Canadian businesses benefit through investments in technology and people
Investments in new technology must be accompanied by investments in developing a skilled workforce
April 20, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Global companies increasingly see Canada as an ideal location to invest in the development of new technologies because of its highly skilled workforce. More homegrown companies should follow their example by investing not only in the development and adoption of new technologies but also in the skills and training of their employees. That’s how Canadian businesses will remain globally competitive and create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
That was the message delivered by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, at a conference on economic growth hosted by the Public Policy Forum, an independent think tank.
In his speech, Minister Bains identified a central paradox of today’s global and digital economy: As businesses adopt increasingly more technologies to help them compete internationally, they must also invest more to develop the skills and talent of their employees and prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. That’s because, as technologies become commodities that are widely available to everyone, the only competitive edge for businesses will be the distinctive talent and creativity of their people.
Canadian businesses, compared to ones in other advanced economies, do not invest nearly enough in research, technology adoption and the digital skills of their workforce. This spending gap puts Canada at a competitive disadvantage in a global and digital economy that allows companies to source their talent, goods and services from anywhere in the world.
As part of its Innovation and Skills Plan, the Government of Canada will increase support for Canadians who upgrade their skill sets at every stage of their careers. To encourage more Canadians to pursue lifelong learning, Minister Bains urged more employers and educators to develop flexible learning and training opportunities that allow Canadians to learn on their own time and at their own pace.
“Virtually every sector of the economy is rapidly being reshaped by technology, so what we know will be out of date sooner than we think. But how we learn will set us up to manage a lifetime of constant change in a global and digital economy based on innovation. That means Canadians need to continuously expand their skill sets to take advantage of the new jobs and opportunities created by technology. The best jobs will go to those workers who are able to use technology to enhance human creativity and ingenuity, not replace them. That’s how Canadians will compete in a global and digital economy based on innovation.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Budget 2017 proposes $221 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to create 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for post-secondary students. The funding will be allocated through Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships among government, academia and industry.
Budget 2017 proposes to provide $50 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to support learning opportunities in computer coding and digital skills for school-aged children.
Follow Minister Bains on Twitter: @MinisterISED
Karl W. Sasseville
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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