Taken from the Toronto Star...
Ontario has an economic problem, which is leading to great social problems due to financial stress. And no amount of rhetoric from the left or the right will change this. What is required is for all stakeholders in our economy from educators, unions, investors, entrepreneurs and politicians to get together and develop practical solutions.
First step, as a service driven economy our education system needs to staffed with educators who have real world experience. This has to start in high school. Teachers should be in more intense training or job placements for the subjects they teach whether it be arts, sciences, business and technology. Our students use smartphones and the interest, they can see through BS quickly – thus our educators must be on prepared with real work knowledge.
Second, the private sector must start telling the truth about the skills shortage. I know first hand what it is like when you are unemployed and have the skills/experience for 90% of the jobs in your field. However, it seems as if many companies are posting jobs just to fill their databases with resumes. Even worse, we often see that a company will post a job, reject all candidates then within 2 months re post the same job again – and continue the cycle over and over again. We need to stop the hype about skills shortages and ensure that the the shortage is REAL. Sadly, too many Canadians are spending money on training courses only to remain unemployed. Good for training schools, bad for families.
Third, Ontario has to embrace trade more aggressively. Recently on The Agenda, there had a a great discussion about foreign markets. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Indian, China, South Africa) and MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey). Lawyer Mark Warner made the key point on the show when he stated “When entering an emerging market, businesses have to be prepared for the unexpected… it won’t be smooth, but the opportunities are there”. Companies, investors and academic thought leaders have to embrace emerging markets more aggressively. Export Development Bank of Canada can provide lots of support for companies entering these markets.
Fourth, Ontario has to start investing in the RIGHT sectors. Yes, the Auto Sector is important to the economy. However, the attitude of Ford Canada and UNIFOR towards the South Korean Free Trade Agreement is a concern. While Ford USA embraced the deal, Ford Canada did not. UNIFOR compared imports/exports of cars between Canada and South Korea as proof of this being a bad deal for Canada. The focus instead should be about how Ontario plants can 1) Attract more investment from VW, BMW, Audi etc into Canada 2) making cars that foreign markets would want.
While Ontario continues to invest money in the Auto Sector, even when they don’t want it. – The information technology, entertainment, logistics and infrastructure sectors do not get enough attention. Ontario needs to focus more funds on industries that will lead to great exports for our companies.
In Ontario, we are no longer a manufacturing hot bed. Tim Hudak has a plan however it sounds more rhetorical than practical. Premier Wynne, speaks in platitudes and Andrea Horvarth doesn’t give us much detail.
The left and the right need to stop sitting in their ideological comfort zones and start focusing on practical solutions to our economic problems. While both sides continue their rhetoric, way too many Ontario families continue to struggle. Stop the noise and start getting to work!
blog post by Radcliffe Dockery