Blog Post

Future Skills Centre: shock-proofing the future of work

By: Marco Campana
April 27, 2021

The Future Skills Centre has funded 64 innovation projects which explore ways evolving or emerging sectors and technologies can support workers displaced from socio-economic shocks as well as strengthening the economy of tomorrow.

Among those projects are a number that focus on immigrant and refugee-serving organizations, or newcomers.

Virtual services for career practitioners
This research project undertakes a needs assessment of career practitioners and their capacity to offer online services to vulnerable groups during the pandemic. Career transition is high, and those who previously had one career may now seek to switch careers and access upskilling and career development expertise. Career development professionals (practitioners) have responded by transitioning their in-person services to virtual delivery. Although some have thrived in this new virtual environment, some have struggled and may lack adequate competencies to provide services. The project will collect information about existing career practitioner competencies, identify skills gaps, and put forward recommendations for upskilling practitioners and the clients they serve, focusing on those from underrepresented populations.

Language learning for young newcomers
This project seeks to provide post-admission support for English as an Additional Language (EAL) diploma students who are pursuing skilled jobs in BC and across the country. Through language supports that are specific to the participants’ discipline, language assessment, and hands-on practical experience, the project aims to create innovative content and language integrated curricula, develop language assessment tools, and build relationships with industry sponsors to provide authentic job application and interviewing experience. The focus will be supporting young newcomers and international students enrolled in intensive, two-year diploma programs. Many of these students enter diploma programs seeking technical and other highly skilled careers, but some students risk failing or dropping out because of the rigours of post-secondary study in English. Others may prevail through their studies yet struggle to land a job in their desired profession due to lack of job application experience or low English communication skills. Although some students persevere through their studies, they graduate only to be met with barriers during their first job applications and interviews. This project seeks to reduce these barriers through language skill and confidence building learning options.

Resilient newcomer women in Northwestern Ontario
This research partnership aims to build knowledge and provide recommendations for skills innovation, recovery, and new ways forward for newcomer women in the face of economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Lakehead University in Thunder Bay — in partnership with immigration and economic experts — this project addresses the desperate needs of the hardest hit population, in one of the hardest hit regions, who work in some of the most demanding sectors in Canada. By examining both the rural and urban effects of COVID-19 on newcomer women, this project will produce meaningful results that can be applied across the country. This project aims to identify opportunities and barriers to full labour participation by newcomer women in the wake of COVID-19.

Alberta digital employment training
This project will transform employment programming from in-person to online delivery for the 54 member agencies of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA).The goal is to boost the employability of newcomers to Alberta, thereby addressing unemployment within this demographic as well as supporting Alberta’s labour needs.
This project aims to increase the quality and access of existing employment programming for newcomers throughout the province. The member agencies of AAISA will submit programming content that they can no longer deliver in person and AAISA will supply fully virtual, online versions of the content in return.

Services to social impact
This initiative will address the unique needs facing Canadian women aged 20-24 as a result of COVID-19. The G(irls)20’s Services to Social Impact Project will work with young women transitioning out of the services sector and into social entrepreneurship, by equipping them with social, emotional and entrepreneurship skills to launch social impact businesses, such as training girls to code and launching a diversity consulting business, and through one-to-one coaching. By developing social enterprises, young women will be able to take control over their careers and offer productive, impactful businesses to the Canadian economy.

Newcomer inclusion in Quebec small to medium enterprises
This project will investigate the manufacturing sector to identify and improve the experience of onboarding immigrants in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) outside of large gateway cities. These manufacturing SMEs in smaller communities are experiencing a worker shortage, particularly in non-gateway locations. This shortage has been exacerbated by the pandemic even as a large pool of immigrant workers is available but under-utilized. Research shows that workplace onboarding, new employee recruitment, hiring and skills development programs play crucial roles and improve organizations’ abilities to attract and retain new employees.

Newfoundland newcomer employment resilience network
Highly trained newcomers to Canada with work experience in professions such as IT, research, oil and gas, or finance will benefit from this network. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the labour market for these newcomers in the above regulated/non-regulated professions. The Newcomer Employment Resilience Network NL (NERNNL) network will provide employment support and engage stakeholders, professional organizations, regulators, employers, and training providers to maximize newcomers’ existing skills while developing the resilience sought by employers today and in the future. The network will foster collaboration and knowledge exchange across all 3 levels of the skills ecosystem (individual, organizational, systemic) to improve career pathways and foster new insights for immigrant professionals.

REAL school
This learning program aligns Black, Indigenous and racialized youth with careers based on their interests, personality traits, and skill sets. This initiative is a 54-session, project-based program called Reality, Education, Applied, Life Skills (R.E.A.L.) School. It is led by Urban Rez Solutions Social Enterprise. The program deploys popular culture as an accessible entry point for youth to discover careers that align with their interests. The curriculum improves social functioning and promotes prosocial behaviours as a factor of career preparedness. It is designed to promote youth potential, develop realistic career goals, and hone skills transferable to the job market.

ELITE program for Black youth
This project provides Black youth aged 15 to 22 years old with access to hands-on learning and paid work-integrated training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and entrepreneurship.
The program, previously known as the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Skills Development Initiative for Black Youth in Alberta, has been merged into the Experiential Learning in Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (ELITE) Program for Black Youth. Participants are placed at, and work with, university research, industry, and government partners in technology and innovation ecosystems. The project is holistic, and includes work-integrated training, entrepreneurship learning, and wellness coaching. The project is a practical solution to enable Black Youth to develop hands-on skills that will be immediately transferable to in-demand technologies, including robotics, automation, advanced manufacturing, and tissue engineering. This will be achieved by assembling teachers, engineers, scientists, and technologists at the University of Alberta, InnoTech Alberta, and industry partners to provide work-integrated training in real projects and on relevant equipment.

FSC has organized funded projects into various themes. You can find a list of projects categorized as Advancing Inclusion on their site.

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