Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan photo collage

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada’s Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan (ASAP) is a long-term strategy that will facilitate the integration of Atlantic Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, including the construction of the Royal Canadian Navy’s combat vessels by Irving Shipbuilding Inc. of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Action Plan will evolve as necessary to ensure it continues to address the ongoing needs of SMEs in Atlantic Canada and their requirement for skilled workers. It will require a close collaboration with all four Atlantic provincial governments, Atlantic SMEs, industry associations, prime contractors, economic development organizations, educational and research institutes, and other federal departments.

The Action Plan is designed to:

1. Inform small and medium-sized enterprises about the business opportunities

One of the Action Plan’s key objectives is to ensure that Atlantic Canadian SMEs are fully informed of the process and requirements for accessing work.

Many companies in Atlantic Canada may not be aware they can take advantage of this opportunity, or may perceive they are too young or too small to be involved. These procurements are a unique opportunity to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs in all four Atlantic provinces, to acquire the expertise to compete on the world scene.

The Action Plan includes:

  • Engaging with business associations to build awareness among Atlantic businesses of the opportunities for accessing work;
  • Working with SMEs to help identify needs;
  • Conducting research and analysis to broaden understanding of the global marine supply chain and supplier requirements, including certification;
  • Holding supplier development sessions in every Atlantic province;
  • Holding an Atlantic Marine Industry Forum; and
  • Showcasing, on an ongoing basis, Atlantic businesses to industry through industry tours, information sessions and networking events.

2. Ensure access to Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency programs

To help maximize the benefits for the Atlantic region, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will use its flexible suite of tools and programming to proactively support the development of SMEs to help them capitalize on economic development opportunities related to the shipbuilding procurements.

Programs such as the Atlantic Innovation Fund, the Business Development Program, the International Business Development Agreement, the Innovative Communities Fund and the Community Futures Program (Community Business Development Corporations) can facilitate, among other activities:

  • Investing in business modernizations and expansions;
  • Enhancing business and worker skills;
  • Improving business productivity through the adoption of existing technologies;
  • Commercializing new technologies;
  • Acquiring the necessary business certifications;
  • Developing international business relationships;
  • Supporting communities in developing sector strategies aimed at attracting and expanding businesses at the local level; and
  • Providing financing and business counselling to SMEs in rural areas, better positioning them to benefit from potential shipbuilding procurement opportunities.

3. Develop a skilled labour force

The Action Plan also aims to engage the four Atlantic provincial governments, universities and community colleges in developing skills and labour force planning and research.

Atlantic Canada is home to an extensive network of world-class universities and community colleges that have proven instrumental in working with industry to ensure that required education and training is locally available. In some cases, companies work directly with community colleges to design courses. As well, since this is a 20- to 30-year strategy, ACOA will want to work with its partners in addressing labour supply issues, gaps and trends.

4. Organize and deliver supplier development information sessions and participate in industry events

Since the launch of the Action Plan in February 2012, ACOA has worked with its public and private sector partners to deliver initiatives designed to encourage supplier development and provide opportunities for SMEs to engage with key stakeholders and promote their products, services and capabilities.

To date, these initiatives have included supplier development information sessions, marine and defence industry days, an innovation showcase and a trade mission to Exponaval. Additionally, an Atlantic Marine and Defence Industry Forum was held to provide an opportunity for key industry leaders, government stakeholders and academic and research institutions to discuss ways to encourage collaboration between the private and public sectors to maximize opportunities associated with the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, and to help foster growth within Atlantic Canada’s marine and defence sector.

More information on each of these activities is available on the previous events/initiatives page.

Going forward, ACOA will continue to work with its partners to organize activities that will provide further opportunities for Atlantic SMEs to promote themselves to key industry stakeholders and position themselves within shipbuilding supply chains.