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Four colleges partner to deliver workforce training in goods movement and supply chain sector

City School program offers participants across Canada industry-driven training, individualized student support, and pathways to employment

Four colleges from across Canada have partnered to support economic recovery in their regions with the launch of a new industry training program in the supply chain sector, funded by the Future Skills Centre and developed by City School by Mohawk.

Nova Scotia Community College, Mohawk College, Red River College and Vancouver Community College have partnered to deliver the Material Handling 4.0 pilot program, designed to help people transition into careers in the supply chain sector. The program builds upon the successful training model used by Mohawk College’s City School initiative in Hamilton, combining industry-driven training, individualized student support, and practical work experience to provide comprehensive training services to people who face barriers to employment and education.

Upon completion of the program, participants receive a micro-credential and employment services to help them successfully transition into long-term, stable employment.

The Material Handling 4.0 pilot program will provide participants with six weeks of industry-specific instruction and a two-week paid work placement, complete with wrap-around supports, such as child care, all required PPE and supplies for work safety, and referrals to support services (legal clinics, housing, health, etc.). This program will provide training for 243 people across the four participating colleges. Mohawk begins its first local cohort of the program today, and the partner colleges will launch their cohorts starting in Fall 2021.

Future Skills Centre (FSC) announced an initial investment of $1.95 million in the first phase of the program at Mohawk College in 2020 to develop and establish the program in the Hamilton area. Today, it is announcing an additional $1.1 million to expand the program to the three additional communities across Canada.

“As we continue to recover from COVID-19, our government is helping jobseekers up-skill and re-skill to fill in demand jobs. Mohawk College’s Material Handling 4.0 project is helping workers transition into new job opportunities within the supply chain sector,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough. “Further investments through the Future Skills Centre will allow new partnerships to expand the project’s reach and continue this important work.”

“Employers in the supply chain sector are suffering from labour shortages and disruptive technologies have left some workers behind,” said Ron McKerlie, President and CEO of Mohawk College. “The City School by Mohawk model has had proven success in creating pathways to meaningful employment in Hamilton over the past five years. We are grateful that our partner colleges have chosen to adapt this successful model to train people for supply chain job opportunities in their regions.”

“Thank you to the Future Skills Centre and Mohawk College for the opportunity to become one of the four colleges across Canada to train individuals for the supply chain sector,” says Ajay Patel, President and CEO, Vancouver Community College. “This program model, delivered by VCC in the heart of the city, aligns perfectly with our values of providing community-based education and training to those who need it the most.”

“We’re truly looking forward to working with Mohawk College to pilot its innovative City School model in our province,” says Anna Burke, VP, Academic, Nova Scotia Community College. “This collaborative work will allow us to quickly harness educational resources for a unique training opportunity - addressing a critical workforce need and opening a pathway to under-represented, equity-seeking communities.”

“Red River College is committed to building more pathways for our students – especially our Indigenous, newcomer, and immigrant learners – to move from classroom to career with the human and technical skills they need to access gainful employment, all while helping to rebuild the Manitoba economy,” said Dr. Christine Watson, VP Academic and Research, Red River College. “We are thrilled to join this partnership for the Material Handling 4.0 pilot program, which will help us continue to fill workforce needs in the growing supply chain and logistics sector here in Manitoba, and we thank the Future Skills Centre and Mohawk College for this opportunity.”

We are pleased to support the expansion of this program,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre. “We know that employers in the supply chain and material handling sector face labour shortages, while workers need to acquire different, more technical skills to meet the demands of this evolving industry. This learning model has demonstrated promise and fills a gap in the skills ecosystem around the need to connect post-secondary education with workforce development to support career advancement. Rolling out this program to strong partners in different regions will support workers, employers and industries to adapt effectively to these changes in order to thrive in the economy of the future.”

“We appreciate the investment from the Future Skills Centre in recognizing the importance of a skilled workforce in the much-needed function of materials handling,” said Pat Campbell, Vice President at Supply Chain Canada. Supply Chain Canada supports post-secondary institutions as they provide the full spectrum of education and training needed to work as practitioners and professionals. “Across warehousing and distribution, there is a chasm that needs to be addressed – especially now. And we’re glad to have the opportunity of expanding our existing partnerships with Mohawk College, Nova Scotia Community College, Red River College and Vancouver Community College as they take this important step to address a growing need.”



Material Handling 4.0 Background

  • Partnering colleges include Vancouver Community College (BC), Red River College (MB), Nova Scotia Community College (NS) and led by Mohawk College (ON)
  • 243 people across Canada will benefit from programming through this initiative
  • Investment totaling $3.05 million from the Future Skills Centre
  • The project will bring the City School model of community-based, tuition-free training to three new communities across Canada
  • Partner colleges were selected for their connections to the community, employers and the local opportunities within the supply chain sector
  • All participants will be provided with wrap-around supports, including a dedicated employment consultant for the program, provisions for child care services, PPE and appropriate referrals to support services
  • The program will train adults who are not currently enrolled in post-secondary education, who have been historically under-represented or under-served in their local communities
  • The program will consist of a six-week virtual training component, followed by a two-week paid placement with a local employer
  • Mohawk is set to launch its first cohort of Material Handling 4.0 to the Hamilton community in May 2021, with partner colleges following in the fall of 2021
  • Supported by FSC’s evaluation partner, Blueprint ADE, the program will also conduct research to understand the necessary conditions for replicating a community-based education model such as City School by Mohawk in diverse communities


The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada, and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.

The Material Handling 4.0 project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre. Le projet Material Handling 4.0 est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada.