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Workplace

Key factors for building a future-ready workforce

The pandemic has transformed how businesses have operated and has shifted the expectations of potential and current employees. The past few years have seen millions of jobs lost, whole industries changed forever, and a workforce and employers that may be struggling to keep up with rapidly evolving skills requirements and digitization. In a labour market where five generations coexist, organizations also face a delicate balance in creating advancement opportunities for young professionals while recognizing the value and needs of older workers.

This article explores four key areas that support cultivating a future-ready workforce now, as surfaced through the Building Future Ready Communities Virtual Tour in partnership with Magnet. This event series aimed to create opportunities for cross-sectoral dialogue on the future of work between community-based employment agencies, post-secondary institutions and employers across Canada.


Chantal Brine will be presenting co-presenting on “Building Future Ready Communities: Lessons from the Trenches” and Championing International Students: A Collaborative Career Development Model” at CERIC’s hybrid Cannexus conference, taking place Jan. 23-25, 2023. Learn more and register at cannexus.ceric.ca.


Diversity and inclusion

In order to embrace change and create a globally competitive future of work, diversity and inclusion is paramount. Research shows that diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse peers on profitability by 25% and are three to four times more productive. This is attributed to diverse companies’ unique insights, improvements in problem-solving, and enhancement of full and authentic employee engagement.

The pandemic exacerbated employment and training barriers faced by marginalized groups, youth and frontline workers. It’s more crucial than ever for employers to be proactive in cultivating inclusive hiring practices and workplaces. Organizations can combat barriers to employment through efforts such as:

  • Implementing hiring practices that create more diverse pipelines than those that go beyond just depending on inbound applicants and software. More active recruitment tactics such as leveraging more diverse job boards, implementing strong referral programs, creating targeted internships and engaging in relevant industry communities can help organizations identify and remedy the gaps in their talent pools.
  • Enabling efforts for retention and career development by supporting employees’ needs and passions. This might include implementing mentorship and/or sponsorship programs that align with and support equity and inclusion within the organization.
  • Making efforts to deeply understand how employees view diversity and culture within their organization. Organizations must look internally at attitudes, assumptions, norms, values and processes that affect diversity and inclusion, as well as understand the real benefits of having a diverse workforce.
  • Creating working conditions that will sustain cultural change in organizations through creating relevant policies and procedures that advance diversity and inclusion, such as respectful workplace communication; anti-discriminatory hiring practices; equal and fair treatment of all employees regardless of age, sexuality, religious beliefs, language and disabilities; flexible working arrangements and more. It is the responsibility of management on all levels to uphold those policies.

The future of work requires a diverse workforce, inclusive leadership and companies that create and embrace cultures of belonging and dedicate themselves to creating equal opportunity.

Collaboration and partnerships

The creation of vibrant communities and engaged workforces requires true collaboration, partnerships and shared learnings. This requires doing away with internal silos that isolate departments, teams and employees. Silos negatively hinder employees’ ability and motivation to share ideas, knowledge and resources.

“The future of work requires a diverse workforce, inclusive leadership and companies that create and embrace cultures of belonging and dedicate themselves to creating equal opportunity.”

It is also important to create dialogue between different stakeholders and across sectors. An example of this is the integration of employers with their hiring prospects such as students or other members of the community. Many organizations are already actively creating a collaborative environment by working with post-secondary institutions and are making themselves available to students for support throughout their studies and work terms. They understand the importance of co-creating opportunities and are open and generous with their time and advice. Collaboration may also involve efforts connecting jobseekers with employers and organizations in non-traditional ways that encourage participation and equal opportunity to explore the labour market.

Understanding we all have a role to play 

True partnership success involves an understanding that everyone – from jobseekers to institutions to community partners and employers – has a role to play in the future of work and can find ways to meaningfully contribute to that success.

The role of employers and community development agencies is to ensure that everyone has access to meaningful career development opportunities (early and consistently) and remove barriers to these kinds of opportunities for all.

For talent, seeking out networking, learning opportunities and mentorship can help build meaningful connections in communities and careers they wish to pursue. Once established in a job, it’s important for employees to voice their needs to develop, learn and progress in their careers.

The future of work requires well-rounded, engaged individuals and organizations that can adapt and continue to adapt as roles and opportunities shift.

Lifelong learning and mentorship

Futureproofing the workforce also requires a commitment to lifelong learning from all participants. When we’re working with a multi-generational workforce amid the rapid evolution of technology, we need to question what we know and have the humble confidence to challenge our existing understanding. Employers and communities should continue to foster and nurture the workforce’s sense of inquiry and encourage a lifelong learning mindset.

With one in five working adults nearing retirement, there will be a significant knowledge base leaving the workforce. There is a need to build relationships with these professionals, through mentorship or apprenticeship, for instance, so that their learnings, experiences and skillsets can be passed on to different generations.

Mentorship can support the preservation of learnings from older workers and encourage the pursuit of lifelong learning for employers, employees and jobseekers. Employers that create formal mentorship programs can enable a lifelong learning mindset in their workforce.

Creating a future of work for all is a multi-stakeholder, multi-year, multi-pronged approach; it is complex, continuous work that is ever changing. There is value in embracing diversity, encouraging inclusivity, fostering collaborative partnerships and humbly recognizing that we all have a role to play in ensuring that the future of work includes everyone.

Chantal Brine Author
Chantal Brine is a builder – of people and businesses – a believer in experiential learning, a proponent for mentorship, and an active advocate for women. As founder and CEO of EnPoint, Chantal and her team help clients create and maintain effective mentorship programs using their easy-to-use, customizable and fully automated platform. A sought-after speaker, she often talks about the importance of living an authentic life and on the impact of mentorship in advancing one’s career.
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Chantal Brine Author
Chantal Brine is a builder – of people and businesses – a believer in experiential learning, a proponent for mentorship, and an active advocate for women. As founder and CEO of EnPoint, Chantal and her team help clients create and maintain effective mentorship programs using their easy-to-use, customizable and fully automated platform. A sought-after speaker, she often talks about the importance of living an authentic life and on the impact of mentorship in advancing one’s career.
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