Wolfville, NS – Today the Future Skills Centre (FSC) announced the investment of $1.5 million to support the establishment of the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL), a unique partnership among Atlantic industry, academic, and government partners to address the significant future skills needs of the bioscience sector in Canada. CASTL is one of 30 projects, out of hundreds of submissions, to receive funding as part of a $37-million investment to help employers find workers with the skills they need and to support Canadians in acquiring those in-demand skills.
CASTL is a unique initiative that was collaboratively developed between academia, industry and provincial government. Its founding academic and industry partners are Acadia University, BioTalent Canada, BioVectra, Community College of New Brunswick, Elanco, Holland College, National Research Council, Prince Edward Island BioAlliance, Sekisui Diagnostics, Université de Moncton, and University of Prince Edward Island.
CASTL addresses the significant talent needs in bioscience, a sector of national interest as exemplified by the Government of Canada's Health and Bioscience Economic Strategy Table (HBEST) that identified skills and talent as a fundamental gap for the future prosperity of the sector. CASTL offers a highly innovative approach by launching multiple streams for learners to acquire technical and professional skills, as well as the theoretical knowledge to be work-ready in the bioscience sector. Learners include students developing their careers, individuals seeking to reskill for a career change, and workers upskilling to address the future needs of employers and in Canada post COVID19.
"The Future Skills Canada funding will allow us to take this exciting initiative to the next level," said Dr. Suzie Currie, Dean of Acadia's Faculty of Pure and Applied Science. "Our vision is to train and educate the next generation of highly skilled bioscience/biotechnology professionals at Acadia by building on our relationships with colleges in the region. The goal of the alliance is to marry a liberal arts education in pure and applied science with industry-specific, applied science attributes. Biosciences and biotechnology are exciting, emerging sectors in the Annapolis Valley across our region and Acadia is thrilled to be an integral part of their expansion.
Acadia students will graduate with significant leadership and work-integrated-learning experience as well as a firm grounding in fundamental and skills-based science and competencies, making them well qualified to enter the workforce directly.
FSC's support of projects such as CASTL is urgently needed to address the devastating economic fallout from COVID-19, which has dramatically affected the jobs and workplaces of millions of Canadians.
"CASTL will provide industry with access to talent to drive economic recovery," said Oliver Technow, Chief Executive Officer, BioVectra. "This will fuel the sustainable growth of bioscience research, development and manufacturing by infusing the necessary top-talent, as well as attract new businesses and investment capital to Canada."
Delivered by the academic partners and through strategic partnerships with globally renowned organizations, CASTL programs will include embedded professional skills and work-integrated learning opportunities. Learning will be advanced across all educational levels, including technical diplomas and certificates, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctorates, as well as internships and residencies. The programs will cover several areas of specialization, including bioprocessing, natural products chemistry, analytics, diagnostics, food science, and animal, fish, aquatic, and environmental health.
Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, has long been recognized as one of Canada's premier post-secondary institutions. With its nationally and internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate research initiatives, small classes, and technology-rich teaching and learning environment, Acadia offers students an experience that includes academic achievement combined with personal growth and development. Acadia also offers distance learning, certificate programs, language training and other university extension programs through Open Acadia.
Future Skills Centre is a forward-thinking research and collaboration hub dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success and meeting the emerging talent needs of employers. As a pan-Canadian community, FSC brings together experts and organizations across sectors to rigorously identify, assess, and share innovative approaches to develop the skills needed to drive prosperity and inclusion. FSC is directly involved in innovation through investments in pilot projects and academic research on the future of work and skills in Canada. The Future Skills Centre is funded by the Government of Canada's Future Skills Program.