Harnessing the power of partnerships to drive post-secondary forward

Ontario’s public colleges have always worked with industry and community organizations to ensure curriculum was relevant and up-to-date, and that students had opportunities for work-integrated learning experiences.

Today, partnerships with industry are the lifeblood of our institutions and are helping to shape the future of education in the province and beyond.

Applied research, scholarships, work-integrated learning on-campus and online as well as networking, mentorship and outreach are some of the ways these relationships expose Ontario students to career options and help Ontario businesses succeed.

Post-secondary institutions, like Humber, are an important pipeline for the talent that businesses need. The value of Humber’s polytechnic model of education is increasingly being recognized by businesses and partners through philanthropic gifts and long-term partnerships.

Building capacity for students to graduate with in-demand skills is crucial to meeting labour market needs and propelling Ontario’s economy forward, and there is an important role for industry and private partners to play in supporting student success.

Humber’s Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (Barrett CTI) is a shining example of this kind of partnership in action.

The Barrett CTI is a powerhouse of technological innovation and, working with Humber’s industry partners, it allows us to provide small to medium-sized enterprises, faculty and students with cutting-edge resources through its interactive labs, technology zones and maker spaces. The Centre was made possible in part thanks to the college’s ongoing relationship with the Barrett Family Foundation (BFF).

The collaboration between the BFF and Humber has been taken to a new level with the recent announcement of the Foundations’ $30 million gift to Humber. Combined with their previous donations to Humber’s Unlimited Campaign, the BFF has now given a total of $42 million, making their donation the largest in Canadian college history. With these new funds, STEM programs at Humber will flourish and students will have new opportunities to develop and build digital and innovation skills critical for today and the future world of work.

Humber’s partnership with the Barrett Family Foundation and its co-founders Bob Barrett, president and CEO of Polytainers, and Francine Rouleau-Barrett demonstrates the power of our polytechnic model of education and private collaboration with public post-secondary institutions.

As the province continues to recover from the pandemic and industries face headwinds with inflation, supply chain disruptions and more, the relationship between post-secondary and industry has never been more important. Beyond a strong business case, I would argue these partnerships are critical as our society must rise to meet the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change, internationalization, and other global economic forces.

To contribute to a better world, Humber and other post-secondary institutions are compelled to meet economic and labour force needs, support business growth through applied research, and build a more sustainable and equitable world. We can do this by sharing our expertise and working with external partners to find solutions to common issues facing our world.

The capacity for innovation that post-secondary institutions, such as Humber, bring to the Ontario economy is invaluable and we must continue to nurture industry partnerships within the sector. As we have seen firsthand, when these partnerships are cultivated, there are tremendous possibilities and benefits.

About the Author

Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan

Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan is the President and CEO of the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.