Using $1.08 million in funding through the Skills Development Fund (SDF), supported in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, the City of Barrie partnered with Georgian College to address skills development and labour shortages within the manufacturing sector. The project was based around engaging with employers to provide competency-based manufacturing micro-credential training to upskill workers currently employed in the sector.
The project addressed industry demands for increasing the future manufacturing workforce and enabling current and new employees to access skills training, including upskilling currently employed workers through a micro-credential program known as RapidSkills. It provided post-pandemic support and assisted local economic recovery efforts by addressing talent pipeline issues and labour market shortage. This had a two-fold effect of improving workers’ job competencies and productivity, and helping manufacturing businesses build talent capacity, motivate, and retain skilled employees.
The program also addressed current labour supply challenges by offering pre-employment supports, including soft-skills and mental health supports together with specific foundational manufacturing competency-based skills training to individuals seeking new employment or a career change. RapidSkills program interventions encouraged job seekers to consider the wide range of opportunities in the manufacturing sector and helped them prepare for job applications, interviews, and moving into employment.
RapidSkills program satisfaction surveys were issued post-course to participants to gain their feedback on whether they felt their employability had improved. 148 respondents completed the survey and of those, 144 (97%) answered that the micro-credential they had taken did improve their industry and local labour market employability skills. The level of employer support, with 47 manufacturers engaging with the program, and the interest shown by individual employees and job seeking participants with 225 registrants and 210 project completions, has validated the need for manufacturing sector upskilling in Barrie and the County of Simcoe.
Georgian College now has a developed micro-credential program that can continue to be offered in the future to help job seekers learn skills to gain employment and companies to upskill their employees. Also supporting the above initiatives, a career mapping tool was also developed to enable employers, employees, job seekers, and career and service support providers to plan customized skills training pathways by accessing relevant sector training and course information from providers within the region and Ontario.
The City of Barrie and Georgian College’s relationship strengthened through their partnership on this project. Members of the City’s Economic & Creative Development Department worked closely with Georgian’s Corporate Training & Continuing Education Department throughout the project and engaged colleagues from across each respective organization throughout, including communications, finance, research and innovation, and small business/entrepreneurship centres. Project partners from the County of Simcoe’s Economic Development Office and the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board & Literacy Network were also actively involved, helping promote the program throughout the region by utilizing connections with local businesses, business support organizations, and community partners.