Future Skills Centre to invest $25.9M in promising skills training projects

Guest Contributor
June 9, 2021

The Future Skills Centre, an applied research centre that tests and evaluates innovative approaches to skills development, has announced a $25.9 million investment into 10 projects dedicated to providing skills development and employment opportunities to marginalized communities.

The program, which the Centre calls "Scaling Up Skills Development," has partners including CAMH, Mohawk College and Futureworx Society, and targets sectors ranging from manufacturing to technology to tourism. The projects are designed to prepare participants for entry into an unstable job market and provide training to workers who have shifted career trajectories due to the pandemic.

“We want to make sure to address challenges and barriers facing marginalized groups, and try to provide equitable labour market opportunities,” said Tricia Williams, Research Director of Evaluation and Mobilization Strategy at the Future Skills Centre (FSC). “The pandemic hasn’t played out the same for every group. There are disproportionate barriers facing certain groups.”

The FSC had previously announced in April that it would be investing $32 million in 64 projects to retrain workers affected by the pandemic and explore applications of new technologies in sectors such as manufacturing and cleantech.

The new set of funded projects will offer skills training, job opportunities, mentorship, mental health support and career resources, with a focus on providing opportunities to youth, low-wage workers, immigrants, Indigenous and racialized communities and people facing unemployment.

The projects will run for the next two to three years, according to Williams.

Programs were chosen based on early success

Most of the projects received previous funding from the FSC in 2019 and 2020 for pilot phases. They are receiving an additional boost based on success in that first phase, including post-program employment rates, adaptability to a digital format, the ability to replicate the programs, and their relevance to the job market, employers and workers.

The success of the projects going forward will be determined using FSC’s existing evaluation strategy, which uses evidence generated from programs to analyze successes and failures. The strategy includes evaluation methods tailored to each program, Williams says.

“We’re curious about what works, for which groups, and under which conditions,” she said.

Participants will be tracked for 6-12 months after the programs end, and the results will be made available to the public. Careful evaluation of the projects allows FSC to decide which programs to fund in the future, according to Williams.

“Looking at the world post-COVID, we’re facing the prospect that we don’t just get back to normal, but create a new normal,” Williams says. “There’s this idea that we’re innovating; we’re pushing the boundaries and trying new things and seeing what works.”

“We want to make sure that not only is Canada doing well in 2021, we’re preparing for 2031 and making sure no groups are left behind.”

The following projects are receiving funding through the investment:

Project Funding Description
EDGE UP $5.5 million Provides training to oil and gas workers to prepare them for careers in the tech sector.
Material Handling 4.0: Building pathways to employment for disadvantaged groups $1.1 million Prepares new workers for jobs in material handling in the supply chain sector.
AspireAtlantic $3.59 million Provides advancement opportunities to people who are unemployed or working low-wage jobs.
InMotion & Momentum+ (IM&M+): Building resilience, hope, and sustainable futures $2.36 million A pre-employability program which provides the skills needed to prepare workers for entry into the labour market.
Upskilling Canadian youth for in-demand tech careers $2.77 million Provides training, job opportunities, and mentorship to youth.
Assessing and developing workplace employability skills with ESAT $999,510 Provides workers with emotional and social skills training, a key part of a successful workplace.
 ADaPT: Digital competencies $4.2 million Transitions post-secondary graduates into careers by providing skills training and pathway opportunities.
What works for work? Employment integration in youth service hubs across Canada $3.8 million Helps youth overcome mental health-related barriers in employment using education, training, and employment opportunities.
Tourism Hospitality Emergency Recovery (THER) $3.16 million Provides workers in the tourism industry with resources and programs that allow them to find relief programs and new jobs.
FAST: Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent $2.76 million A career preparation program for newcomers to Canada that allows them to enter the workforce as soon as they arrive.


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