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Talents above all

The globalization of value chains, the rapid growth of emerging nations along with technological advances have had a profound effect on the economies of developed nations in the last few years. The final plenary session of the Montréal Conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, entitled “Innovation and a New Economic Cycle: Towards a New Manufacturing Era” took a look at these changes. The various speakers came to the conclusion that the key to success for developed economies in this new global economy is to capitalize on a competent and educated workforce.

Moderator Diane Brady, Senior Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, set the tone for the presentation by asking the four speakers what the policy-makers of industrialized nations should do to ensure a prosperous economy in the new manufacturing era. They unanimously responded that it is crucial to contribute to a climate promoting talents development.

For example, Christopher Viehbacher, Sanofi CEO, explained that whenever his company is expanding, they first “look at where the talents are”. He added that in order to foster good talents, you need a good basic education system and top-notch universities that allow specialization.

On this matter, Greater Montréal was named best student city in Canada, garnered second place in North America and tenth place in the world in the most recent QS Best Student Cities rankings. With more than 170,000 students and over 40,000 university graduates each year, the Montréal region is the university leader in Canada.

Québec (data are not available for Greater Montréal) also did extremely well in the last PISA study by the OECD, which assesses the level of education for 15-year-old students across 34 countries. The province ranked first in Canada and second for mathematics in the Western World and it ranked first among French-speaking regions, for all categories.

Internationally renowned conference

Held from June 10 to 13, the theme of the Montréal Conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas was “A New Economic Cycle: New Realities, New Frontiers.” This year was the 19th edition of the annual meeting.

The Montréal Conference aims at fostering international discussion and business opportunities to develop knowledge on major economic globalization issues by highlighting the relationships between the Americas and various continents.

As in previous years, several of the most influential leaders in the world got together at the conference to discuss the issues of today and tomorrow. Among them was David Walker, Chairman of Barclays; R. Jeffrey Orr, President and CEO of Power Financial Corporation; Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Carlos da Silva Costa, Governor of Banco de Portugal; Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution; Michel Brunet, Chair of Dentons Canada LLP; Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President; Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of GDF Suez; Khudier Alkhuzaue, Vice-President of Iraq; Christopher Viehbacher, Sanofi CEO; Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director at Mckinsey & Company.

Francis Langlois, Analyst, Economic Research Division

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