Concordia partners to launch FUSION, the first national skills-development innovation network
A new national project initiated by Concordia aims to make students graduating with a university degree ready for a world marked by rapid change.
FUSION, the Future Skill Innovation Network, includes five other member universities: Simon Fraser, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Carleton and Memorial. Together, they are looking for ways to provide students with the skills they need to thrive in the real world.
The initiative is one of six projects unveiled by Canada's Future Skills Centre today.
Concordia Provost and Vice-President, Academic Graham Carr, says universities have to better equip students with technical know-how and soft skills they can translate into success.
“In today’s rapidly changing, globalized economy, many employers are shifting toward skills-based hiring,” Carr says.
“FUSION is an important experiment to advance such outcomes. It aligns perfectly with Concordia’s long tradition of building educational pathways that prepare students for the realities of life after graduation.”
The Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre is investing $2.5 million to support FUSION’s network model for an initial two years. Pilot projects will focus on building inclusive forms of skills development through three main priorities:
- Integrating more skills development into formal and informal learning
- Creating more flexible learning formats to better facilitate skills acquisition
- Increasing access to, and success within, post-secondary education for underrepresented students, such as Indigenous, disabled and racialized students, and women in STEM fields
Filling an important gap
FUSION’s work will benefit approximately 1,500 students enrolled in for-credit programs in its first two years. The network aims to open pathways into university education by partnering with primary and secondary schools, colleges and CEGEPs, employment centres, non-profit organizations and government-funded programs.
FUSION will also contribute research, data, methodologies and program formats to the Future Skills Centre ecosystem.
Vice-Provost of Innovation, Teaching and Learning Sandra Gabriele is Concordia's campus lead for FUSION. She points out that, in addition to innovating and sharing new skills-training methods, the network itself fills an important gap.
“It’s Canada’s first cross-institutional sharing initiative focused on developing the workforce skills that are so critical to Canada’s international competitiveness and, therefore, the employment of our next generation,” Gabriele says.
“We’re proud to have started this network and are already collaborating with our partners to co-design future projects.”
Melanie Wright, interim executive director of the Future Skills Centre, is thrilled to be partnering with Concordia and other universities across Canada on FUSION.
"This project will work towards supporting young Canadians in gaining access to new skills and will contribute to a growing evidence base in skills development research," Wright says.
Find out more about Concordia’s Teaching and Learning priorities.