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This research showed that a to hour training session showed demonstrable results when integrated into specific or technical training. In other words, by combining training on basic skills and specific skills, a framework for essential skills would improve the quality of learning in the workplace. It would then become socially viable for governments to invest in the training offered by businesses. Unfortunately, most of the provincial initiatives lost momentum, as did the federal project, which ceased to exist.

Nevertheless, many such initiatives have been undertaken in other countries with great success. Why did the Canadian attempt fail? The short answer to that complex question is a lack of federal-provincial cooperation. It would never have come to this had all governments worked with all lifelong learning stakeholders. There are financial reasons too, of course.

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The dominant culture, which views a degree as the key to decent employment, may also be partly responsible for the lack of cooperation. It is also possible that our poor performance when it comes to ongoing basic skills training might have something to do with our lack of awareness of best practices in other countries. However, I believe that the main reason we are failing on this front is that federal governments have lacked the political will to establish the right partnerships.

This bill proposes that an essential skills framework be developed in partnership with the federal and provincial governments. Within one year of the date this bill comes into force, the Minister of Employment and Social Development must convene a conference with the provincial and territorial representatives responsible for the development of current and future workforce skills in order to develop the national framework for essential skills and to define specific targets. In this process, the minister must take into account the following factors: one, the division of powers between federal, provincial and territorial authorities, including in matters of education, training, employment insurance and labour; two, the importance of stakeholder participation in essential skills development, including employers and labour representatives; three, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies; and finally, the specific needs of the various regions and communities, including Indigenous communities in relation to the development of essential workforce skills.

If passed, this bill will bring Canada back in line with other countries in building a solid infrastructure for developing the essential skills of today and tomorrow. This bill draws on the experience of the European Union and Australia, which have a long history of investing in essential skills development. The first version of the Australian Core Skills Framework was introduced and developed with the industry in It was revised in Australian governments came together and introduced a national strategy to lift the skills of all Australians so they are prepared to face actual and future challenges.


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Signed by all governments in , it proposed concrete targets such that two thirds of Australians would attain level 3 for literacy in In , the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted a recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning. Last May, the European Union revised the framework to factor in the new realities of the 21st century. Skills requirements are changing with the realities of the fourth Industrial Revolution, while technologies are playing a bigger role in every aspect of life. For those reasons, the new European reference framework now includes eight key competences.

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I will read them to you so that we can compare them to the old essential skills adopted in Canada in The eight competences are: literary competence; multilingual competence; mathematical competence and competence in science, technology, and engineering; digital competence; personal, social and learning to learn competence; citizenship competence; entrepreneurship competence; and cultural awareness and expression competence. This learning will also have to be suitably evaluated and certified.

If the members of the European Union and the Australian government could work it out, why not us?

There is no time to lose. We need to figure out the steps we can take to adapt to the labour market disruptions that will be caused by the rise of artificial intelligence and the shift to a greener, more diversified economy, as shown by the GM plant closures announced this week in the auto sector. Before I wrap up my speech, I would like to say a few words about how people can acquire basic skills. These skills can be taught to young people as part of their basic schooling. Several provinces are working on incorporating these skills into their curricula.

Through the Council of Ministers of Education, the provinces are working together to share their experiences with global competencies. Adults can also take a formal or informal approach to acquiring these skills, but for working adults, the workplace is the best place to perfect their basic skills. Unfortunately, workplace-based learning is not very advanced, as I said. Apart from trades regulated by the Red Seal program, workplace learning is anemic. To meet this challenge, it is absolutely crucial to have a framework for essential skills that can be combined with specific training.

More investments in workplace training are also needed, since that would lead to qualifications and transferable skills. This would help many people enter the labour market, including youth, immigrants and First Nations people. Under those circumstances, investing would be economically and financially advantageous to governments.

Everybody would win: the worker, the business and society. The bill fits in with the global trend of continuing education for adults and addresses several concerns deemed to be urgent by various economic and technical and applied training groups. It also reflects the recommendations of Colleges and Institutes Canada, which recommended at its leaders forum that the quality of practices for developing literacy and essential skills be enhanced by adopting a framework that defines what employers and individuals are entitled to expect in terms of essential skills improvement and that can be used to measure performance.

This bill is also consistent with the recommendations of the RBC report entitled Humans Wanted: How Canadian Youth Can Thrive in the Age of Disruption , such as the need for standardized labour market information across all provinces and regions and the introduction of a national initiative to help employers measure foundational skills and incorporate them in recruiting, hiring and training practices. This bill follows up on the recommendations that the OECD made in its Skills for a Digital World report and in a number of other reports.

Colleagues, I urge you to quickly pass this bill at second reading so that it can be sent to committee for an in-depth study.

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Canada needs an essential skills framework developed through a federal-provincial partnership in order to make the most of existing private and public investment in continuing education. It is also an important piece of the puzzle to stimulate economic diversification in all regions across Canada and to help all Canadians meet the challenges of the 21st century. Ghislain Maltais: Senator Bellemare, I felt like I was listening to the same line of discourse we have been hearing for over 20 years now in Canada and especially in Quebec.

You talked about creating a skilled workforce. There are 2, skilled workers in the aerospace industry that were just unceremoniously laid off from Bombardier.

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Businesses are looking for skilled workers. If the federal government decides to invest with businesses in workforce training, that is an excellent idea. However, it needs to say how much it wants to invest. We should be consulting them. I get very concerned when a bank produces a labour market report, because a bank is motivated by making money, nothing else. However, the businesses that the banks are financing do care about training their workers. You are the economist, not me. It is high time for governments, by which I mean both the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments, to sit down with businesses and find out what they need.

You gave the example of the European Community. The situation in both France and Belgium is a disaster. In Italy, job training is like a volcano erupting. Workers are out in the streets because there is no industry. However, the European model cannot be applied here. Canada is too big.

The needs of British Columbia are not the same as those of Newfoundland.

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The needs of the agricultural industry in Alberta and Manitoba are not the same as in Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes. Who better to train a farmer than another farmer?

A university professor is not going to be able to train a farmer. Another farmer needs to do it. Training needs to come from employers.

Your bill is all well and good, but it is not realistic. We need to take another approach to this issue. In Canada, new technology is leaving companies in the dust. We are behind the times. We need to catch up, and that starts with people on the ground. If you refer this bill to a committee, I hope big and small businesses, farmers and ranchers will have the chance to share their opinions.

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P. Motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Omidvar agreed to. Are honourable senators ready for the question? Motion agreed to and report, as amended, adopted. That the Senate call upon the government of Canada:. Senator Plett: Question. Senator Martin: Question. Senator Martin: Dispense.

Senators: Yes. Senators: No. Senator Bellemare: Could you ask again, Your Honour? We could not hear. Is the motion adopted or stood? Is the question to be asked? The question is to be asked? The motion is defeated. Are you standing up, two of you, to ask for a vote?

Senator Martin: Sorry, we are a bit confused.