Montreal – An innovative Quebec-based approach to engaging employers in skills development could offer valuable lessons for the rest of Canada, as businesses grapple with major labour and skills shortages. New research from the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) by Yves Blanchet examines a policy instrument called “training mutuals,” which have been in place in Quebec since the early 2000s. A training mutual can reduce barriers to investing in training by allowing companies to pool their resources and combine their training needs to benefit from economies of scale. It also allows its members to access crucial financial and organizational resources, which would otherwise be unavailable to individual companies.
“One of the foundations of Quebec’s skills-development system is the idea that organizations which serve as liaison between the government, community, businesses, and training providers are best equipped to bring together relevant stakeholders, harness a range of resources and meet businesses’ training needs. But to really see the benefits of this type of policy instrument, we need to understand what contributes to the success of some training mutuals, and learn from the failure of others,” says Blanchet.
Looking at the trajectories of four training mutuals in operation between 2008 and 2017, Blanchet finds that they are most likely to work well when two key elements are in place:
To ensure this model will truly benefit both employers and employees, Blanchet believes that data on the mutuals’ performance — particularly the benefits in terms of productivity gains, higher salaries, and better job retention — should be collected. He also notes that it’s important to understand what motivates companies to participate or not to participate in the training mutuals.
“If the right conditions are met, training mutuals could make a significant contribution to skills development in various sectors of activity in the country and meet the pressing needs of small and medium businesses, and low-skilled workers,” said Blanchet.
Training Mutuals in Quebec: A Model to Be Strengthened or Emulated? by Yves Blanchet can be downloaded from the IRPP’s website (irpp.org).
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