Innovation Projects

FSC-CCF invests in projects which test innovative approaches to help Canadians gain access to new skills and contribute to a growing evidence base on the skills needed to thrive in the new economy.

Employment and Social Development Canada’s original call for proposals to establish the Future Skills Centre encouraged proponents to identify an initial suite of ready-to-launch projects. The consortium partners identified 12 projects through targeted stakeholder engagement. Six projects were eventually selected following an adjudication process by the FSC-CCF interim project sub-committee. The adjudication was based on an established set of evaluation criteria, including:

FSC-CCF has committed $11.58M in funding over two years for the six inaugural innovation projects. Below is an overview of the projects.


“Indigenous ICT Development Centre” with ID Fusion and FireSpirit

Exploring approaches to build awareness and capacity in the information and communications technology sector for Indigenous youth and underemployed communities

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Canada. Though demand for talent is high, Indigenous people are extremely underrepresented in ICT occupations.

The Future Skills Centre will invest $670K in a 16-month project led by FireSpirit and ID Fusion Software, which will assess the value of an Indigenous ICT Development Centre in providing ICT services and training to local communities.

The Indigenous ICT Development Centre will work with Indigenous youth and underemployed people and test approaches to meaningful training and paid work experience, job coaching, and mentorship while in their home communities. In collaboration with Indigenous and non-Indigenous employers, this project assesses the matching of ICT professionals with businesses looking for ICT support services.

This project is uniquely driven by two Indigenous private sector organizations to create a framework to allow Indigenous ICT professionals to train, collaborate, and market their services individually and collectively. The project involves 40 participants, in the communities surrounding Winnipeg and The Pas, Manitoba.

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“Facilitating Access to Skilled Talent (FAST)” with Immigration Employment Council of British Columbia (IEC-BC)

Testing expanded occupation streams for an online skills assessment and development platform to help newcomers better enter the labour market

Immigration is essential for the growth of Canada’s economy. However, on average, newcomers to Canada have higher unemployment rates and lower wages despite higher education levels. Piloted as a pre-arrival program, FAST is an online, occupation-specific, skills assessment and development platform to help newcomers overcome barriers like international credential recognition and a lack of Canadian work experience.

Through occupation-specific technical and soft skill competency assessments, FAST helps newcomers compare their skills against standards required for work in Canada, resulting in better understanding of how their skills can meet labour needs. Having served over 600 clients in 68 occupations in skilled trades, biotechnology and life sciences, and information technology, initial results show that 66% of FAST clients who have landed in Canada found work in their field within four weeks of arrival.

The Future Skills Centre will invest $2.38M in this two-year project led by IEC-BC, which will test the current streams and explore expanded pathways in accounting, tourism, and hospitality sectors to meet demand in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, supporting 1,500 newcomers.

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“Defining Digital Competencies” with the Information Technology Association Canada (ITAC)

New skills training program to test a blended approach for digital and professional competencies

Due to rapidly shifting digital skills needs, a disconnect exists between the skills of many post-secondary graduates and the technical skills required by employers. These digital skills often include a combination of innovation, entrepreneurship, an understanding of the technology adoption processes, and soft skills, including communications, creativity, and adaptability. Innovative approaches are needed to better define the digital competencies required to fill this talent gap and create new opportunities.

The Future Skills Centre will invest $1.24M in a two-year project led by ITAC, which explores new approaches to defining digital competencies and creating new pathway opportunities into digital roles for non-STEM graduates, internationally-educated professionals, and high-potential workers without traditional credentials. This subsidized project uniquely delivers skills training in a heavily-blended approach for digital and professional competencies.

ITAC, along with member companies and partners, will work to define a set of in-demand, innovative digital competencies. Using this knowledge, curriculum will be developed and tested for alternative pathways into digital roles. Rigorous skills testing and aptitude assessments will be a key component of this project.

This project will target 370 job seekers and employers in the Greater Toronto Area, Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia.

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“For-Credit InSTEM Program” with Actua

Testing a culturally-based approach to essential employability skills training for Indigenous and Northern youth

While Indigenous youth are one of the fastest-growing populations in Canada, their participation rates in the digital and STEM-based economy are below the national average. Barriers to Indigenous and Northern engagement in the workforce include low high school completion rates and lack of opportunities to participate in STEM programs where Indigenous culture and knowledge is recognized as the foundation for skills development.

The Future Skills Centre will invest $2.3M in a two-year project led by Actua, which aims to look at ways to address these barriers through a for-credit high school program to apply a locally and culturally relevant approach to building digital literacy with key foundational, reading, and numeracy skills. The project involves the assessment of two key programs: an in-school component and a summer-based on-the-land component, both rendering high school credits. During the second year of the project, a work placement program will be developed and tested, and selected students completing the land program will be placed in Actua-facilitated internships with industry partners.

75 First Nations youths will take part in the first cohort of this program, including Kwanlin and DünTa’an Kwäch’än First Nations youth in Yukon; Inuvialuit and Gwich’in First Nations youth in Northwest Territories; and, Frog Lake First Nations youth in Alberta.

Actua works closely with Indigenous community leaders, local school boards, Elders, and industry partners to develop program curriculum to ensure programming reflects local priorities. The Indigenous-led land-based learning model is designed to meet the specific needs and interests of Indigenous youth.

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“Bridging Competencies in a Technology-Supported Youth Employment Pathway” with Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC), and First Work, and MaRS Discovery District

Testing an integrated assessment model and job matching for youth job seekers.

With rapid and often confusing changes to the labour market, career pathways are becoming less linear and predictable for Canadian youth entering the workforce. Youth often face challenges understanding emerging opportunities and recognizing transferable experience. Infrastructure is needed to help youth navigate employment paths in more responsive, personalized, and targeted ways.

The Future Skills Centre is investing $2.5M in a two-year project led by OTEC, MaRS Discovery District, and First Work, which explores the creation of a single, technology-enabled employment pathway for youth.

This project explores how competency assessment models can be enhanced by technology to support more targeted employment skills training. OTEC’s ALiGN assessment and job-matching model is designed to “screen in” candidates in the absence of transferable skills or experience. MaRS’ Employment Pathway Platform is a career guidance tool created in partnership with Google to help create career paths in a rapidly changing economy.

This project integrates both technologies from OTEC and MaRS into a single cohesive platform covering two key stages of the employment and skills development process. First, the platform identifies occupations that fit with a youth job seeker’s interests and then, secondly, explores the required skills to be successful in those roles. In partnership with First Work, key partners will be included in youth employment services organizations.

This project will engage 2,000 youth in pursuit of the most efficient skills training path to employment and ongoing career navigation in Western, Central, and Atlantic Canada.

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“Future Skills Innovation Network for Universities” with FUSION

A national network of Canadian universities focused on innovative skills development to prepare students for the future economy

Today’s rapidly changing economy is leaving many university graduates chronically underemployed. However, universities are uniquely positioned to train students in the technical knowledge and soft skills they need to adapt and succeed.

To help universities bridge this gap, the Future Skills Centre is investing $2.5M over two years in FUSION, a national network of six universities — Concordia University, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, Carleton University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. This initial funding supports FUSION’s network model, which will foster collaboration around skills development and speed the diffusion of successful innovations.

FUSION’s projects focus on building more inclusive forms of skills development through its three priorities:

FUSION will involve approximately 1,500 students enrolled in for-credit programs in its first two years. It also aims to open pathways into university education by partnering with primary and secondary schools, non-profit organizations, and government-funded programs. This will shed light that increased collaboration across the educational pathway improves graduates’ employability. FUSION’s network structure and collaborative goals represent a new way of working for Canadian universities to fill an important gap in Canada’s post-secondary landscape.

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