Building Talent for Canada’s Frontline

The critical role of Canada’s frontline workforce has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. In industries like healthcare and emergency response, technology, agriculture and construction, Canadians rely on the essential workers who keep the country fed, functioning, safe and healthy. Where did they learn the skills required when we needed them most? Canada’s polytechnics.

In this compendium, we share a few inspiring examples from Canada’s polytechnics of ways they are preparing student talent to support Canada’s health, safety, food systems and critical infrastructure.

Polytechnics & the Future of Work

Report after report on the future of work speaks to the skills that set humans apart, including dynamic problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability. The challenge is to develop the workforce we need today while empowering learners with the skills to succeed tomorrow. Canada’s polytechnics are ideally positioned to lead the charge. Among Canada’s post-secondary institutions, polytechnics have proven themselves to be adaptable, agile and well-connected to industry. They deliver up-to-date and in-demand skills across sectors and to all age groups. They support hands-on, applied and technology-enabled classroom and workplace learning. Best of all, they have the unique ability to pivot quickly as the ground shifts.

In this brief, learn how polytechnics are creating a work-ready talent pipeline that is prepared to take on the future of work, featuring:

  • Industry-responsive education
  • Industry-academic collaborative spaces
  • Mid-career retraining
  • Bridge training and advanced placement
  • Applied research

Environmental Leadership & Canada’s Polytechnics

The global climate emergency represents one of those rare occasions when the interests of youth, business and politics converge. Even as the social and economic impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent, questions persist about how to move forward and from where leadership will come.

At the intersection of talent development and business innovation, Canada’s polytechnics are well-positioned to address environmental sustainability in three important ways:

  • As publicly funded exemplars of net-zero and eco-friendly buildings, behaviours and experimentation
  • As hubs for the development of “green skills” among the thinkers and doers who will drive continuous improvement
  • As innovation intermediaries, helping businesses rethink their processes, products and systems

Polytechnics at Work

Canada’s 13 polytechnics are the post-secondary destination of nearly 370,000 students each year, all of whom are looking for a pragmatic, industry-focused education that positions them for speedy entry into the labour market. This brief provides high-level, collective statistics gathered annually from our members.

Polytechnic Applied Research

Applied research is an important way that Canada’s polytechnics support small- and mid-sized businesses that lack internal R&D resources. This four-page brief includes annual statistics gathered from our member institutions and provides ideas for how to maximize the impact of applied research in Canada.

Polytechnic Applied Research: Building a Stronger Canada

Applied research refers to an exceptionally broad range of supports delivered in response to industry demand. Polytechnic institutions across Canada mobilize state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and expertise to deliver solutions for partners across industrial and social sectors, often with the help of student talent. As a result, institutions have a flexible and agile applied research infrastructure that adapts to the unique requirements of a partner and their project. In most cases, intellectual property is retained by the business partner, creating an environment that amplifies the incentive for creative engagement and supports ongoing collaboration.

In this brief, we highlight a number of the projects underway and expertise available at our member institutions. Together, they showcase:

  • How applied research supports business development, leveraging innovation know-how to drive business performance
  • How applied research contributes to social development by leveraging innovation to improve life in Canada
  • How applied research is developing next-generation talent by leveraging innovation challenges

Canada’s Polytechnics & the Skilled Trades

Canada’s workforce is facing two distinct pressure points – an aging workforce and the emergence of disruptive technology. As new technologies become pervasive, the current workforce and recent graduates alike must develop new and in-demand skills to stay relevant in the labour market. As the pace at which Canadians are retiring also increases, the talent pipeline must become more efficient, with qualified workers ready to fill looming vacancies. While these issues are affecting the workforce broadly, the skilled trades are facing these dual challenges faster than most.

In this compendium of stories and examples from across our institutions, we identify the four ingredients of excellence in skilled trades training:

  • Future-focused facilities that reflect the ongoing critical role skilled tradespeople play in Canada’s economy
  • Innovative training delivery that responds to the pressures apprentices face to both return to trade school and maintain workplace connections
  • Supporting greater diversity and inclusion in the skilled trades by building confidence and competency among those groups currently under-represented
  • Inspiring leaders, who share their expertise and experience with apprentices who are just starting to imagine where a career in the trades will take them

Guide to Research Partnerships with Canada’s Colleges & Polytechnics

Companies looking to build innovative technologies, capitalize on expertise and solve business challenges will find this resource helpful to understanding how to work with Canada’s post-secondary institutions. Released by the Business + Higher Education Roundtable in collaboration with Polytechnics Canada, this guide outlines practical steps to building mutually beneficial relationships with polytechnics and colleges.