The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone differently, but many individuals are struggling mentally. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 74 per cent of Ontarians are experiencing more mental health and addiction challenges since the spring of 2020.
As a result, the strain on frontline workers and employers who want to ensure employee wellness also increased.
Humber College leverages expertise, community partnerships and labour market connections to fill such skills and training gaps in a variety of sectors. In early 2022, the college will expand its offerings to address the situation.
On Wednesday, Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop announced funding for training that will help frontline healthcare workers and employers from all sectors respond to the mental health needs of their communities.
"Humber is committed to providing options for life-long and continuous professional learning to learners in many fields," said Chris Whitaker, president and CEO of Humber College.
"Offering health care professionals opportunities for reskilling or upskilling is critical as we help prepare frontline workers with the skills needed to identify and support their patients' mental health along with their own."
Dunlop and Christine Hogarth, MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Parliamentary Assistant for the Solicitor General, were at Humber's Lakeshore campus for the announcement.
The province will invest $15 million into rapid training programs to create micro-credentials at post-secondary institutions.
Micro-credentials help people upskill and retrain quickly in an ever-changing workforce.
"Our government continues to prioritize quick, flexible training opportunities that will prepare Ontarians for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow," said Dunlop.
"These micro-credentials will be developed in collaboration with industry to respond to regional labour market needs and will strengthen partnerships between post-secondary institutions, training providers and employers."
Humber's two new micro-credentials are funded through the Ontario Micro-Credentials Challenge Fund.
The Excellence in Mental Health Leadership micro-credential is offered in partnership with Sick Kids and will provide leadership and communication upskilling to mental health professionals.
Humber will also provide a micro-credential in Mental Wellness for Front-Line Health-Care Professionals in partnership with the TEMA Foundation,
"This offering is unique because it is not about reskilling or upskilling, but rather on helping those on the frontlines build resiliency so they can thrive in their current roles and chosen field," said Kelly Jackson, associate vice-president of Government Relations, Marketing and Communications.
Upon completion of a micro-credential at Humber, the learner receives a digital badge to include in portfolios, resumes and social media platforms like LinkedIn.
"As we look to the future, we know much remains uncertain with the timing of Ontario's pandemic recovery. What's clear is that micro-credentials have a key role to play, providing focused, flexible and rapid learning helping people develop new skills, meet the needs of their current employers or prepare for their next job," said Jackson.
In addition to supporting individuals in mastering critical skills, Humber's micro-credentials offer organizations a way to recognize and integrate critical skillsets into the workforce.
For more information on micro-credentials at Humber College, click here.