Colleges and Institutes Canada Partnership to upskill 1,000 Canadians for jobs in key innovation sectors

Short-term upskilling opportunities are being funded by Upskill Canada as part of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Upskilling for Industry Initiative.  

TORONTO, February 29, 2024 – Supported by up to $8M in funding, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) and its members will design and deliver a suite of upskilling opportunities that will fill in-demand roles within Canada.  This programming will prepare individuals for roles in four key growth areas of Canada’s innovation economy: Biomanufacturing, AgriTech, Advanced Manufacturing, and CleanTech.  Each program developed under the initiative will be less than 16 weeks in duration and made readily available to CICan’s member institutions as open education resources.   

“Canada’s economic growth depends on a robust and adaptable workforce to seize opportunities in rapidly growing high-tech sectors around the world.”, said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Our government wants to make sure workers can gain the skills required, and we are putting employers at the forefront of the upskilling solution. That’s why we are proud to partner with Palette Skills and CICan for this upskilling initiative that will benefit both industry and Canadian workers.” 

CICan was selected as a delivery partner for this program through a competitive process led by Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills – the lead organization responsible for delivering the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) Upskilling for Industry Initiative. Since its inception, this initiative has already helped prepare thousands of workers for new careers through skills training and job placement in some of Canada’s fastest-growing industries.  

“Thanks to the support of the Canadian government and the team at ISED, Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills is working to reverse the underutilization of the Canadian workforce by upskilling workers to unlock their full potential and move them into new – and better – jobs,” said Rhonda Barnet, CEO of Palette Skills. “Our partnership with Colleges and Institutes Canadawill see upskilling opportunities delivered through its pan-Canadian  college and institute network  and will have a lasting effect beyond the 1,000 participants being funded through the UII initiative.” 

The funding for CICan was profiled at the annual e-Campus Ontario Micro-credentials forum earlier today at the Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto.  At the event Palette Skills CEO, Rhonda Barnet, spoke about the collective mission that forum participants were on to connect individuals to in-demand opportunities in Canada’s innovation economy.   

Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills, finalized its partnership with CICan earlier this month.  CICan members are deeply embedded within  their local communities and have trusted collaboration with local businesses and job seekers as a result, ultimately leading to more successful matching of skill needs, program relevance, and sustainable regional – and national – economic growth.  

“Colleges and institutes are mobilizing their expertise and partnerships to meet Canada’s biggest challenges. This initiative will benefit from their proven track record in creating innovative, flexible, and accessible programming to equip learners with the critical skills needed in high-growth innovation sectors,” said Pari Johnston, President and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada. “Given our unparalleled reach and connections with industry and community partners, we are uniquely positioned to co-create curricula that not only meet immediate skills gaps but are aligned with the long-term needs of Canada’s low-carbon economy of the future.” 

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About Upskill Canada 

Upskill Canada is a national talent platform that helps fast-growing companies access the talent they need to compete and succeed globally, while creating new career pathways for workers to rapidly transition into high-demand roles. Upskill Canada will target all regions of the country and support Canadian-based employers, with a particular focus on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It will focus on strengthening key growth sectors, including digital technology, cybersecurity, agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing, clean technology and biomanufacturing.

About Palette Skills 

Palette Skills is a national nonprofit whose purpose is to help Canada’s most innovative companies access untapped talent through industry-led rapid upskilling programs. Powered by a consortium of national business associations, leading academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations, Palette works to catalyze a network of partners to adopt new best practices in industry-led upskilling approaches. Palette Skills is hosted at the University of Toronto.  

 About Colleges and Institutes Canada 

CICan is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad.   

Katherine Belisle
Marketing Manager
Palette Skills