Future Skills: Engaging governments and stakeholders to build a skills development ecosystem

Future Skills is part of the Government’s plan to build a resilient and confident workforce that reflects Canada rapidly evolving nature of work. It embraces user-centred design principles to inform the adoption of proven practices and evidence on skills development approaches, to ensure that Canada’s policies and programs are prepared to meet Canadians’ changing needs. It was designed in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, and informed by a large range of stakeholders.

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Artificial intelligence, robotics, clean technologies, global competitiveness are just few of the disruptive trends that are changing the way Canadians work. These changes will also impact the way people develop skills and their ability to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities. In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada acknowledged the need for “new approaches to address skills gaps and support lifelong learning throughout Canadians’ working lives” and committed to investing in skills innovation to support skills development and measurement in Canada and to do it in partnerships with provinces and territories, the private sector, educational institutions and not-for profit organizations.

Future Skills results from recommendations made by the multi-sectoral Advisory Council on Economic Growth and the Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) that is composed of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour market issues. In 2018, the Government of Canada announced in 2018 an investment of $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-2019, and $75 million per year thereafter in Future Skills to:
• examine major trends that will have an impact on national and regional economies and workers;
• identify emerging skills that are in demand now and into the future;
• develop, test and evaluate new approaches to skills development; and
• share results across public, private and not-for-profit sectors to support broad access to proven practices across Canada.

In spring 2018, Canada launched open calls for applications for membership to the Council and for proposals to setup and operate the Centre. In February 2019, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour announced related decisions:
• Future Skills Council - Fifteen technical and subject matter experts from Canada’s public, private, labour and not-for-profit sectors form the membership of the Future Skills Council. To ensure that the skills needs of all Canadians are taken into account, the membership is gender-balanced and represents Canada’s social and geographic diversity.
• Future Skills Centre - The research centre will operate at arm’s length from the Government of Canada to fund projects across Canada that develop, test and measure new approaches to skills assessment and development, to build evidence on what works for whom, under what conditions. Half of the Centre’s funding is dedicated to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, including up to 20% of the funding to address the needs of youth.

Both organizations will engage widely and broadly with stakeholders of the skills development ecosystem to identify trends and priorities, increase collaboration and connection among all stakeholders, leverage expertise, mitigate duplication, increase complementarity with other investments, and promote the adoption of knowledge created to inform future investments. The mobilization of new knowledge and lessons learned is integral to Future Skills and instrumental to transform Canada’s skills development and training opportunities that are more responsive to Canadians’ changing needs.

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