Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation (OCWI) Helps Narrow Labour Gap

Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation

One of the most formidable hurdles encountered by jobseekers, myself included before I found Mentor Works, is the seemingly vast disconnect between the skills we possess and the skills that prospective employers are expecting from their recruit. Reading job descriptions that require specialized skills or the dreaded “X years of experience” can be discouraging for most applicants, especially recent graduates whose experience to date has been accumulated from academia or temporary summer positions.

An additional hurdle is that jobseekers often undervalue their skills or cannot see how their current skills can be applied. As a history graduate with two degrees in that subject, I often encountered well-meaning assumptions that I would become a teacher after graduating – because what else, really, can you do with a history degree (or two)? A lot, it turns out, but it took a while for me to figure that out. My degree provided me with many transferrable soft skills, including the ability to think critically and write effectively, which is transferrable to a variety of professional occupations.

Related Blog: IBM Innovation Incubator (i3) Fosters Tech Development in Ontario – The newly announced IBM Innovation Incubator (i3) will help Ontario businesses access advanced computing equipment and post-secondary research institutions to develop and commercialize new technologies.

Ontario Government Launches the Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation

Fortunately for recent graduates and other jobseekers in Ontario, the province – in a collaboration led by Ryerson University – has launched the Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation (OCWI). OCWI will focus much of its attention on the intersection of the needs of employees and employers and, in doing so, will attempt to bridge the information gap between the two groups.

Employers will be consulted to better understand their labour needs.

Employers will be consulted as part of the centre’s initiative to recalibrate employment service systems to better align with employer demands and needs. By opening up a dialogue between employers and prospective employees, the Ontario government aims to decrease unemployment rates and create an optimized training program that integrates the needs and knowledge of both parties.

Ontario’s workforce, alternately, will be offered the opportunity to learn critical skills that will allow them to find work, succeed in their positions, and ultimately retain their jobs.

Fast Facts:

  • The establishment of this centre marks the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, providing $3.5 in Ontario government funding;
  • The centre features a single window system to streamline access to evidence-based employment and training resources;
  • OCWI training programs will focus heavily on equipping Ontarians with vital skills needed to be competitive in today’s job market; and
  • It is led by a twelve-partner consortium, including Lakehead University, Brock University, Ontario Disability Employment Network, and George Brown College.

Bringing Attention to Unemployment and Skills Development Will Benefit the Economy

Investing in a highly skilled workforce is part of the government’s plan to help grow Ontario’s economy and drive social development. On a much larger scale, the centre aims to ensure that the province is positioned to compete in the global economy.

“Building a 21st century workforce is a key priority area of our Emerging Stronger agenda. 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.”
– Allan O’Dette, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ensuring an Accessible and Inclusive Environment for all Ontario Jobseekers

OCWI will provide accessibility and inclusion for participants across the province. This includes the establishment of regional hubs to stretch geographic reach, and bilingual services to reach members of both national languages. Businesses and jobseekers can access OCWI’s services through:

  • Four coordinating regional hubs (located in Toronto, Thunder Bay, London, and Kingston/Gananoque);
  • A bilingual website; and
  • An Employment Ontario Live Chat for jobseekers and employers who might lack the resources to travel to one of the OCWI hubs.

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