Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains today announced $1,117,879 in funding for Palette Skills, a national nonprofit dedicated to retraining workers in light of automation and the digital economy.
AI could disrupt every industry, with all companies requiring AI-related occupations by 2030.
-Brookfield Institute report
Toronto-based Palette Skills was founded in 2017 by a University of Toronto computer science professor, Arvind Gupta, as well as AJ Tibando an entrepreneur and fellow at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BII+E). The nonprofit was launched in partnership with the BII+E, with Tibando serving as its executive director. Palette Skills and the BII+E work closely together testing the Institute’s research through programming.
The organization, housed in OCAD University’s innovation space, looks to help mid-career workers upskill into higher demand jobs. Palette Skills’ stated mission is to reduce anxiety about the future, address talent shortages for industries, as well as create new job pathways for workers facing automation.
The $1,117,879 from the federal government is being administered through the Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and part of Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP), a grants-and-contributions program with the objective of addressing current and future skills shortages. The funding is being put towards Palette Skills’ pilot project – Upskilling Mid-Career Workers Impacted by Automation, which will provide training to mid-career retail workers to give them the skills to find sales and marketing jobs in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. At least 60 workers are set to receive training through the program.
In a report released earlier this year, the BII+E projected that AI could disrupt every industry, with all companies requiring AI-related occupations by 2030, making it highly competitive to retain talent. Bains also noted in his announcement that while the Canadian ICT sector has been growing, businesses still find that one of the biggest issues they face is around finding highly skilled talent.
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“We’re very fortunate that we have a record low unemployment rate [in Canada],” Bains told BetaKit, pointing to the more than one million jobs that have been created, and wages that have been increasing.
“This is all positive but there are some challenges as well, which is the changing nature of work [and] new skills that are required. In the next ten years, the majority of jobs are going go through major skills transformation and so what is the role of government, the private sector, and industries to reskill and upskill people so they can succeed,” Bains said.
He emphasized the need for growing tech companies to train and retrain workers but not worry about losing them afterward to the competitive job market, rather to think of it as creating a talent pool that benefits Canadian tech companies enlarge.
Ten ICT employers including Clearblanc, Moneris, and Canadian Council of Innovators, will help design Palette Skills’ training program as well as offer the participants paid job placements. Palette Skills stated that they expect 90 percent of workers participating in the pilot to find work in the ICT sector after completing the program.