Humber College North campus

Humber College has received close to $1 million to pursue a project that will help bridge the gap between individuals and employment. The funding comes from The Future Skills Centre (FSC), which is focused on preparing Canadians for the future of work and to meet the needs of Canadian industry.

The project, "Digital Fluency in the Workforce" will develop three stackable micro-credentials that will help train those who need to upgrade their skills, re-learn crucial skills, or have a means of demonstrate their knowledge of digital fluency for employment. Humber’s Digital Fluency Stackable micro-credentials offer an innovative, industry-recognized solution to tackle each of these needs, in a timely and flexible format.

Digital fluency skills enable individuals to use and adapt to digital tools, manage information, conduct research, and create and communicate effectively and ethically in digital spaces.

"This project will allow Humber to collaborate with more than a dozen partners to provide Ontarians with opportunities for up-skilling and re-skilling needed for success in today’s workforce,” said Chris Whitaker, president and CEO, Humber College. “The digital disruption to the Canadian workforce for individuals and employers and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on employment, education and re-training makes this project especially relevant."

Business and industry have been significantly impacted by rapid technological change. Employers are finding it hard to find workers with the skills they require, and job seekers are being left out, having little or no digital fluency skills.

"In the evolving world of work, digital fluency is now a foundational skillset, representing a core employability skill," said Geraldine Babcock, Director Community Outreach and Workforce Development (COWD) at Humber. Digital Fluency is also a Humber Learning Outcome. The department leading this project is Community Outreach and Workforce Development, which offers important opportunities for job seekers and Humber students, working in collaboration with the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sciences & Innovative Learning.

"Humber is pleased to partner with the Future Skills Centre and other participating stakeholders across Canada, to further innovative solutions to labour market changes,” said Babcock. “This timely initiative will support those faced with unemployment find their place in the economy and thrive, as well as contribute to the economic recovery we all want to see post COVID-19."

Industry and Community partners

A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) comprised of twelve partner organizations are helping to develop the project. Community partners will help to provide wrap-around supports for the up to 300 participants of "Digital Fluency in the Workforce" project. Industry partners will guide the development of the digital fluency curriculum to ensure that the training is reflective of their needs and commit to hiring qualified participants.

The project will seek to specifically support youth, newcomers, those with essential skills gaps, and racialized people who face barriers to workforce entry by testing two delivery models. One will be a blended in-person delivery and the other will be completely online.

When complete, Humber and its partners will be able to contribute to a Canadian body of evidence related to workforce development, innovation for the future of work, and micro-credentialing, in partnership with the Future Skills Centre. For some partners, like Shopify, the project will help to meet their labour force needs.

Shopify is one of Humber’s industry partners for the "Digital Fluency in the Workforce" micro-credential series. The company will advise on and help inform the content of the courses.

"Future skills development is a key area of interest for the Open Learning program at Shopify. As a digital by default team, we look for a remote-first mindset that brings habits such as resilience, self-direction, adaptability, and self-awareness to bear upon every situation," said Therese Kirrane, Senior Social Impact Lead, Open Learning at Shopify.

Finding employees with the right skills can be a challenge, but to remain competitive, organizations need the right skill set to fill key positions.

Shopify, along with other participating industry partners, will be receiving resumés from job seekers who are successful in achieving the digital fluency micro-credential and will consider them for future positions in their companies.

Having direct input from industry partners for this project will help the learners to be successful in acquiring the skills that companies are seeking.

Future Focused

While the project will initially focus on GTA participants as a response to the skills gap in our local economy, Humber hopes to scale this solution nationally by contributing an industry recognized Digital Fluency micro credential to the skills development ecosystem across Canada.

For more information contact Humber’s Digital Fluency for the Workforce project lead, Nivedita Lane.