Entries in Fleming College (2)


Learning not just for students at Community Innovation Forum

The 2015 Community Innovation Forum (CIF) was another great success.  The Forum is an annual student showcase of applied learning and community-based research projects hosted by Fleming College, Trent University, Trent Community Research Centre and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.  The students are from Trent University and Fleming College and this year there were 54 projects in total on display. 

I have attended the event for the past two years and this year I was honoured to be asked to be a judge for the Fleming College projects.  Fleming’s Applied Learning Projects were from four programs: International Trade, Marketing, Computer Technology and Wireless Information Technology.   

Clipboard in hand, I and my judging mates (Gary and Rob from Bell) set out to speak with the students about their projects.  We were to look at the project through the lens of innovation.  How did the students use innovation to find a solution for their client?  

It became clear that for each group innovation meant something a bit different.  In many cases it involved digital media, e.g. use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, or a tangible such as a machine, device or a new program.  We also met students who felt innovation was simply a new way of approaching a problem.   

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “innovation” as: 

  1. The introduction of something new
  2. A new idea, method, or device  

I found that I was most interested in hearing how the students created their plan. What did they think about, how well did they know their client, how did they arrive at the solution, and how did they deal with obstacles encountered along the way?  We found some unique thinkers and some not-so unique thinkers.  

“Applied projects help to prepare students to be high performers in their careers and stimulate their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Raymond Yip Choy, Fleming faculty coordinator of the International Business Management and Project Management Programs. “Their participation in the CIF event helps them showcase their accomplishments, gain confidence and build their network.”

I hope that whether students walked away with prizes or not, they learned something about themselves, that they learned how they worked in a group setting; whether or not they have the entrepreneurial spirit.  

The Community Innovation Forum is not just a presentation of school projects.  It’s an opportunity for students to connect with employers and employers to connect with students.  This opportunity is evident between students and the clients for which the projects are completed and those who come to view and judge the projects.  

It’s an important connection to foster between Trent and Fleming and the larger Peterborough community.

A report released last fall by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce titled “A Battle We Can’t Afford to Lose: Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment” speaks directly to the need for students to feel connected to the working world and employers connected to students.   

“We have to do a better job of preparing young people for the labour market,” remarks Perrin Beatty, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

One way to do that is to prepare the labour market for the students by understanding the skills needed in our economy to propel it forward and providing students the opportunity to learn those skills.  

The CCC report identifies three key areas for successful transition:

  1. Labour market information
  2. Career decision making 
  3. Work integrated learning

An observation I made as a judge is that the Community Innovation Forum is a transition point for students.  They spend months working on their project and now they have to transition from a project focus to using their soft skills such as people skills, relationship building and communication to effectively describe their project and the hard work that went into it to judges.  

A study in the CCC report from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives shows that for entry-level hiring those soft skills are most desirable.  That said, you could call the Community Innovation Forum a job interview, whether it’s for an employer or a potential client.  

The Community Innovation Forum is also the result of months of work integrated learning.  As it stands it is a great example of employer/student collaboration, but how can we improve the program?  What are the opportunities for local businesses to participate?  Do local businesses have projects that would fit with this concept and how do we open the door further to those conversations?  

Hopefully, we just did.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 


Building bridges between business and post-secondary education

The report from the Canadian Chamber “A Battle We Can’t Afford to Lose: Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment” comes at a time when not only is Canada as a whole struggling with a skills shortage, but so are its individual provinces and municipalities. The issues of skills, young workers and preparing for a large cohort of retirees have been a very large part of discussions around the future of Peterborough. 

The Chamber’s involvement: 


  • In May of 2012, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) hosted an Ontario Economic Leadership Series roundtable. One of several recommendations was continuing to build bridges between Fleming College, Trent University and the business community. 
  • In November of 2013, the Young Professionals Group hosted a policy forum discussion around youth unemployment and under-employment. Result: Call for a more cohesive strategy on jobs in Peterborough. 
  • At the recent Chamber, DBIA and Women’s Business Network Mayoral Debate candidates spoke of a desire to integrate students of Trent and Fleming into the downtown and by extension the business community. 
  • There is talk of an Entrepreneurship Centre at Trent through the Trent Business Council. 
  • The Chamber currently offers student memberships to Trent University and Fleming College. These are distributed by the educational institutions to help aspiring business students to start building career contacts prior to graduation. 
  • The Chamber is planning to hold a Business Summit in 2015, with the Young Professionals Group spearheading the event. 


The Canadian Chamber of Commerce report begins with the following letter from President and CEO Perrin Beatty. 

As Canada comes to terms with its skills challenges and the numbers of unemployed and under-employed workers, employers, educators and governments are facing great uncertainty about whether we will have enough graduates in high-demand fields or with the skills most sought after. 

If Canada is to successfully tackle its skills gap and ensure its economic growth, we have to give special attention to the largest cohort of labour force entrants each year: young people. 

The skills issue facing youth is the focus of great concern. Canada’s results in international education surveys have been mixed. Our highly-educated youth may still be falling short of the skills needed for our economy to succeed. Without action, this shortage is likely to increase in future as labour market needs continue to evolve. 

Youth unemployment rates have also remained high in the post-recession period, prompting the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to study youth employment and table a report in June 2014. Across the country, there is a growing understanding that closing the skills gap means better aligning our education and training systems to our labour market needs. It is a concern that led the federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, to organize a mission to Germany, Europe’s strongest labour market where the “dual training” system enables post-secondary students to segue seamlessly into employment via apprenticeships across 350 occupations. 

At a national skills summit in June 2014, a strong consensus emerged on the need for better labour market information to help youth connect to available jobs and for more responsiveness in the educational system to labour market needs. Three weeks after that summit, provincial-territorial education and labour market ministers jointly hosted a skills symposium with stakeholders to similarly probe improving education-employment linkages. 

“We have to do a better job in preparing young people for the labour market,” is a common refrain among key players on this topic. For Canadian youth, it is essential the education or training they get is relevant to the job market they will enter. First, they need to know where the jobs will be. Second, they need to know what those jobs will be so they can plan their education and training accordingly. Third, they need education that is not just job training but equips them to be adaptable. 

Employers do not always provide clear and strong signals to youth. That needs to change, and this report explores how to improve it. At every step of this discussion on youth, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been engaged with government and stakeholders. With our members in both the employer and educator communities, the Canadian Chamber brings a demand-meets-supply perspective to the need for better labour market information and improving connections between business and post-secondary education. 

With this report, we investigate the state of key factors affecting youth’s successful transition to employment in Canada: 

  1. Labour market information 
  2. Career decision-making 
  3. Work-integrated learning 

Let us do our best to help young people make more informed decisions on their future education and the skills they need. Let us give them the best opportunities to find employment in Canada's dynamic economy. 

The report makes 14 recommendations around the broader topics over improved labour market information (LMI) and work-integrated learning and skills development. 

Full Report

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.