Building scientific capacity and a new generation of researchers (Host: SK)
Advances in technology and increasing digitalization, before and exacerbated during the pandemic, have led to higher demand for advanced skills sets. To build the future of work, we need to empower a new generation of researchers by nurturing talent and creating opportunities for career development.
We encourage you to check out the organizations listed above and watch the recording of the session to form your own opinion on what stands out for you.
Here is our summary of key takeaways from the session:
1. What comes to mind when you think about ‘building future ready communities’?
Bridging research and practice is crucial for the future of work; we need to create best practices that practitioners can actually use to create and foster concrete, transformational change.
We have a role in creating impact in our organizations. To do this we need to include more stakeholders into the conversation because breaking down silos of information is essential across organizations. The Future Skills Center and Diversity Institute works with stakeholders to find inclusive solutions that are actionable for their partners.
The interaction between research and practice, as well as between businesses, government, professional association, etc. creates space where we can build inclusive solutions to have everyone on more equal footing.
Continuous learning is extremely important. When you graduate, you are not done learning, it’s just the beginning!
We need to plan for the present and future at the same time, and maintain an agile and flexible mindset because we can plan as best we can, but everything is just a guessing game until we actually experience it.
Inclusive innovation and inclusive research are important concepts that we need to talk about.
When we think about funding the next generation of researchers in organizations, we need to change the way we define things.
We talk about technology all the time and governments pour money into technology, but we tend to view technology as predominantly male and so the pipeline into tech jobs ended up reflecting that. So we need to redefine what technology is, and how it is viewed.
If you Google search “Entrepreneur”, what is the image of a typical entrepreneur that comes up? We need to consider how to redefine entrepreneurship in a way that is inclusive and incorporates Indigenous entrepreneurs, women and racial minorities into this definition.
A theme to consider when thinking about the future is climate change. Climate change is the single largest mega-trend that any of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. We know that the planet is changing, that weather and climate change can have real disastrous effects on the community, so we need to do something about it.
To better plan for the future and to mitigate climate change, we require people, research, science and economics. The more we can understand what the future looks like, the more accurate our predictions become, and this will enable us to better target our solutions and build resilient communities.
While we face many challenges today, such as the increasing cost of food and oil, we must remember to not lose sight of the issues that we will face due to climate change.
We have to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of organizations, governments, and individuals in order to better shape our environment for future generations. We tend to view economic development above all, without ever considering the environmental impact that that’s having on our planet and on our country.
As researchers, we have to incorporate principles of sustainability in everything that we do. We need to think about how our research contributes to the community, and how we can share knowledge and best practices so that we can leave the planet better than the way we found it.
2. What is the most memorable “success story” or “lesson learned” you’ve experienced when you think about how your organization/group has contributed to ‘building future ready communities’?
During the global pandemic learning loss became a high concern as students, particularly those from low income and marginalized groups, became unable to attend a classroom setting, i.e., not all students can switch over to a virtual mode of learning as reliable internet is not equally accessible.
In May 2020, when it became apparent that the pandemic was not short-term, Diversity Institute created the Study Buddy Program. This free, innovative program provides critical support to parents struggling to balance the responsibilities of work by connecting families from equity-deserving communities with one-on-one, interactive online tutoring support while working to remove barriers to high-quality, individualized education for K-12 students in Ontario. The program was a perfect marriage of teacher candidates that needed practicum hours and students who did not necessarily have the ability to afford a tutor. To date, Study Buddy has provided over 11,500 hours of high-quality, subject-specific tutoring support to 400+ students from 300+ families.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with the Future Skills center on Unleashing learning management systems. The project aims to implement a national platform that allows chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country to offer SMEs both top-down and bottom-up content curation opportunities, and provides access to a host of training resources that can support their recruitment and skill development needs.
One of the biggest impacts researchers can have is by publishing a paper; we have a role in helping them bring their research or innovation to the market where it can scale.
The Ocean Frontier Institute has developed a unique opportunity for those embarking on a Masters or PhD: OGEN – The Ocean Graduate Excellence Network. Uniting excellent graduate training with industry and government, OGEN builds a research nexus, poised to shape the future of ocean research and the ocean workforce in Canada and beyond.
OGEN helps researchers do more than just science, e.g., through study programs such as science-communication – because science isn’t finished until it’s communicated. This would include development in speaking to the public, policy makers, etc., that you would not necessarily learn in a school.
The Ocean Frontier Institute has also developed programs such as:
Lab2Market – a program delivered across 5 Universities in Canada each with a unique focus with a common goal of helping researchers think like entrepreneurs. Lab2Market is a 16 week program to help researchers validate their ideas with the purpose of finding business/commercial value.
Ocean School – a free online educational experience that sits at the intersection of science, education, and storytelling. It combines leading-edge educational technology, with inspiring visuals and forward-thinking approaches to create compelling and integrated learning experiences. The program also provides an opportunity for mentorship.
3. In your view, what do you see as the primary role that each of us has to play in building future ready communities?
We have to find ways in which we continue to share knowledge and build evaluation into programming. We need to ensure that all of our work is asking the fundamental questions of: Is this working? Who is this working for? How can we make this better for all while keeping in mind sustainability?
Organizations have to create funding opportunities and remove barriers by building in equity as a fundamental part of the grant/award process.
There are some things that society needs to also grapple with, for example, how do we ensure young girls can actually build careers in these streams?
However, if we call it a “digital skill”, it will automatically exclude a number of people, so we need to reconceptualize how we think about some of these things that inadvertently exclude newcomers.
From an ocean industry lens, we need to help everyone around the world understand that the oceans are really important to what they’re doing every day. If you like to breathe, eat, or shop, you depend on the oceans; every second breadth of oxygen actually comes from the ocean, a lot of food comes from the ocean, and when we shop around 90% of traded goods are carried over the ocean.
Educating people about the ocean sector helps them understand the different types of careers in the industry. Additionally, by making those not involved in the ocean industry aware of its importance, solutions to future challenges can better take it into account and create greater impact.
We need to aggregate knowledge and have people critically thinking and asking questions.
It’s important for us to gather better data that is more diverse and inclusive, but also specific to industries and regions because there is no one size fits all solution for the future.
Our role is also to create actionable knowledge that is really specific for different groups of people based on demographic groups, industry, region, sector, in terms of access as well.
For decision makers, it’s important that we understand Canada’s changing demographics and the impact climate change will have all around the world. Canada is in a unique position to be a leader and we really need to step up for the sake of our collective futures.
4. What would be your biggest piece of advice to talent in Canada trying to start and/or advance their careers and navigate the future of work?
Don’t be afraid to go down a path that you don’t know where you’re headed.
Mentors are a valuable resource and guide when considering your future career path.
Network is a key aspect in learning about and opening up new opportunities.
We need to remove opacity about what it means to work in science by talking to more people and asking questions.
In terms of what to study, it has been more common to do deep expertise in a master’s or PHD, but consider a bundled experience where you study two different areas (not super broad multidisciplinary, and not super deep in one area) that become a force multiplier. For example, a double major in economics and sustainability, biology and policy, or environmental science and law can help create real impact.
Challenge yourself, embrace diverse perspectives, and adapt an agile mindset.
5. What are some resources, books, Ted Talks, or podcasts, that have been instrumental in shaping your view on the future of work?
Key take-aways that stood out in the conversation were the value of life-long learning and the impact of climate change on future generations. We often underestimate or do not even consider environmental factors, but incorporating principles of sustainability in all the work that we do is critical to build a better future of work.
Another theme that resonated strongly with the panelists was the need for inclusive and actionable research. It’s important for us to better understand the impact our research can have on the community. We need to bridge the gap between research and practice, while creating equal opportunities for all and cultivating space for curiosity, exploration and passion as the new generation of researchers build their careers and develop their skill sets.
Guiding discussion questions:
What steps has your organization taken to help in building scientific capacity and/or support a new generation of researchers? What’s worked? What’s failed horribly?
What benchmarks, success stories and/or resources discussed by the panelists can you adapt/apply to your organization and/or community?
Have you found a particularly helpful resource related to the theme of building scientific capacity and a new generation of researchers?
Mohamed is the Executive Director of the Diversity Institute. The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Mohamed hold a PhD in Information Systems at University of Cape Town. Prior to this, Mohamed completed his thesis Masters of Arts in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and an Honour Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Brunswick.
Ted Rogers School of Management’s Diversity Institute, Toronto Metropolitan University
The Diversity Institute (DI) conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Their action-oriented, evidence-based approach is advancing knowledge of the complex barriers faced by underrepresented groups, leading practices to effect change, and producing concrete results.
Founded in 1999 by Dr. Wendy Cukier, the DI has conducted groundbreaking research on diversity and inclusion in Canada, developed impactful programs like the Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub, championed legislative change on Bill C-25 and has helped companies understand the opportunities of inclusion and develop tools to harness inclusion as a driver for success. DI is leading the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and is a partner in the Future Skills Centre, external link, opens in new window.
Eric has worked at the intersection of ocean science, technical innovation, and international business for twenty years. He has held director and founder positions in global ocean technology companies leading teams in sales, marketing, business development, product development, and advanced manufacturing. Eric is a demonstrated growth leader with market depth, customer touch, and technical expertise, with extensive experience working in North America, Europe, the UK, and Asia. Eric serves as the Chief Innovation Officer at Canada’s Ocean Frontier Institute and the Executive in Residence at the Creative Destruction Lab, as well as Strategic Advisor for international ocean technology companies. He was appointed to the UN Ocean Decade Technology & Innovation Informal Working Group and sits on the board of directors at Sustainable Oceans Applied Research and Sail Nova Scotia. Eric is trained in physical oceanography, naval architecture and marine engineering, and earned an MBA with a focus on leadership, innovation, and global business. When not helping ocean scientists and companies, Eric is an active sailor, having crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on his small boats, and is now racing Bluenose Class Sloops with his family in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Ocean Frontier Institute
The Ocean Frontier Institute, established in 2016, is a partnership led by Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and University of Prince Edward Island. The Institute is now an international entity administering the Canada First Research Excellence Fund — The Safe and Sustainable Development of the Ocean Frontier, the Ocean Graduate Excellence Network (OGEN), Ocean School, and the North Atlantic Carbon Observatory (NACO).
OFI’s ocean research focuses on changes and solutions; Their research examines key aspects of atmosphere-ocean interaction, resulting ocean dynamics, and shifting ecosystems, and focuses on effective approaches to resource development that are sustainable, globally competitive, societally acceptable, and resilient to change.
Simon Blanchette has been a Senior research associate with the Diversity Institute and Future Skills Centre for several years working on the organization’s seminal DiversityLeads project, the Diversity Assessment of the Superclusters (for ISED) as well as a range of projects for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and with various partners including the Government of Canada, the Black Business Professional Association, BMO, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. He has presented his work in prestigious international conferences, such as the Academy of Management Annual Meeting and the European Group on Organization Studies Annual International Colloquium. Simon is an Adjunct lecturer in management in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University and the John Molson School of Management. He is the coauthor of several recent studies (and upcoming studies) on women and work as well as training gaps and skills gaps in SMEs, and also has previous experience as a consultant and executive educator. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and Master of Science in Management (specialized in Strategy) from HEC Montreal, where his thesis focused on creative ideation and innovation.
Toronto Metropolitan University
Toronto Metropolitan University is at the intersection of mind and action. They champion diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation, and are dedicated to creating a culture of action. As Canada’s leader in innovative and career-oriented education, they believe that education and experience go hand-in-hand. What their students learn in the classroom is enhanced by real-world knowledge through internships and co-ops, or amplified through zone learning, specialized minors and graduate programs.