Ontario's Government’s commitment of more than $1.4 million to help create a cutting-edge career exploration tool for jobs in the steel and aluminum industries. The Leeds Grenville based Employment + Education Centre (EEC) will lead a project to develop virtual reality (VR) software and work closely with regional employers to create virtual career exploration modules. Through these modules, job seekers will be able to learn about career options in a dynamic and interactive digital environment. The VR modules can later be used by employment service providers all over the province.
Photo includes from left to right, Elisabeth Meyer, Program Manager at EEC, Sue Watts, Executive Director of EEC, Steve Clark, MPP, Harrison Olajos, CEO of UP360
Innovative System Created in Brockville Funded by MTCU
Brockville, ON (May 21, 2019) – The Employment + Education Centre (www.eecentre.com) in conjunction with UP360 Inc. are thrilled to announce that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities have funded their CareerLabsVR system through the Ontario Labour Market Partnership fund with a specific focus on the Steel and Aluminum sector.
CareerLabsVR will provide all Ontarians with the opportunity to explore, learn, and discover a variety of career options through the immersive power of virtual reality. This virtual reality (VR) system, puts job seekers in the driver's seat to not only get tailored job information, but to see, hear, and experience the job itself... without ever leaving the Career Practitioner's office. Research indicates that 90% of what we see and do is retained, something that has always been missing from traditional career decision making methods. This makes virtual reality incredibly beneficial and involves job seekers in a completely new way. CareerLabsVR will open career opportunities for people, which they might not have otherwise known about, or considered. This includes current high-demand occupations and future occupations. The resulting increase in knowledge, ability to experience jobs and skill development will lead to employment that people require to improve their financial security. Research shows that when people are empowered with skills, confidence, training and choose employment in a job with which they are satisfied, their earnings are positively impacted.
This funding will be used to develop 10 occupations predicated on the notion of the “life cycle” of the Steel and Aluminum sector, including Mining, Welding, Fabrication, Machining and Recycling along with Draftsperson, Tool & Dye and Sheet Metal worker. Industry partners from this sector and from across the province will be engaged to ensure accuracy and precise creation of these careers in the virtual reality realm.
The Ontario Labour Market Partnerships program provides financial assistance to local communities, sector groups, employee/employer associations, and employers in developing and implementing strategies for addressing and responding to local economic (employment) development, labour force adjustments and human resource planning. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities delivers the program in Ontario.
MPP Steve Clark states, “The CareerLabsVR project will give Ontario businesses a unique new way of attracting talent and to give workers and jobseekers an exciting and compelling way to learn about careers in the steel and aluminum industries. I’ve had the opportunity to try the technology and I’m excited that this leading-edge project is happening right here in Brockville at the EEC. The CareerLabsVR project is an example of how we are tapping into Ontario’s innovation potential and supporting our digital talent.”
According to Sue Watts, Executive Director of the Employment + Education Centre, “as the demand for skilled workers increases, so does the need to provide practical, comprehensive, skills-based learning opportunities for job seekers. CareerLabsVR provides a unique solution towards connecting the right worker with the right job, thus reducing recruitment, training time and expense, while enabling the prospective candidate to gain an enhanced and realistic understanding of the career and what it entails”.
Harrison Olajos, CEO of UP360 Inc., partner in this project, “Virtual Reality is an incredibly powerful technology that has the power to revolutionize the future employment and education service. Through partnerships like these, we can bring that future to people in Ontario sooner and put Ontario on the Map as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking provinces in the world. On behalf of all of us at UP360, we are all extremely proud and excited to be a part of the team building these tools, and using this technology to help individuals and industry in the province.”
Sue Watts, Executive Director of EEC, MPP Steve Clark and Harrison Olajos CEO of UP360, celebrate the innovation and launch of the Employment + Education Centre’s CareerLabs. This virtual reality system is changing the face of employment services and positively impacting career decision making for all people.
New Training to Fill the Skills Gap in the Manufacturing Sector
Leeds and Grenville, ON (May 21, 2019) – A collaboration, consisting of Economic Development Offices from Brockville, Gananoque, Prescott and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, along with the Employment + Education Centre (EEC), CSE Consulting, KEYS and St. Lawrence College, are pleased to announce SkillsAdvance Ontario has invested $500,000 in a project called Pathways to Production.
The funding will respond to the manufacturing industry’s needs by providing a pipeline of skilled employees to fill local job opportunities, add value to the local manufacturing sector by reducing costs and increasing productivity through retention strategies, on-boarding, coaching, mentoring and post-hiring support. Pathways to Production will support manufacturers in improving workplace culture of engagement which will assist with attraction mechanisms. This program will also be a catalyst to improved understanding of careers within the sector and how to best manage careers for success in the manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing sector employers in Leeds Grenville have indicated that there is a skills gap and those potential employees that are available are ill-equipped to fill their current needs, let alone their future needs. This is directly affecting their ability to maintain and grow their businesses. The Economic Development Offices of Brockville and United Counties of Leeds and Grenville have conducted research that statistically support this need. The area’s Employment Service Providers have tried to help manufacturing employers hire over 200 employees in the past 12 months and have noted the same concerns.
SkillsAdvance Ontario funds partnerships that connect employers with the employment and training services required to recruit and advance workers with the right essential, technical, and employability skills. It also supports jobseekers to obtain employment by providing them with sector-specific employment and training services, and connecting them to the right employers. SkillsAdvance Ontario embodies a sector-focused strategy that takes into consideration the dynamic nature of regional economies and labour markets, as well as the evolving requirements of different industrial sectors. SkillsAdvance Ontario projects provide the ministry the opportunity to test the effectiveness and efficiencies of sector-focused, partnership-based programming.
MPP Steve Clark states, “I’m glad to see local educators, trainers and employers stepping up to create opportunities in Prescott, Brockville and Gananoque. Through this project, we’re giving 50 people a fair shot at leaving unemployment and gaining good, permanent jobs. Whenever I visit a local manufacturer, one of the first concerns they raise is the need for more skilled workers. This is an issue we have to address as a region to attract new investment and I’m proud our government is supporting this effort to create a larger skilled workforce.”
Ann Weir, Economic Development Officer for United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, says “we continue to have a very strong manufacturing base in the Leeds Grenville. Manufacturers were immediately open to working together to develop and grow their skilled workforce which ultimately positions the region well for the future.”
Sue Watts, Executive Director of the Employment + Education Centre is thrilled that the manufacturing sector is engaged with the development of this program to ensure that the training specifically meets their needs and results in employees who have the skills, abilities and behaviours to make their business successful.
John Edwards, Director of Operations of Prysmian Group and one of the sector partners in this project indicates “Prysmian views the SkillAdvance initiative as a positive approach to help close the gap of skills and knowledge needed to help new employees acclimatize and succeed in our modern industrial environments. Employee engagement and retention is critical in the achievement of competitiveness. We recognize and support the value this program will bring by improving targeted recruitment, improved safety training and on-boarding. We believe these factors will help create pathways for success especially during the early stages of employment when people feel the least comfortable in a new environment. Prysmian continues to invest and grow in our facility here in Johnstown and we are grateful for such initiatives and the support we continue to receive from local and regional authorities.”