Preparing the workers of today for the jobs of tomorrow

Recipient: Palette Skills Inc.
Region: Windsor-Essex and Durham regions
Stream: Regional Innovation Ecosystem
Total funding allocated: $5 million

Palette Inc.’s SalesCamp helps connect fast-growing companies with the talent they need to succeed and grow in today's innovation economy.
Palette Inc.’s SalesCamp helps connect fast-growing companies with the talent they need to succeed and grow in today's innovation economy.

New technologies and automation are quickly changing Canada's labour market. These changes are both exciting and challenging for Canadians to navigate. As the innovation economy grows, workers in traditional fields are faced with changing skills demands and a changing job market. 

Palette Skills Inc., a Toronto-based not-for-profit, helps Canadian workers navigate these changes with a new approach to skills training. Palette brings industry, workers and training providers together to open doors for workers in growing industries. Palette runs rapid upskilling programs that prepare workers for new and promising career opportunities. They do so by working with companies in growing sectors to identify high-demand jobs they are struggling to fill, then partnering with training providers to create programs that provide participants with the skills they need to transition into new kinds of work. Armed with their existing experience and expertise along with new skills and connections, workers are matched with jobs in growing industries.

"We're creating new pathways for mid-career workers to use their existing skills and talents to access new opportunities in the digital economy," says A.J. Tibando, Executive Director of Palette. "Palette's programs are going to help connect fast-growing companies with the talent they need to succeed and grow in today's innovation economy, while ensuring that workers are equipped with the skills needed to succeed in our rapidly changing job market."

Palette recently completed its second cohort of SalesCamp—a pilot project run in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to help mid-career workers develop new skills to transition into the growing industry of business-to-business (B2B) sales roles. To date, Palette has upskilled 40 workers in the GTA through this program. In the first cohort, 85 percent of participants received at least one job offer within eight weeks of completing the program.

One of SalesCamp's first graduates was Alicia Haber, who transitioned from the automotive industry into a B2B sales role at one of the GTA's fastest growing tech companies—Top Hat.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, her family's car dealership business, which she had been groomed to take over, was forced to close up shop. After months of reaching out to employers, applying for jobs and not hearing much back, she decided to give SalesCamp a shot. Through the program, Alicia was able to meet employers and gain the foundational skills needed to make a switch to a new and growing career in tech sales.

"I learned a lot throughout the journey, and it definitely helped me get to where I am now," she says. "It was more than just a month of training. We built a community," says Haber.

Recognizing the success of Palette's SalesCamp pilot in the GTA, FedDev Ontario invested $5 million to support Palette in bringing its unique model to the Windsor-Essex and Durham regions. Launching in 2020, this project will fill 220 jobs and support 100 companies over the next three years. The program will address labour shortages specifically in the advanced manufacturing and information and communications technology sectors in the two transitioning regions.

"We have empowered a great number of SalesCamp's participants to build new skills and land exciting and growing jobs," says Tibando. "We will use the learnings from the recent Toronto pilot and apply them to the Windsor and Durham regions."

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We are delighted that FedDev Ontario is investing to help some of our fastest growing companies find the talent they need through Palette's proven upskilling programs. Palette is a world-leader in developing innovative strategies for transitioning mid-career workers threatened by automation into high-potential careers, and we look forward to bringing our model into Southern Ontario communities.
Arvind Gupta, Chair of Palette's Board of Directors
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