Canada’s complex and changing labour market requires mid-career workers to adapt, retrain, and/or upskill to be successful today and in the future economy. Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures today announces a $7.65 million investment for ten new innovation projects that will help identify the best training opportunities for mid-career workers. From skills assessment platforms and apprenticeships, to upskilling via a virtual reality simulator, thousands of Canadians across the country will participate in testing these novel approaches to skills development.

Many of these projects will engage mid-career workers in specific sectors that are experiencing, or are at-risk of, disruption and displacement, and help to identify ways to transition them into high-growth job opportunities. Others will explore common denominator barriers to successful career transitions and improving current services.

These projects will identify needs and test effective approaches to upskilling/skills training across the country:

  • In Calgary, exploring training types to help prepare and connect highly skilled oil and gas workers with high-demand jobs in the growing tech sector
  • In Nova Scotia, assessing the effectiveness of a virtual reality upskilling program for professional truck drivers
  • In Oshawa and Kitchener-Waterloo, identifying the specific skills needed by at-risk auto workers to transition to high-demand jobs in the mold-making and injection-molding trades
  • Testing training models that would upskill cashiers and meat processing workers across Canada for higher skilled jobs in the food and retail sectors
  • In Manitoba, assessing enhanced training programs for adult learners who experience “Learner Shock,” including feelings of frustration, confusion, and anxiety about mid-career transitions
  • Exploring upskilling opportunities that best support mid-career workers with disabilities across Canada, who are particularly vulnerable to displacement in today’s changing labour market

Learn more about our innovation projects with full project descriptions.

As the lead on the Future Skills Centre’s evidence generation strategy, Blueprint is working closely with project partners to design rigorous evaluations that generate actionable information on what works, for whom and why. The evaluation results for these ten projects will help build a stronger evidence base in supporting mid-career workers and ensure partners have the information they need to improve, adjust, and make decisions on how best to achieve desired outcomes. Learn more about our evaluation strategy.

Future Skills Centre’s Support for Mid-Career Workers Call was launched on April 2, and closed on May 2, 2019. Mid-career workers, defined as individuals who have been working for several years, have been recognized as a group facing challenges in the changing labour market and in need of upskilling and training opportunities. Over 100 submissions were received in response to the call from across the country. Due to the large volume of high quality proposals, the Centre is delighted to increase the total investment for the successful projects from $4M to $7.65M over the next two years.

These ten projects will build on the Future Skills Centre’s six inaugural innovation projects and reinforce the Centre’s commitment to testing and evaluating strategies to help build a skilled and resilient workforce. The next call for proposals will open later this summer. If individuals are interested in being consulted on the themes for our next call, please visit our call for proposals webpage for information.


“We are really happy that this theme resonated with so many regional, community-based, and academic organizations,” said Mel Wright, Interim Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre. “Together with our partners, we look forward to learning from these projects and contributing to a growing evidence base of innovative and effective approaches to skills and training for mid-career workers, for the benefit of all Canadians.”

“On behalf of our partners and the Interim Advisory Board, we are thrilled to announce the funding of these ten mid-career innovation projects,” said Steven Liss, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University and Acting Chair of the Future Skills Centre Interim Advisory Board. “Their diversity in scope, formats, sectors, and regions remind us of the breadth of Canadian experiences and the need for local responses. In conjunction with a pan-Canadian strategy, this approach will help us become a nation of lifelong learners.”

“The nature of work is changing and Canadians need to be equipped with the skills necessary to find the good, quality jobs of the future. These ten new innovative projects will test new training approaches, across a number of sectors, to support Canadian workers to keep their skills up-to-date and in demand for the future Canadian economy,” said Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Workforce Development and Labour

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