Live 2 Lead

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At the Deer Creek Golf & Country Club on November 4, 2015 between 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. the Live 2 Lead event will take place.

Live 2 Lead is a leader development experience designed to equip you with new perspectives, practical tools and key takeaways.
It is the new simulcast event designed to breathe new life into leadership through world-class speakers.

Register for the Live 2 Lead event here.

Skills and Post-Secondary Education Summit: Towards a Skills and PSE Strategy for Canada

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Durham Workforce Authority is pleased to partner with The Conference Board of Canada and CAREERS: The Next Generation to bring you the Skills and Post-Secondary Education Summit: Towards a Skills and PSE Strategy for Canada on November 3-5, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta at a reduced registration fee.

This three day Summit will explore the future of K-12, post-secondary education, and skills development in Canada—including colleges, universities, apprenticeship, and trades training. As a key stakeholder in the K-12 and PSE systems, your voice at the table is important as we work to advance education and the competition that faces Canada today.

The Summit will focus on six recurring themes:

  1. Developing the Skills and Post-Secondary Education Strategy for Canada—How can we build and maintain a world class PSE system that supplies the highly skilled and educated workforce we need?
  2. Transitioning Students into Careers—How can we enhance skills development, apprenticeship, and trades training for successful transitions into work and careers?
  3. Making Systemic Reforms—Who’s doing what to improve the development and deployment of talent at the local, regional, and pan-Canadian levels?
  4. Understanding the “Strategy” in Strategic Investments—What is the objective of Canada’s skills and PSE system? Why are we investing the way we are? What are the top priorities for refinement in these investments?
  5. Re-skilling and Up-skilling Under Represented Populations—How can we engage more immigrants, Aboriginals, youth, mature workers, structurally unemployed individuals, people with disabilities, and women in advanced trades and training programs through PSE to increase the supply of workers in Canada?
  6. Connecting Industry Needs, Educational Programs, and Skilled Talent—How can we better connect the key players to make PSE an engine of high performance for our people and economy?

The Conference Board of Canada is working to develop a Skills and PSE Strategy for Canada, and your input is valuable.   Attend the Summit and take part in consultation sessions and share your ideas to help shape the objectives and actions featured in the Strategy.

The agenda is in the final stages of completion – continue to check back on the Conference Board’s website, and follow #cboceducation on Twitter for up-to-date information!

Use Rebate Code PRM5 when registering to secure your rate of $1495—that’s $500 in savings. Use the online registration system, or contact Emily Hayward at the Conference Board directly at or 613-526-3090 ext. 393 to complete your registration.

DWA Executive Director Nominated for Connect Woman Award

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Durham day photo

Kathy Weiss, Heather McMillan (Centre) Kerry King at Queen’s Park Durham Day

Durham Region – The Durham Workforce Authority is proud to announce that our Executive Director, Heather McMillan has been named as one of four finalists in the connect Woman of the Year.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Whitby Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Moxie Trades, announced the four finalists for the Connect Women Woman of the Year Award 2015.

“The Woman of the Year award, founded by Marissa McTasney of Moxie Trades, recognizes the outstanding business and community achievements of women in Durham Region,” reported Tracy Hanson, Whitby Chamber of Commerce CEO.  “We are really excited to announce the winner at the annual Connect Women event on March 4.”

The Woman of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding business and community achievements of women in Durham Region.  Several nominations for this achievement were received and the Award will be given to the winner at Connect Women, a showcase event, on March 4 at the Ajax Convention Centre.

“I am honoured to be nominated and to have the DWA work recognized in our Region, said Heather McMillan, “I was so surprised to receive the call notifying me of the nomination.”

The Durham Workforce Authority is funded by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to provide local labour market research.  Heather has worked with the DWA for seven years and became the Executive Director four years ago.  She has worked with the Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan to take the organization in a new direction – leading labour market research – namely the skill shed, the youth survey and an autoworkers survey.  She is regularly invited to speak to community organizations, governments and educators.  A strong believer in volunteerism, Heather is a member of the campaign cabinet for Feed the Need.

“The Connect Woman of the Year demonstrates leadership and vision; continually invests in the development and growth of herself and those around her; and consistently gives to her community,” said Tracy Hanson, CEO of the Whitby Chamber of Commerce.

The Connect Women Chamber event connects business women and community leaders from across Durham Region.  The event features keynote speaker, Rebecca Heaslip “You’re Smarter Than You Think” along with a panel of Durham Region entrepreneurs and business women, a dynamic trade show and multiple networking opportunities over lunch.
Sponsored by Moxie Trades Inc., the award was introduced last year at the chamber’s annual Connect Women event, which brings together business women and community leaders from across Durham Region.


For more information; contact the DWA at 905-438-8916 ext. 323


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Ignite 2014 – Spark Centre Opens Applications for its Ignite Startup Competition

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 The 2nd annual competition will award two winners $25,000 each and includes a new category awarding $5,000 to a post-secondary student

Spark Innovation Centre, a not-for-profit organization that offers free services and support to local entrepreneurs has begun accepting applications to its second annual Ignite Competition. Two startup companies will be chosen to win $25,000 to use towards their business.

Last year Ignite saw over 100 companies compete in a rigorous program that involved pitch competitions, a business boot camp and boardroom competition. An expert Power Panel which included former Dragon’s Den star and co-founder of Round 13 Capital, Bruce Croxon and Jason Atkins, President and CEO of 360 Incentives helped choose the five finalists and ultimately the two Ignite winners, Squabble Studios and MobileXCo. Matthew Stephan, CEO of Squabble Studios spoke about the importance of the program; “Ignite is an amazing opportunity for any entrepreneur. It teaches great new skills and helps businesses build meaningful connections.

In 2014, Ignite will focus on innovation, technology, invention and advanced process oriented start-ups. “The success of Ignite 2013 was very evident with over 100 competitors and over 2,000 attendees to watch the various competition events,” said Dennis Croft, Executive Director, Spark Centre. “This year Spark continues to enhance Ignite, bringing in the specific Spark Centre mandate of focusing on technology, invention and advanced process creation oriented companies.”

Local pitch competitions will take place in several cities around Durham Region to broaden our search for high potential startups, and the competition will once again have an expert Power Panel to help with the selection process. Ignite 2014 will also be highlighting new categories which support young entrepreneurs including a special prize of $5,000 to a student currently enrolled in a post-secondary institute in Durham Region.

Startups located anywhere within Canada are eligible to apply, but winners must establish their business within Spark Centre offices in Durham Region. The winners will work closely with the Spark Centre team and have access to Spark’s network of mentors and advisors who will help to accelerate their business.

Applications are available online and must be received by 5:00 p.m. EST on September 12, 2014. Please visit for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.

About Spark Centre: Spark Innovation Centre is one of fourteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit

Trades and the Newcomer

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newcomerIf you are a person who has come to Canada from another country and have the desire to work in the skilled trades, there are excellent resources for you to investigate to assist you in making an informed decision.

canada flagWorking In Canada – is a comprehensive source of information on regulated trades and professions in Canada logo will provide newcomers with information and resources about employment, education and housing that will help them to settle in Ontario.

These Government of Ontario websites includes information on where to get help, internships, evaluating your educational credentials, how to get licensed and also, resources to assist you with English as a second language.

cnd fed economic education logoCanadian Foundation for Economic Education – Newcomers to Canada is a comprehensive website which will provide you with links to key agencies and organizations, organizations that help newcomers to Canada, credential assessment organizations, education and more


Foreign trained tradespersons – there’s a place for you!

If you’re a tradesperson already trained in the skilled trades, in another country, you may be able to obtain recognition of your trade qualifications and experience. This link outlines the requirements.

To learn more, go to: Skills for Change, a service organization working to develop strategies to assist foreign

Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

Immigrating to Canada as a Skilled Worker

World Education (416) 972-0070 or toll-free 1-866-343-0070 World Education Services is recognized and funded, in part, by the Government of Ontario.

International Credentials Assessment Service (ICAS) of

Ontario AgriCentre Toll Free in Canada: 1-800-321-6021

Bridge Training for Skilled Immigrants: The Bridge Training program supports the development and implementation of sustainable projects that expedite licensing and accreditation of qualified immigrants for employment in strategic skills areas. Projects are being developed, and some are already underway, in the construction and precision machining and tooling trades sectors.

For more information call Employment Ontario at 1-800-387-5656 or (416) 326-5656 visit:

Report on Skillshed Pilot Study and A Review of Skillshed Analysis Practices and Outcomes

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Report on Skillshed Pilot Study

This is the report on our Skillshed pilot study funding in part by the Durham Workforce Authority and by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (file #412-2013-2006) under the Knowledge Synthesis Grant: Skills Development for Future Needs of the Canadian Labour Market.

DWA Skillshed Data Summary 2014

A Review of Skillshed Analysis Practices and Outcomes

This project was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council(file # 412-2013-2006) under the Knowledge Synthesis Grants: Skills Development for Future Needs of the Canadian Labour Market competition.

 A Review of Skillshed Analysis Practices and Outcomes







Are the skills employers need available in Canada?

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When trying to find matches for workers and employers, it is unclear whether Canadians have the right skills for the jobs, or whether we need to bring in that skilled labour from outside the country. In a study by Toronto Dominion Bank (Burleton, Gulati, McDonald & Scarfone, 2013) it is suggested that we do in fact have the skills we need right here, the problem is that the jobs and the people with the skills may be mismatched. In other words, those people with the right skills may not be near the jobs that they were trained for. Certain sectors are experiencing rapid growth, such as resources and health care while others are on the decline, such as manufacturing (Burleton et al., 2013). All in all, however, the biggest challenge, as outlined within the study by Toronto Dominion Bank is not the shortage of skilled workers, but the mismatch of these skills (Burleton, Gulati, McDonald & Scarfone, 2013)

We do not currently collect information on the skills people have in Canada, but we do know about our labour force and the skills employers are looking for. Recent attempts in the United States have tried to measure just this: what skills do people have? These studies have been done at the local level and are called skillshed studies. This project being conducted now in Canada is about replicating some of that work, and seeing if this kind of study would help people here, which is exactly what the Durham Workforce Authority (DWA) is looking to do.


Burleton, D., Gulati, S., McDonald, C., & Scarfone, S. (2013). Jobs in Canada: Where, what and for whom? Toronto, ON: TD Economics. Retrieved from

Durham Ideas Den

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Durham Ideas Den logo
The Durham Ideas Den, Durham’s biggest social innovation challenge for young change-makers, is an initiative spearheaded by the Community Innovation Lab, in partnership with Durham College, Indiegogo, Startup Storyboard, MentorCity, Durham Workforce Authority (DWA) and Ashoka Canada. These major players in social innovation have partnered to design a unique challenge for Durham’s young change-makers to design and build ventures for social good. DWA Executive Director, Heather McMillan said, “This is the second year that we have sponsored the Durham Ideas Den, it is a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to get started, have support and have access to seed funding.”

New at the Den this year:

  • More than $12,500 in matching seed funding
    An ideas hack-a-thon
  • A launch factor
  • Crowd funding
  • Seed funding of up to $2,500 per project
  • Access to mentorship


The Den is Durham’s largest Social Entrepreneurial Challenge crowdsourcing student ideas for impact, with students eligible for $12,500 in matching seed funding available for projects with an additional $25,000 available through our partner, the Ashoka Changemakers Challenge.

Interested students can register project ideas with Durham Ideas Den. The Community Innovation Lab will connect students to like-minded peers and the best mentors in the community. It will take students through a series of ideation, collaboration, and venture-building exercises so that students will leave equipped with skills to help launch a bare-bones idea into a real-life social venture.

At the Community Innovation Lab, (Co-ilab), focuses is on mitigating ‘the underemployment crisis’ facing post-secondary youth, by crafting innovative experiential opportunities to engage youth in cross sectoral initiatives that address system failures associated with complex social and environmental challenges within cities, organizations and neighbourhoods. Co-ilab curates a series of community, campus and corporate ideas jams with the citizen sector, students, city and business leaders, to identify and define the big sticky challenges facing communities and to further engage youth in generating creative solutions to transform these ‘traditional liabilities into future assets’.

The deadline to enter the 30 Day Challenge is December 30, 2013.

Durham College Centre for Food

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chefDurham Region has a new learning centre at Durham College offering a full-service, green-certified teaching restaurant and lounge, state-of-the-art labs, classrooms and meeting spaces designed to accommodate approximately 900 new students pursuing careers in the culinary, hospitality, tourism and agriculture sectors.

Durham College’s Centre for Food follows the field-to-fork vision and complete teaching that allows students to use the produce from an on-campus orchard, pollinator garden, greenhouse, demonstrator gardens, a green roof, an agricultural planting zone and an arboretum.

The Durham Workforce Authority was one of more than 300 community groups and individuals that were invited to the Centre’s opening last month.  We were treated to delicious, fresh made food, were able to experience the brand new full-service restaurant, and were surprised to enjoy the musical styling of Greg Keelor.

The College’s Centre for Food offers a full program that includes Bistro 67 , a green-certified teaching restaurant that is open to the public. The menu changes regularly, seasonally and reservations can be made via the Bistro’s website. The College chose the name as a tribute to the year that Durham College opened – 1967.

Not only does the Centre for Food have beautiful cooking labs, it boasts a public-facing retail store that features products produced by students including fresh-baked items, meals-to-go, preserved foods and portion-cut, ready-to-cook meals. When we were at the Centre’s opening, you could purchase some meals and we received local honey – what a special treat!

DWA Researcher Paige Marlow at the Centre for Food

DWA Researcher Paige Marlow at the Centre for Food

Prior to attending the Centre’s recent opening, I knew about the restaurant and I was surprised to discover that Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism students will also have a Hotel lab in the Centre where students can learn about all aspects of the hotel industry in an oversized hotel living lab.  I must admit, I wanted to curl up in that bed.

– Heather McMillan, Executive Director

Nuclear Refurbishment

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2005 Ontario Power Generation

The Ontario government recently announced it was pulling out of its earlier decision to build two new nuclear reactors at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

While that is bad news for many involved in the planning, building and operating aspects of the new build project, it doesn’t mean the end of nuclear work in Durham Region.

The government indicated in its announcement it is moving ahead with refurbishments at Darlington which will extend the life of the current reactors.

“There is a strong consensus that now is not the right time to build new nuclear, and refurbishment is where we should be going,” Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said in a statement.

Nuclear refurbishment is an integral part of Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan and will continue to provide about 50 per cent of Ontario’s electrical needs according to the Canadian Nuclear Association.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters estimates it will cost anywhere from $6 to 10 billion to refurbish the Darlington reactors which will in turn create thousands of well paying jobs in Durham Region. OPG estimates there will be 2 to 3,000 new employees on-site over the 10 year refurbishment period.

This means there will be an expected spike in the demand for engineers, project managers, trades and support workers. Those who win these new jobs can expect to be paid handsomely. According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters the average annual salary per employee is estimated at approximately $92,300 or $47 per hour.

 trades workers

While the news of no new nuclear reactors is disappointing there is still much work to be done refurbishing Darlington’s four remaining reactors.

“Nuclear is the steady, affordable, safe and reliable base-load generator that keeps Ontario running and helps us meet our clean-air commitments,” Heather Kleb, Canadian Nuclear Association president said. “Thanks to nuclear power, Ontario next year will become the first North American province or state to eliminate coal-fired electrical production.”