Ryerson University is now the lead partner in Ontario’s new Centre for Workforce Innovation (OCWI), a centre aiming to improve the provincial economy.
The centre will support employers and stakeholders by creating a community for sharing “evidence based best practices,” according to the OCWI website. It will also help workers find and secure employment by helping them develop the essential skills that employers seek.
The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will fund the initiative with a $7.5-million grant over two years. Wendy Cukier, the vice-president of research and innovation at Ryerson University and chair of the OCWI working group, said the grant will position Ryerson and the other 11 partner organizations as leaders in social innovation.
“The research and demonstration project funds will be distributed through a competitive process but it may provide opportunities for Ryerson faculty and students to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of the projects,” she said.
Interim president and vice-chancellor, Mohamed Lachemi, said Ryerson is delighted to host the OCWI as the school has had several past collaborative successes with innovative career-driven projects, such as Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ).
“Ryerson has a strong track record for applied research to meet societal needs, for developing career-oriented education to meet the needs of employers and for developing innovative solutions to challenges facing society,” he said.
The OCWI has already begun working through other partner organizations, which are currently participating in startup-phase projects, such as researching practices and connecting with organizations across Ontario.
The centre will also work on a four-part plan that involves establishing workers’ skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, improving business environments and creating a secure retirement savings plan.
Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Allan O’Dette, said the OCWI will bridge gaps between employers’ needs and the services offered to Ontarians, as research shows that almost one-third of small Ontario businesses do not have the talent they need.
“Our collective focus must be to establish greater connections between graduates and employers and ensure Ontario has the skilled workforce it needs to compete in the global economy,” he said in a press release.
While a physical location for the centre has not yet been chosen, interconnected hubs are being developed in Toronto, Thunder Bay, London and Kingston/Gananoque as well as a francophone hub in Sudbury. The regional hubs will work together to establish more effective community practices.