Kathy Knight, CEO of ICTAM, was on the go this past February. Earlier in the month, she travelled to Washington DC with CompTIA, the world's leading tech association, and TECNA (Technology Councils of North America) for their annual DC Fly-In. The DC Fly-In is an opportunity for our US counterparts to meet with their congressional leaders on issues affecting the tech industry. This year, the program added a Canadian component which included valuable meetings with US Government Representatives involved in NAFTA negotiations as well as senior bureaucrats at the Canadian Embassy.
CompTIA and TECNA US delegates stress NAFTA should be modernized and remain a tri-lateral agreement. They identified their priority negotiating objectives as market access, customs and trade facilitation, rules of origin, digital trade, government procurement and intellectual property. The conference portion of the Fly-in featured topical discussions on blockchain and bitcoin, broadband access and, of course, access to talent. Canadian and US tech industry leaders have much in common and all agree that President Trump’s threats to withdraw from NAFTA loom large in negotiations.
Of particular interest to ICTAM members, is CompTIA’s recommendation to use market-based caps on H1B Visas to adjust to the supply and demand in the US economy. We all recognize the importance of labor mobility between our two countries however this is where a number of sticking points are arising. Stay tuned…
It was apparent we share similar views on the importance of growing the talent pipeline, however the approach south of the border has some differences. Currently the major advocacy push by our US colleagues is in championing apprenticeships. It is seen as a means to allow IT companies to directly hire and train the workers they need while ensuring that participants have the specifics skills employers are looking for upon completion. It is being well supported by both Republicans and Democrats alike. In Manitoba, we’re actively seeking support for alternative education models that include industry-led, work-based learning to fill current and future ICT positions and spur economic growth.