The federal ministers of finance and employment and labour were at Ryerson Thursday morning to announce the creation of a new skills development centre.
Bill Morneau and Patty Hajdu spoke at the FCAD Catalyst in the Rogers Communications Centre Feb. 14 to announce the Future Skills Centre, a partnership between the Liberal government, The Conference Board of Canada and Blueprint ADE.
According to research from the Brookfield Institute, 40 per cent of jobs in the Canadian economy will be impacted by artificial intelligence over the next two decades.
“We’ll see particularly difficult things with some of the more precarious jobs we have disappearing,” Morneau said. “We need to prepare for that future.”
The Future Skills Centre will provide funding for projects across the country that develop and test new approaches to skills development.
The event included an introduction from Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi, short addresses from Morneau and Hajdu and a panel with Gladys Okine, executive director of First Work Ontario, and Lawrence Daniels, CEO of FireSpirit.
Daniels, whose company works to build human resources and provide employment services to Aboriginal and northern communities, said the Future Skills Centre will be able to expand the conversation about job growth in rural communities.
“If we can find a way to bridge that [gap], we’ll be changing the context of what Canada means to Indigenous people,” Daniels said. “When we talk about future skills, we’re really talking about empowering our families and the ability for us to work together.”
Daniels is also part of the Future Skills Council announced by the ministers, made up of 15 people across private, public and non-profit sectors. The council will be in correspondence with Hajdu on new skills and workforce trends, including national and regional issues.
Hajdu said that “there’s freedom that allows people to innovate” at Ryerson. “It’s all about inquiry and learning how to do new things here,” Hajdu said. “An important component of the Future Skills Centre is the flexibility and ability to change as we discover different models that are working.”
Hajdu stressed that the Future Skills Centre aims to be a pan-Canadian network, focusing on job skill development not just in big cities like Toronto but also in northern, rural and Indigenous communities across the country.
In response to a question from the Ryersonian following the event, Hajdu said the ministers “expect things to move quickly” with the centre getting established and beginning work.