Webinar: Future Skills in the Canadian Labour Market

With labour shortages emerging across Canada in various sectors, our economic recovery will rely on the ability of Canadians and their employers to embrace lifelong learning. On April 27, the Canadian Club of Ottawa hosted a critical panel discussion on how Canada can bridge the skills gap to excel in the rapidly changing future economy.

Moderated by the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the event opened with remarks from Polytechnics Canada CEO Sarah Watts-Rynard. Panelists included Claude Brulé, President and CEO of Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, Laura Jo Gunter, President and CEO of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Dan Giurescu, Co-Founder and CEO of Credivera and Steve Barkhouse, President and owner of Amsted Design-Build. The discussion covered many topics related to the future of Canada’s workforce including economic recovery, upskilling workers and expanding the partnerships between industry and polytechnics.

Laura Jo Gunter
President and CEO
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)


Laura Jo Gunter became NAIT’s seventh President and CEO on August 24, 2020. An innovative leader, she brings extensive post-secondary knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit to her role.

Prior to joining NAIT, Laura Jo was President and CEO of Bow Valley College in Calgary. During her tenure she led the creation of a new strategic plan, Open Doors – Open Minds. She also expanded Bow Valley College’s brand locally, nationally and internationally through significant partnerships with global companies. In addition, she initiated Pivot-Ed, a platform that re-imagines adult education to help those needing to pivot in their careers. Pivot-Ed incorporates AI-driven assessments based on workplace simulations and micro-credentialing using blockchain technology.

Before coming to Alberta, Laura Jo spent a number of years in Ontario. She was the Senior Vice-President Academic for George Brown College. Her portfolio included all academic divisions, the office of applied and institutional research, international, academic services and student affairs, and registration.

Prior to joining George Brown College, Laura Jo was Dean of the Faculty of Information Arts and Technology at Toronto’s Seneca College, where she was later Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Design.

Laura Jo began her career in academic leadership in British Columbia where she was the Continuing Education Program Director for Applied Science at Simon Fraser University and then later the Vice-President of Programming, Special Projects and Industry Partnerships for the Vancouver Film School.

Ms. Gunter has also been an entrepreneur. She was the CEO and co-founder of Condition30 Inc., a software and game company based in Toronto and Vancouver. As well, Laura Jo was the Vice-President of Creative and Community for the British Columbia-based User Friendly Media.

A community builder, she has also given her time to advancing skills development and post-secondary education and to improving the communities in which she has lived in. She is a member of the Minister of Advanced Education’s Skills for Jobs Task Force and a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta. She was also a supporting contributor to the Skilled by Design: A Blueprint for Alberta’s Future Workforce report by the Business Council of Alberta. Previously, Laura Jo was a board member for Telus Spark, she chaired the Coordinating Committee of Vice-Presidents Academic for Colleges Ontario, was a member of the Interactive Ontario Board, and served as a board member of the North York General Hospital.

Laura Jo has a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University, and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University.

Laura Jo was a panelist for this event.


Claude Brulé
President and CEO
Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology


Claude Brulé was appointed as Algonquin College’s ninth President and Chief Executive Officer in August 2019. Prior to taking on this leadership role, Claude served the College at every level of its leadership team from Department Chair, to Faculty Dean, to Senior Vice President Academic where, for the past twenty years, he has been a champion for student success and an innovator in the higher education sector, providing leadership to the advancement of digital learning.

Prior to joining the College, Claude served 22 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, in the Air Force occupational branch of Communication and Electronics Engineering, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Among his many tours of duty, he was an instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE), and subsequently, its Senior Staff Officer for Strategic Planning and Chief of Staff. Between tours at CFSCE, he lectured in the Mathematics and Computer Science department as an assistant professor at the Royal Military College.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics and a Master’s of Science degree in Mathematics from the Royal Military College in Kingston. He is also a graduate of the Command and Staff College, and holds a certificate in Management and Leadership in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Claude is an active member of the community and serves on several boards, including Invest Ottawa, the Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE) and the Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF). He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and was promoted to Senior Member in 2018 for his significant contributions to the profession.

Claude was a panelist for this event.


Dan Giurescu
Co-founder and CEO


Dan Giurescu is the co-founder and CEO of Credivera, a global leader in the secure, open exchange of verified credentials and digital identity solutions. A pioneer in the technology space, Dan thrives on challenging the status quo, fueled by an on-going passion for creating leading-edge innovative solutions.

Prior to launching Credivera in 2017, Dan leveraged his regulatory knowledge, financial acumen and technology expertise to co-found Caledonia Solutions, a supply chain software product, sparking a much-needed digital innovation transformation within the dangerous goods industry.

Ever focused on creating best-in-class digital solutions, Dan is consistently driven by a personal mission of digitizing traditional business processes, and is currently supported by a dedicated Credivera team, consisting of global leaders in the combined disciplines of enterprise network solutions, FinTech, energy, e-commerce, privacy, and cloud-based technology.

With a strong belief in the value of all things community-based, Dan supports numerous local charities in Alberta and the growth of technology in Canada at large via membership and mentorship with the following organizations: The A100, IBM District Ventures, TEC Canada (Blockchain Advisory) and as a Board Member of Athabasca University (Business Leadership Advisory Council).

Credivera is the world’s first secure, open exchange for verified credentials. To stay relevant, organizations that issue credentials — such as diplomas, licenses, professional certificates, and competencies need to enable secure, verifiable credentials.

A leader in workforce management and digital identity, Credivera gives employees, employers, and organizations that issue credentials increased productivity and control of how important credentials are stored and shared.

The Credivera exchange optimizes personal privacy and trust, with up-to-date verified credentials secured in a digital wallet, resulting in reduced risk for all.

Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Calgary, our portable solution is used by highly regulated industries, government agencies, and global technology firms in over 30 countries worldwide.

Dan was a panelist for this event.


Steve Barkhouse
President and owner
Amsted Design-Build


Steve Barkhouse, President and owner of Amsted Design+Build, formed Amsted in 1989 and immediately became active in local, provincial and national trade associations. Amsted Design-Build and its sister company Restore-All Corporation are headquartered in the same village that Steve grew up in and epitomize many of the same small-town values that he embraced early in life and which form the company vision, mission and core values.

In 1991, Amsted won its first of dozens of custom home building awards and the following year won its first of many awards for home renovations.

Almost 30 years later, Amsted Design-Build employs over 60 people, has delivered thousands of projects, contributed to a stronger community and offered opportunities to countless college students. Steve has personally given back to Algonquin College by sitting on advisory committees and helping to raise millions of dollars to build the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence.

Steve was a panelist for this event.


Perrin Beatty
President and CEO
Canadian Chamber of Commerce


The Honourable Perrin Beatty, PC, OC, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the 200,000-member Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s largest and most representative national business association. Before joining the Canadian Chamber in August 2007, Perrin held the same role at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

Perrin was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative in 1972. During his 21 years in Parliament, he served as Minister in seven different portfolios, including Treasury Board, National Revenue, Solicitor General, Defense, National Health and Welfare, Communications and External Affairs.

In 1994, Perrin joined a number of private sector boards and worked as a consultant in communications. In addition, he was an Honorary Visiting Professor in Western University’s Department of Political Science. From 1995 to 1999, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In keeping with his long-standing interest in education, Perrin served as Chancellor of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology from 2008 to 2015. He has received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Western University, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Perrin is currently a member of the board of directors of Mitsui Canada and in 2018, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his lifetime of public service and for his devotion to the development of our nation as a community leader and corporate visionary. In 2020, the Government of Japan awarded Perrin the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in recognition of his many distinguished achievements in international relations and advancements in Canada-Japan business relations.

Perrin was the moderator for this event.


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The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Vice President, Academic Dr. Tom Roemer spoke with EvoLLLution on the role polytechnics have played in developing microcredentials and contributing to lifelong learning.

Sarah Watts-Rynard, CEO of Polytechnics Canada, wrote in Research Money on mid-career skills development being an important factor in addressing Canada’s skills shortage.

Seneca President David Agnew, provided commentary in the Toronto Star on the benefits of applied research learning opportunities at Canada’s polytechnics.