Identifying Digital Skills Gaps in Sarnia-Lambton’s Workforce

Knowledge workforce is one of the six key indicators The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) uses to measure the technological and communicative intelligence of a community. An intelligent community exhibits the determination and demonstrated ability to develop a workforce qualified to perform knowledge work at any level.

Extensive community consultation with industry, academia and government organizations revealed significant gaps in digital skills among youth and young adults in the Sarnia-Lambton region.

In November 2016, the Sarnia-Lambton Youth Skills Connection (YSC), a training and employment program for youth (15-29 yrs.), was developed to provide area youth with the theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience local employers seek, while connecting them to long-term employment opportunities.

YSC is a public-private partnership between Lambton College, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, the County of Lambton, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, over 20 local companies, and the provincial government. The project was funded with close to $1.6M support through Employment Ontario, the YSC partners and other private companies.

Through consultations and brainstorming workshops, detailed training requirements were identified for the Sarnia-Lambton job market including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing and 3D Printing
  • Modern Web and App Development
  • Enterprise Project Management
  • Business Development, Marketing and Sales
  • Advanced Tools for Crop Harvesting and Bio-Process Operations.

Experts with these digital skills were hired to develop and deliver the training modules to provide both in-class training and hands-on practical experience.

After the training, YSC connects graduates with industry and private companies for paid internships.

The YSC program addresses digital skills gaps from two angles: providing youth with industry-identified needs, employable skills and employment opportunities thereby easing the burden incurred by employers when they hire youth.

Since its launch, the program has drawn over 150 participants and engaged over 30 industry partners. The first round of training completed in July 2017 with nine graduates gaining full-time employment and another 13 being offered internships. The program is set to end in December 2017, but there is hope for renewed programming and expansion to address other digital skill gaps.

Check back at this section of our website next week as we look at how innovation is helping our community to prosper and grow.

Related:  What Makes an Intelligent Community | Expanding Rural Broadband in Lambton County

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