Communitech and a group of community partners have joined forces to help ensure Canadian workers, organizations and communities continue to succeed as technology transforms the workplace. This new group, formed as the Waterloo Region Future of Work and Learning Coalition, began informal conversations in January 2019 on what employers, employees, educators and government can do to build a community of practice to help future-proof the workplace.
The coalition brings together key stakeholders from government, industry and academia to collaborate on strategies to prepare the region for the future of work – a future already being shaped by advances in demographic shifts as well as artificial intelligence, automation and other technologies.
“We’ve recognized that the challenges presented by the future of work cannot be tackled by any one organizational entity,” said Simon Chan, Vice President of Talent, Academy and Future of Work at Communitech. “We are stronger together than apart, so have formed an adaptive coalition to research and test solutions that will help us to meet these challenges in our community.”
Rapid technological change means Canadian workers need new skills to succeed. This is especially true for mid-career employees aged 37 to 54, who make up 57 per cent of the Canadian workforce, according to research by Deloitte Bersin. The Waterloo Region Future of Work and Learning Coalition will tackle topics such as skills adoption, employee training and building healthy workplaces in addition to running pilot programs around issues such as continuous learning, the rise of the freelance workplace and evolving workplace expectations.
In addition to Communitech, the coalition includes these organizations in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor:
● Wilfrid Laurier University
● Morneau Shepell
● University of Waterloo
● City of Kitchener
● Conestoga College
● Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce
● Region of Waterloo
● Waterloo EDC
● City of Cambridge
● City of Waterloo
● Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin
“The coalition’s collective goal is to accelerate the change management process required to adapt and prepare for the future of work – an issue that companies big and small are grappling with,” said Mike Doughty, President & CEO of Manulife Canada. “Together, we’ll develop a future of work playbook for community collaboration, to become a hub for workplace best practices, championing a national conversation on future-proofing Canadian talent and organizations.”
Over the next year, the coalition will produce research papers to inspire a sense of urgency among leaders to better prepare employees and companies for the future of work. In addition, the coalition will host events to stimulate conversation on the future of work and launch pilot projects in Waterloo Region. One pilot is already underway, through a partnership between the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and local post-secondary institutions. The partners are working to better promote work-integrated learning at smaller organizations.
“Ambitious entrepreneurship and fierce collaboration is in this community’s DNA,” said Ian McLean, CEO of the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. “Forming a community coalition to tackle this issue is the natural next step for us. Together, we can ensure we take the right measures to make Waterloo Region the most progressive, future-of-work-ready community in Canada.”
“At TD, we’re helping our colleagues, customers and communities feel more confident about their futures,” said Norie Campbell, group head, customer and colleague experience, TD Bank Group. “We’re proud to partner with the coalition to support the Waterloo Region and help build inclusive futures where everyone can participate and thrive in the changing world of work.”
“Laurier is proud to be a founding member of this community coalition,” said Kristiina Montera, associate vice-president of teaching and learning (interim) at Wilfrid Laurier University. “As a Canadian leader in experiential learning, teaching excellence and student experience, we are looking forward to the impact of this coalition and how it will help shape our work as leaders in credential innovation, and as a future-ready university.”
As the coalition works together and begins to collect research and insights, they will open-source learnings and best practices within the community in addition to syndicating their models for use in other regions throughout Canada. The coalition will work with interested parties to adapt its learnings to best apply to the nuances of different communities across the country.
Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players.
Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways.
● Communitech is a place – the centre of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool tech and great companies.
● Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate.
● Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to help companies go from a small startup to a global giant.