G7 Employment and Innovation meeting focuses on gender parity and AI


Yesterday concluded a two-day meeting between the Employment and Innovation ministers of Canada and its Group of Seven (G7) partners. Called Preparing for Jobs of the Future, the meeting focused on how G7 countries can help workers get the skills, training and opportunities they need to succeed in a changing economy. And the biggest topics, repeated over and over throughout the two days? Gender parity and artificial intelligence.

The G7 is an informal group made up of seven of the world’s most advanced economies, and consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Council and the European Commission represent the European Union, also a member of the G7.

Co-chaired by the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development,  G7 countries met this past week to discuss how they’re seizing the opportunity of a changing economy to create the kind of growth that works for everybody. Gender equality was reiterated as another key component of a strong economy and progressive society, and members of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency also participated in the meetings.

According to estimates by RBC Economics, if women participated in Canada’s workforce at the same rate as men currently do, the size of the Canadian economy would be boosted by 4 per cent. To support gender equality, Canada’s Budget 2018 is introducing a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit that will help support an equal distribution of home and work responsibilities, and Government of Canada is so far continuing to deliver on its Innovation and Skills Plan to build an economy that works for everyone.

The federal government expanded its venture-capital funding to female-led startups last November, thanks to visibility from the Boardlist’s list of top Canadian women in tech (of which one of our WMNinTECH Magaly Charbonneau made the cut) and mounting concerns that women are underrepresented in senior roles at tech companies.

Aside from gender parity, artificial intelligence seemed to be the buzzword of the two-day meeting. Along with a statement on governments taking an active leadership role in preparing companies to be part of the digital economy, G7 Employment and Innovation ministers agreed on: a G7 Statement on AI to continue advancing towards a common vision for this transformative technology; to convene a multi-stakeholder conference on AI hosted by Canada this fall; and to launch the G7 Future of Work Forum, a digital tool that will support the work of the G7 Employment Task Force and enable Member States to share information on policies, programs and ideas.

“Helping more Canadians get the skills, training and opportunities they need to succeed will help grow our economy, strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it. When we ensure that all Canadians, including women, have a real and fair shot at success, we all thrive. Our country is stronger and more prosperous when everyone can take part in and benefit from a growing economy,” said the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

During its 2018 G7 Presidency, Canada will facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration on AI, and hold a conference with domestic partners on how to prepare for jobs of the future. Minister Hajdu also announced up to 500 new paid work placements for students in the artificial intelligence sector, with specific support designated for female students.

Canada and its G7 partners are committed to fully embracing innovation and equipping our citizens with the tools, skills, and information they need to succeed, now and for the jobs of the future. That’s why Canada has made historic investments in science, research and technology, including in areas of high-growth potential like artificial intelligence, a field in which Canada is a world leader,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Through partnerships with AI leading organizations like Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council and its partnering companies, such as Corstem based here in Montreal, the Government of Canada will be giving more post-secondary students the chance to learn in a hands-on work environment.This will help them do better in the job market when they graduate, and gives employers access to a pool of talented young people who have the skills they’re looking for, straight out of school.

“Governments have important roles to play in preparing for the jobs of the future. By continuing to share experiences and best practices, and by anticipating evolving opportunities and needs, G7 nations will ensure everyone can benefit from transformative technologies,” the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

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