economic integration that sustains and strengthens the global competitiveness, labor productivity, and prosperity of each nation. This economic integration facilitates the development of supply chains that open possibilities for cost control and innovation for the enterprises of the region.

However, business leaders, particularly in the manufacturing and logistics sectors, have pointed out the lack of standards for training and certification of workers that are valid at the regional level. The lack of regional standards makes supply chain management more difficult, raising production costs and reducing productivity. 

To address this skills gap and keep North America economically competitive, the George W. Bush Institute’s North America Competitiveness Working Group released a proposal this week to strengthen the talent pipelines in North America. To help implement this policy recommendation, North American Strategy for Competitiveness, Inc. (NASCO), a Working Group member, is working with the Institute on the North American Workforce Initiative.

In each of the three North American countries, there exist numerous certifications that labor and business groups are beginning to codify in cooperation with educational institutions. As a result, there exists an opportunity to promote regional cooperation among these efforts with a view toward bringing the three systems closer together and advancing toward regional standards.

This is not about labor mobility—it is about workers in each country having the education and skills necessary to find good work in their own communities. It is also about encouraging businesses to stay in North America because they know they will have the skilled labor they need to staff their businesses today and in the decades to come. Technological change has produced rapid change in the U.S. and Canada. Mexico’s economy is quickly modernizing as well. Skilled labor is needed to power the businesses in this new economic landscape.

NASCO and the Bush Institute have engaged standards-setting bodies in all three countries to identify ways to achieve more consistent quality across training and certification programs in North America. In the months to come, we will be working together to promote widespread use of a foundational career technical education curriculum and mutual recognition among North American certifying bodies.

We believe that closing the skills gap in each country is important to keeping North America as the most economically competitive region in the world. Through this Initiative, we hope to promote policies that encourage each country to help its workforce obtain the skills and education necessary to build a pipeline of labor for the jobs of tomorrow.