Challenge 2025 reaches goals halfway through mandate
Welcomes new leadership team and new priorities
Midway through its five-year workforce recovery plan, Mohawk College’s Challenge 2025 initiative has already achieved a number of key goals and is further integrating itself in the community with a new leadership structure.
In May 2019, Mohawk College President and CEO Ron McKerlie announced an ambitious program to address the issues of poverty, under-education, labour shortages, unemployment and underemployment in the Greater Hamilton Area. Challenge 2025 is based on the success of City School by Mohawk, which has delivered access to college education to underrepresented people for the past seven years through community-based classrooms and mobile classrooms in neighbourhoods and communities.
Through its workforce demand-led approach, two of the three ambitious goals of Challenge 2025 have already been achieved. In an effort to further integrate with existing community resources and increase its impact, the initiative has been restructured to include the leadership of Khadija Hamidu, Executive Director of Workforce Planning Hamilton, and Sara Gill, Executive Director of the Adult Basic Education Association. They will serve as co-chairs of Challenge 2025 moving forward and the founding co-chairs, Bill Young and Ron McKerlie, will continue to serve in advisory roles.
|Goal||Current status (July 2022)|
|· 4,000 learners (3,000 through transitional pathways)||· 2,500 learners reached|
|· 100 regional employers||· 100+ employers engaged|
|· Partner with other communities across Canada||· alliance of 4 colleges has delivered Material Handling 4.0 to 143 students in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia|
“Working with our valued community and education partners, a great deal has been accomplished in the first half of our mandate. I am confident, under this new leadership structure, even more good work will be done,” said McKerlie. “Mohawk College remains deeply committed to supporting this important community-driven initiative and the people and employers involved, for the good of our community and communities across the country.”
“City School reaches marginalized and under-represented communities and provides them with supportive training and job-specific skills that are in demand in today’s labour market. It also facilitates direct access to employers that are committed to hiring people with these skillsets. Challenge 2025 broadened the scope and scale of that demand-led approach,” said Young, Founder and Chairman of Social Capital Partners. “The success of this initiative in Hamilton and other cities can serve as a template for how skills training should be delivered at a system-wide level and has the potential to make generational change for thousands of people who face employment barriers.”
Transition to community-based leadership
From its inception, Challenge 2025 was intended to be a community-centred, community-owned initiative. While the initiative was first led by Mohawk College, the expressed goal has always been to nurture the initiative to more directly involve other community organizations and leaders.
Moving forward, Hamidu will lead the Challenge 2025 Employer Supports Action Team, which will leverage partners and support employers for their workforce needs. And Gill will lead the Challenge 2025 Employee Supports Action Team, with a goal to support learners with the necessary skills and to reduce barriers to education on the way to entering the workforce. The Challenge 2025 Secretariat will continue to be based at Mohawk College.
“I am very excited to continue our partnership with Mohawk College and the Challenge 2025 initiative as we embark on Employer Education,” said Hamidu. “Being able to provide meaningful resources on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to our local employers has been a top priority between both organizations. Our goal is to help employers with the most up-to-date Labour Market Information that will better serve their businesses and overall workplace culture.”
“Challenge 2025 leverages the expertise and passion of community partners and community members to achieve social impact. The Employee Pathways Action Team is working to create a safe and supportive space for participants that focuses on wellness, building confidence and moving forward,” said Gill.
Establishing new priorities
With two of the initial three goals complete, a number of new priorities have been established for Challenge 2025, focusing more on employer engagement and intensive learner supports. New priorities include:
· Micro-credentialing strategy - Support the development of a comprehensive strategy for offering micro-credential for participants.
· New Ontario Works partnership - Coordinate and implement specific education and training activities designed to engage local residents in Ontario Works and ODSP programs.
· Rapid Skills Training Lab - Execute programs through the newly established Rapid Skills Training Lab at Mohawk College in The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation.
· Indigenous Workforce Development Strategy - Support the development, coordination and implementation of an Indigenous-led strategy focused on workforce opportunity and community prosperity.
Challenge 2025 Secretariat
Mohawk College will continue to support Challenge 2025 with representation on the Action Teams and through the ongoing work of the Challenge 2025 Secretariat, providing course development and delivery and ongoing day-to-day administration.
Mohawk College educates and serves more than 29,500 full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and international students at three main campuses in Hamilton, Ontario and learning hubs across Hamilton through City School by Mohawk, and at the College’s Centre for Aviation Technology at the Hamilton International Airport. Mohawk is among the top five colleges for applied research in Canada. It has been named one of Canada’s greenest employers seven years in a row, holds a GOLD STARS rating from AASHE for sustainability achievements and is home to the country’s largest and first institutional building to receive dual certification for Zero Carbon Building Framework design and performance for The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation. More than 135,000 people have graduated from Mohawk since it was founded.