Mohawk College has announced that its Challenge 2025 initiative has already reached two out of its three goals since its start in 2019.
The workforce demand-led program was a five-year plan created to help address the issue of underemployment, poverty, under-education and labour shortages in the Hamilton area.
Mohawk College initially launched the program with the help of Mohawk College president Ron McKerlie and his co-chair, Social Capital Partners chairman and founder Bill Young.
Between the number of regional employers having difficulty filling roles and the people who want to work, a hole in the market needed to be filled, and it needed to be done with a demand-led model backed by data.
“The current system has not looked at this from the demand side [of data] at all,” Young said. “If you don’t look at it from the demand side, then our point was that it doesn’t matter what you do on the supply side, you will have a very suboptimal system. The system doesn’t understand that this has to be an easy and effective channel for employers to recruit people.”
The program was created to build upon the existing City School model – one that was intended to be run by the community, for the community in a supportive space.
“It’s about creating a space where individuals can pursue their aspirations, build hope for their future, for themselves and for their families, and so that’s really a critical piece to this, and then doing it in a way so that it ensures their success,” said Jim Vanderveken, dean for the Centre for Community Partnerships and Experiential Learning at Mohawk College. We want to make sure that if they’re going to engage or re-engage in an educational pathway, a training pathway, or a job destination, that we do everything in our power to make sure they’re successful. That is the focus of City School. And that is the focus of Challenge 2025.”
The initial goals were to engage 4,000 learners (3,000 through transitional pathways) and involve 100 regional employers while partnering with other communities across Canada.
In three-and-half years, the initiative has reached 2,500 learners, engaged with close to 200 employers, and colleges from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia have created the alliance of 4 colleges.
Going forward, the goals have been adjusted and added onto with the help and leadership of Khadija Hamidu, executive director of Workforce Planning Hamilton, and Sara Gill, executive director of Hamilton’s Adult Basic Education Association. The two will now serve as the initiative’s co-chair leaders with McKerlie and Young serving as advisers.
“It’s definitely a growing initiative as we [Hamidu and Gill] continue to be a part of it,” Hamidu said. “With the new implementation, we always want to have conversations with employers about what their needs are and the big thing was equipping them with more training and best hiring practices as a whole to form a more inclusive, equitable and diverse workforce.”
The Challenge 2025 new priorities include:
Micro-credentialing strategy – Support the development of a comprehensive strategy for offering micro-credential for participants.
New Ontario Works partnership – Coordinate and implement specific education and training activities designed to engage local residents in Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Programs.
Rapid Skills Training Lab – Execute programs through the newly-established Rapid Skills Training Lab at Mohawk College.
Indigenous Workforce Development Strategy – Support the development, coordination and implementation of an Indigenous-led strategy focused on workforce opportunity and community prosperity.
To learn more about the Challenge 2025 developments, visit: https://www.mohawknewsdesk.ca/challenge-2025-reaches-goals-halfway-through-mandate/