New Mohawk College program to address workforce gaps and support COVID-19 recovery


Published November 9, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Mohawk College announced on Monday (Nov.9) the launch of an ambitious workforce training initiative that seeks to educate, train and retrain thousands of workers in the next five years.

Challenge 2025, which was devised by a task force made up of leaders from the college, local corporate, community, education, health-care and municipal sectors, looks to make college education more accessible for all members of the community, including those in low-income situations and from vulnerable neighbourhoods.

It will also focus on retraining unemployed workers for meaningful employment and helping regional employers address unfilled jobs in their workforces, according to a press release sent out Monday.

“We are grateful for the leadership and support we received from the members of the task force,” said Mohawk College President and CEO Ron McKerlie in the release.

“We have the model to help people gain the education and skills they need to secure lasting, meaningful work and to help employers address challenging skills gaps in their workforces. Working with strong community and industry partners, I am convinced we can support lasting, generational change for families in Hamilton communities and across Canada.”

The program aims to support vulnerable unemployed and under-employed populations, including residents of low-income, vulnerable neighbourhoods, people who need to retrain as a result of disruptive workplace technologies and people displaced from jobs by COVID-19.

The City School by Mohawk program, established five years ago, delivers access to post-secondary education through community-based classrooms and mobile classrooms at the neighbourhood level. It will form the basis of Challenge 2025’s delivery.

“City School is an excellent example of what a successful demand-led initiative looks like and Challenge 2025 offers the necessary supports and resources to expand to a much greater, even national, level,” said Bill Young, President of Social Capital Partners, who also led the task force that developed the initiative.

“With employers at the table, articulating their needs, and people seeking meaningful new employment opportunities, this model can quickly be adapted to pandemic recovery, as well.”

Based on the work of the task force and a subsequent stewardship committee, Challenge 2025 aims to:

  • Partner with the City of Hamilton to support 3,000 people in the transition from income support programs to meaningful employment
  • Partner with 100 regional employers to deliver rapid, demand-led training that closes workforce gaps; providing employers skilled workers to support their resource needs, with a region-wide reduction in the skills gap.
  • Build a pathway to college for 4,000 participants (3,000 City of Hamilton trainees + 1,000 students); providing participants with reduced material and non-material barriers to education and employment
  • Partner with other community colleges across Canada to test the City School by Mohawk model

According to the press release, Challenge 2025 is being developed and administered by Mohawk College employees, with oversight by a stewardship committee of community representatives.

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