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October 1, 2018

Two students in Lethbridge College’s Wind Turbine Technician program get hands-on experience by working on the engine of a real turbine. Photo: Lethbridge College.

Reskilling and upskilling for the changing nature of work

Had we thought ten years ago that it might be possible to have a pizza delivered to our home by drone, we may have laughed it off as science fiction. Yet, in today’s reality, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly more commonplace and a very real element of Canada’s workforce. These technologies are changing the world of work and what employable skills may look like in the very near future.

However, in speculating, we sometimes forget that change – whether technological or ideological – is inevitable, necessary, and productive. Canadian innovation has come so far; now, we need to adapt our skills to match.

For colleges and institutes, adaptability means embracing a culture of lifelong learning and providing a place for learners to update their skills and keep up with labour-market changes. In fact, according to the 2013 National Graduate Survey, 47% of all Canadian college and institute students have previously attended a postsecondary institution, and 35% already hold one degree or diploma. Whether the decision to return to school is personal, in response to shifting priorities, or a result of disruptive technologies, reskilling at one of Canada’s colleges and institutes provides graduates with advanced skills for forward-looking careers. For example:

  • Lethbridge College’s Wind Turbine Technician program has seen increasing enrollment numbers as electricians laid off due to the downturn in Canada’s oil and gas sector look to quickly upgrade and redirect their skills to the benefit of alternative energy sources.
  • Sheridan College has partnered with Amazon to offer skills training for Amazon employees in areas relevant in today’s market and with high potential for future demand.
  • Both Seneca College and Bow Valley College have teamed up with IBM on the IBM Skills Academy initiative, which offers programs to equip students with in-demand skills to meet the changing needs of the IT sector.
  • Colleges and institutes have been among the first institutions to respond to the need for skilled workers in the cannabis industry, with Niagara College, Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB), Kwantlen Polytechnic, College of the Rockies, Olds College, Durham College, and Loyalist College now offering cannabis-related training.
  • The Cégep de Saint-Laurent offers dozens of short-term professional development programs in areas like architecture and construction management, water treatment and filtration, IT systems, and health.

In the future, we can expect to see more learners seeking out upskilling and reskilling options as their jobs and industries change and evolve and new sectors of the economy emerge.

In its submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA), CICan recommended developing a national skills and lifelong learning strategy for working Canadians and employers to deal with disruption and capitalize on new opportunities. Given their expertise and core mandate, colleges and institute will play a lead role in designing and implementing the infrastructure required.

While it is difficult to predict the adjustments that will be required, a skills training infrastructure that creates a culture of lifelong learning is needed to ensure the adaptability and resilience that Canadians need to weather uncertainty. Read CICan’s full submission and recommendations here.

With this in mind, the future of work is not as bleak as it may seem – we will not all lose our jobs to robots – but rather will look markedly different from what we know today. Canada’s constantly evolving colleges and institutes can help students, employers, entrepreneurs, and innovators navigate the landscape of tomorrow’s workplace. We hope to continue to see Canadians turning to colleges and institutes in greater numbers for future skills training – institutions where adapting is not by necessity but by virtue.

Join one of CICan’s 2018-2019 Awards of Excellence Selection Committees!

Share your expertise while helping CICan recognize excellence in your institutions by joining one of eight Awards of Excellence Selection Committees.

The Awards showcase the extraordinary contributions of individuals to their communities and highlight the role of colleges and institutes in Canada’s social, cultural and economic development. Each nomination is reviewed by an independent selection committee with representation from across CICan’s membership.

Those interested in participating should submit their names before October 8, 2018.

Please note that translation services will be provided, but selection committee members with the capacity to evaluate nominations in both official languages will be given preference. Please contact Bruce Landry with any questions, at or 613-746-5916.

To participate, click here.

View the program: Indigenous Education Symposium

CICan’s 10th National Indigenous Education Symposium in Wendake, QC is quickly approaching, and the event program is now live! This year’s event will highlight the role of colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics in working towards reconciliation.

Sessions will tackle topics such as increasing understanding of reciprocity among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, strengthening pathways to education and employment, and supporting Indigenous student success with wrap-around services. Click here to view the full program.

There is still time to register – don’t miss this event!

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that the Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) recently received nearly $5 million in federal funding to support a new innovative project? The Mshiigaade Miikan (“The Path is Clearing”) will partner KTEI with the Union of Ontario Indians and Sault College to increase employability for Indigenous people in skilled trades, hospitality, tourism and teacher education using an innovative approach that reconceptualises teaching from an Indigenous worldview. To read more about the program, click here.


The Cégep de Sainte-Foy was pleased to welcome Jasmine Gauthier as the cégep’s new Director General effective Oct 1. Gauthier comes from close to 25 years of varied experience at the Cégep de Jonquière.

Mohawk College was pleased to welcome two new Deans. Cebert Adamson will take on the role of Dean, Continuing Education, Academic Quality and Centre for Teaching & Learning, while Kurt Muller recently took on the role of Dean, McKeil School of Business, Media and Entertainment.


Imagine the Future

Take the Imagine the Future online quiz to share your thoughts on CICan’s new Strategic Plan.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.