Kathleen Wynne visited Windsor-Essex for the first time during her reign as premier Monday.
Wynne participated in a jobs roundtable at Centreline Limited, where she spoke with representatives of the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, the chamber of commerce and business leaders.
"I think Windsor is hugely important part of this province. Windsor is the best-kept secret in the province. We have a lot to learn across the province about manufacturing ... and the way skills are developed in this community," Wynne said.
Wynne was particularly interested in the shortage of skilled trades workers.
"How do we match the labour market with our labour force? How do we work together with the post-secondary institutions, like colleges, universities and the skilled trades organizations? How do they work with the government and private sector to provide opportunities for those who have the skills in our labour market?" Wynne said. "We talked about the things government has to do to work in partnership with all the people involved in creating jobs and training people."
Wynne praised Windsor for surviving the recession and being on the rebound.
Several high-ranking members of the local education community left impressed, including St. Clair College president John Strasser.
"It was a discussion on how manufacturing fits into post-secondary education. I was impressed," he said.
"They're going through a good consultative process. All the right questions were asked," said University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman. "It was a great chance for the premier to hear ideas and suggestions from across our region."
Wynne said there needs to be a focus on careers earlier in life.
"If we wait until young people are in Grade 12 and start thinking about those skills and exposing them to opportunities it's way too late," she said. "There's a whole broad range of jobs that kids don't have access to. We can work together and find a solution to these challenges."
Sean Moore, president and CEO of Unconquered Sun in Windsor, was a staunch Sandra Pupatello supporter during the Liberal leadership race, which Wynne.
"I even had the T-shirt," Moore said.
However, he appreciated Wynne's visit.
"It's a good signal that she actually cares about the area. She's interested in what we have to say," Moore said. "We're second to none when it comes to manufacturing."