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Western Economic Diversification supports UM project, boosting prosperity

August 2, 2019 — 

A University of Manitoba led project has received $2.2M from Western Economic Diversification (WED) to enhance Manitoba’s readiness to compete in the changing global economy.

In partnership with Red River College, the University of Winnipeg, and Business Council Manitoba (BCM), the investment by WED of the U of M’s co-managed project will drive industry investment in specific collaboration projects and have significant economic benefits.

The new funding from WED announced today will address these issues by driving industry investment, including the hiring of five full-time employees to support the collaboration, 45 new industry-academic partnerships, and increased employment opportunities for 150 Indigenous students. The total cost of the project, including additional sources of funding through the U of M and other partners, is $4.3M over the next three years, supporting an expansion of the BCM program (a work-integrated learning program), and at least three AIM DAYS (Accelerating Innovation Meetings).

“This project will help identify research strengths within academic institutions that can be used by industry in industry-academic partnerships,” says Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) at the U of M. “The impact of these new collaborative projects includes employment for undergraduate and graduate students, and creates new technologies, products and processes for business, government, and non-profit organizations.”

The initiatives will also build on BCM’s successful Aboriginal Education Award program, Youth Creative Employment Opportunities program, and the Post-Secondary Institutions Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, where post-secondary institutions and BCM will work in partnership with Indigenous communities, government, and business, towards significantly increasing Indigenous participation in the post-secondary sector and in the labour market.

“Enhanced collaboration with the Business Council on Manitoba, and its members will allow the U of M, and its project partners, to further enhance relationships with Manitoba businesses,” says Dr. Janice Ristock, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at the U of M. “In addition, enhanced connections to business will provide a better understanding of skill needs and allow us to develop and provide to students, an expanded offering of work-integrated and other experiential education opportunities.”

According to the 2018 study Humans Wanted, prepared by RBC, 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will be disrupted by technology in the coming decade, with half going through a significant overhaul of the skills required. Despite heavy job displacement, the Canadian economy is expected to add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, all of which will require a new mix of skills. Manitoba’s education system, training programs, and labour market initiatives are not adequately designed to help youth navigate the new skills economy.


Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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