U of T joins national consortium to address talent needs of post-pandemic economy

young woman going up a set of stairs
U of T's Faculty of Arts & Science is partnering with non-profit Palette Skills and other academic and business organizations to upskill Canadians for high-demand roles in fast-growing parts of the economy (photo by ArthurHidden via Getty Images)

The University of Toronto is partnering with Palette Skills, a national non-profit organization, and other major Canadian academic and business organizations to address the growing skills gap in the Canadian economy and advance an inclusive post-pandemic recovery.

The consortium, launched this week, will include U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science as part of its mission to create programs to rapidly upskill Canadians for high-demand roles in the fastest-growing parts of the economy.

“Collaboration between Canada’s businesses and its higher education partners will be a key factor in our ability to create good jobs and economic growth across the country,” said U of T President Meric Gertler.

“The University of Toronto is proud to host this great initiative led by Palette Skills, and we look forward to collaborating with its member organizations and institutions.”

Along with U of T, other founding members of the consortium include the Business Council of Canada, the Council of Canadian Innovators, Business Council of British Columbia, the Brookfield Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and several Canadian universities.

U of T, which is also a co-founder of the Business/Higher Education Roundtable, will collaborate with the consortium’s partners to identify talent gaps and develop strategies for filling them as Canada works to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. Together with Palette Skills, the partners will develop demand-driven, industry-led accelerated training programs aimed at rapidly transitioning more Canadians into high-demand roles.

“Canada has an extremely talented and diverse workforce, but we lack accessible pathways to transition large sections of the Canadian workforce into careers in industries that emerge from the pandemic ready to grow and compete on a global scale,” said Arvind Gupta, a computer science professor at U of T and the chief executive officer of Palette Skills.

“This newly announced consortium of business and higher education partners ensures that we can effectively provide a broad cross-section of opportunities to Canadians.”

U of T has been working with Palette Skills since last November to support individuals whose careers were disrupted by the shifting global economy. Palette Skills offers an integrated platform for mid-career upskilling aimed at training Canadians in technical skills that will allow them to thrive in growing industries.

“We’re excited to support Palette’s mission and to work alongside many leading organizations to address the skills gap across Canada,” said Melanie Woodin, dean of U of T’s Faculty of Arts & Science and a member of the Palette board of directors.

“Palette is at the forefront of the talent industry and is having great success developing programs that help transition those who are underemployed into high-demand roles. We look forward to joining Canada’s top researchers and industry leaders to help improve the lives of Canadians by driving new solutions and creating unique opportunities for success.”

The consortium, which includes Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, University of Guelph, Université Laval and the University of Saskatchewan, as well as U of T, is seeking to expand to other post-secondary colleges and universities, business associations and community partners from coast to coast.

“Close partnerships between educators and employers ensure that workers learn the skills they need to build successful careers,” said Goldy Hyder, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Canada.

“Palette is building the programs we need to create a better future and a higher quality of life for Canadians.”

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