Skills & Talent

Upskilling & Reskilling

Lifelong Learning for Canadians

Workforce needs are constantly evolving. To ensure businesses have the talent they need and mid-career workers have access to training to keep their skills relevant, polytechnics offer a range of upskilling, reskilling and corporate training. Meanwhile, the mid-career workforce is often forced to pivot, enhancing demand for retraining and upskilling opportunities. Canada’s polytechnics are essential providers of career-focused education and training to learners across this spectrum.

Mid-career Retraining

Careers are no longer linear. Economic change has created a significant need for lifelong learning, with work punctuated by bursts of retraining. Polytechnics are ready partners, offering upskilling and retraining to people at every stage of their careers. A more productive and resilient workforce is one that can modernize skills on an as-needed basis, adopting new technology as it is introduced and transitioning quickly when displaced. Individuals can often access training online, on evenings and weekends, or in short-burst training. For employers, polytechnics are well-positioned to offer expert-led, industry-specific education and training in the form of single-day workshops or delivered over time.


Despite their surge in popularity, there is no standard definition for micro-credentials as a means for competency validation.  As a result, Polytechnics Canada has adopted a definition and guiding principles proposed by a group of pan-Canadian academic leaders.

Definition: A micro-credential is a certification of assessed competency that is additional, alternate, complementary to or a component of a formal qualification.

Guiding principles

  1. Micro-credentials are a complement to traditional credentials (certificate, diploma or degree)
  2. Micro-credentials are subject to a robust and rigorous quality assurance process
  3. Micro-credentials represent competencies identified by employers/industry sectors to meet employer needs
  4. A micro-credential represents functional ability in one workplace competency
  5. Micro-credentials clearly document how the competency was assessed
  6. Micro-credentials are stackable, providing clear and seamless pathways across different credentials (both non-credit and credit)
  7. Micro-credentials are based on mastery of a competency, rather than time spent learning
  8. Micro-credentials are secure and portable
  9. Micro-credentials are subject to individual institutional approval processes

Bridge Training and Advanced Placement

The ability to quickly retrain and re-deploy workers will be paramount to Canada’s success at a time of economic and technological disruption. This relies on the ability to identify the specific work-related skills of individuals who find themselves in transition and match them to appropriate retraining opportunities. Doing so stands to leverage their previous learning and skills, maximizing efficient labour market transitions.

Bridge training is often used to launch skilled newcomers into positions that match their experience in the shortest possible time, supporting transition into fields with strong employment prospects. Competency-based assessments, wraparound supports such as language training and in-class instruction from industry professionals are key ingredients. Bridging programs can also be used to assist displaced workers transitioning from one industry to another.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition is one way to measure an individual’s existing stock of skills, knowledge and abilities. Once the assessment is complete, learners can be directed to training and education opportunities aimed at skill and competency gaps.