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Future Skills Centre joins with Atlantic Canada partners to enhance skills training

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Nov 23, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton

Shawni Beaulieu (left) and Amanda Hachey from NouLAB at UNB

The Future Skills Centre (FSC) has announced a $4.3-million investment into two new partnerships in Atlantic Canada that will advance the region’s skills development agenda.

College Transformation des Collèges, a project of Atlantic Colleges Atlantique (ACA), will receive $3.45 million to generate evidence on skills gaps in priority sectors that the college system needs to address; and Early Childhood Education Lab, a project of NouLAB at the University of New Brunswick, will receive $900,000 to evaluate and enhance the application of training that early childhood educators receive or seek to receive.

“These initiatives embody a key element of FSC’s strategic vision: effecting change at both the grassroots and systemic levels,” said Pedro Barata, executive director of FSC. “By focusing on challenges that exist at the level of a single profession and at a wider level in our educational systems, respectively, the projects are primed to deliver findings that we hope can be applied to other entities both within and beyond Atlantic Canada.”

“We know that the very early years of a child’s life are instrumental in their development and in honing the skills they’ll need to thrive as adults,” said Shawni Beaulieu, Co-lead of the ECE Lab. “We also know that COVID is stressing an already stressed workforce who are providing essential services to children and their families. What we are going to do in this lab is build on the vast amount of research that already exists on this subject and work with the educators and operators to develop solutions that work for them. What we know about working in social innovation is that change happens at the speed of trust and it’s been a gratifying experience to work with an organization like FSC who understands that.”

“The College Transformation des Collèges pilot projects focus on specific labour shortages in early childhood education, information and communications technology, aquaculture, health, and translation and interpretation services. Atlantic Colleges Atlantique will establish a virtual innovation centre to coordinate the projects’ activities and foster collaboration, and to maximize regional learning and growth,” said Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald, President of Holland College, and current chair of ACA. “By increasing access to postsecondary education and ensuring greater coordination among colleges, the Atlantic region will be able to effectively address these challenges with a unified approach.”

Funding for the projects was provided under the umbrella of FSC’s Strategic Initiatives portfolio. In addition to inviting applications for funding through publicly issued calls, the Centre also seeks out promising projects that advance its mandate by meeting specific strategic needs. The current projects constitute the first Strategic Initiatives announced by FSC, and will join other funded projects already underway to strengthen the skills development ecosystem in the Atlantic region.

“The Atlantic Workforce Partnership is proud to support these two innovative projects, which align with the ongoing efforts of the Atlantic provinces to ensure the region’s workforce has the training and skills to meet current and future labour needs,” added the Honourable Minister Gerry Byrne, Lead Minister for the Atlantic Workforce Partnership. “These diverse approaches to training through the College Transformation des Collèges and the Early Childhood Education Lab will help address the unique economic development challenges and opportunities in Atlantic Canada.”

In addition to promoting regional coordination in skills development, FSC selects partners undertaking work that can be scaled and applied across Canada. It views these two projects as promising initiatives whose findings may help other parts of the country address the changing skills needs of the Canadian economy in the future. Learnings from the projects will be gleaned over several stages, with final results (from the ACA project) anticipated by the fall of 2023.

About FSC

Future Skills Centre is a forward-thinking research and collaboration hub dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success and meeting the emerging talent needs of employers. As a pan-Canadian community, FSC brings together experts and organizations across sectors to rigorously identify, assess, and share innovative approaches to develop the skills needed to drive prosperity and inclusion. FSC is directly involved in innovation through investments in pilot projects and academic research on the future of work and skills in Canada. The Future Skills Centre is funded by the Government of Canada's Future Skills program.

About Atlantic Colleges Atlantique

Formed in 2018, ACA is the association of the seven public institutions delivering full college programming in Atlantic Canada. Member institutions are: College of the North Atlantic; Holland College; Collège de l’île; Nova Scotia Community College; Université Sainte-Anne; New Brunswick Community College; and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick. Combined, ACA members have over 40 campuses, many in rural communities, and train over 60,000 full and part-time students annually. The institutions directly contribute $500 million in payroll and day-to-day spending to the region’s economy.

The College Transformation des Collèges project has an overall budget of $4.3 million, with the Future Skills Centre contributing $3.45 million and member colleges contributing $850,000 in funding and in-kind services. The project consists of seven pilot projects—one in each college—and will be completed by September 2023. The project pairs human-centered design research with practical applications, with a focus on testing high-impact innovations that can transform the college system. It will also focus on equity-seeking groups.

About NouLAB

NouLAB is a program of the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick and convenes the curious to co-create solutions to address our most pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. By connecting people from across sectors, convening them around pressing issues, and facilitating their journey to deep change, NouLAB makes the change process more impactful. Designed to address challenges that affect many and which no single party or institution can solve alone, NouLAB exists to be a trusted and neutral convener of the change process for impactful systems change.

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Photo: Shawni Beaulieu (left) and Amanda Hachey from NouLAB at UNB.