The North American Workforce Initiative (NAWI) has been established by North American Strategy for Competitiveness (NASCO), in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute and supported by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and Frontline Education, to focus on North American competitiveness by strengthening the workforce necessary to build strong supply chains and increase our manufacturing capabilities and capacities.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States have long partnered to compete in the global marketplace. However, the countries have different systems for recognizing skilled trades and funding, administering, and certifying training. In an integrated North America where companies operate across the three countries, this ingrained inefficiency reduces our global competitiveness. A shifting global economy has made the issue increasingly urgent as countries look to re-shore supply chains and, as a result, need to ensure that their workforces have the necessary skills.

While the three countries have different approaches to workforce development, there is an opportunity for trilateral cooperation to ensure that career and technical education (CTE) produces the requisite skills in the right places. Better collaboration and alignment across North America could create a more flexible and better prepared workforce. Specifically, such integration could lead to higher employment rates for opportunity populations, better opportunities for re-skilling, lower training costs, and a more mobile labor force created by industrial investment flows.

We have published two documents, both entitled “Bolstering North America’s Competitiveness: via a coordinated approach to workforce development”. One document is a comparative study of the workforce development systems in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The second document provides specific recommendations for the three governments’ consideration, relative to what the next steps toward a tri-national approach to workforce development might look like in moving toward a workforce development “ecosystem” in North America.

In order to lend credence to our recommendations, we are currently formulating regional Consortia to serve as “Pilot Projects”, utilizing uniform curriculum and nationally recognized industry certifications focused on the Manufacturing and Logistics Sectors.

To learn more about the pilot projects and their fundamental goals, please view the NAWI Report.