As new technology reshapes workplaces and jobs across North America, the United States, Mexico, and Canada need to reinvent the ways that they educate, train, and re-skill their workforces.  With Mexico and Canada now the United States’ two largest economic partners, more than ever the three countries need to work together to effectively and equitably manage the massive transformations ahead in the skills needed by tomorrow’s employees.

Already, employers across the continent are having difficulty filling jobs with suitable candidates: 50% of Mexican CEOs face that challenge, as do 46% and 41% of U.S. and Canadian employers respectively, a recent Manpower survey finds. Furthermore, The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs report says that CEOs surveyed expect that up to 54% of workers will require significant “reskilling” (largely for those displaced from jobs) or “up-skilling” (largely for those still employed but whose jobs are evolving) by 2022.

North America 2.0: A Workforce Development Agenda,” by the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, details challenges the three countries face in preparing their labor forces for “The Future of Work” and proposes a framework for North America to move forward in addressing these issues.

This revised and updated study considers national policies implemented by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as the workforce and apprenticeship initiatives launched by Mexico’s new President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The programs and needs in all three countries, as described in this report, highlight the need for forward-looking action. The report points to the successes that multi-stakeholder approaches at the federal and subnational levels are achieving in North America.

The Workforce Development Agenda 2.0 proposes specific initiatives focused on work-based learning, transparency of credentials earned, collection and availability of labor market data, and sharing of best practices to prepare for the technologically driven transformations ahead. Additionally, the reports discusses the opportunities for cooperation built into the new North America trade agreement, called USMCA in the United States, already ratified by Mexico, and being considered by Canada and the U.S. Congress.

The bottom line is that North America's workers and businesses will benefit greatly from pursuing an active dialogue and enhanced cooperation on workforce development issues. Such collaboration will improve the economic, social, and political well-being of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  That work should begin now.