Palette Skills Helps BC Employers Compete and Win In New Economy

Rapid upskilling opportunities are being funded with $35M by Upskill Canada as part of the Government of Canada’s Upskilling for Industry Initiative


May 16, 2024

Vancouver, BC Palette Skills today announced it has partnered with six British Columbia-based organizations to deliver upskilling that will help employers access the job-ready talent they need to fill roles in growing sectors, such as Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Technologies, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

This employer-led and demand-driven training will be offered by CMA, Lighthouse Labs, CASTL, NPower,  M2MTech Inc., and Northwest Skills Institute, and funded by Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills. 

“Canada’s greatest strength is our people,” said The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Through the Upskilling for Industry Initiative, we are delivering upskilling projects across the country, ensuring that Canadian workers have the skills required to work in the most cutting-edge, technical industries of tomorrow.”

Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills, was selected by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to lead its Upskilling for Industry Initiative. Since its inception, this initiative has helped prepare thousands of highly-skilled, dedicated workers for new careers. 

“We are focused on making sure companies can find the skilled workers they need, when they need them,” said Rhonda Barnet, CEO of Palette Skills. “Our partners in BC will be providing hands-on training to build Canada’s modern workforce. We are equipping Canadians with skills for high-demand roles, and lifting Canada’s economy to its full potential.”

The programs each of the six delivery partner organizations are running were profiled at an event today in Vancouver, hosted by Deloitte. At the event, Barnet was joined by The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources to discuss building a workforce to drive Canada’s clean technology economy.


“The global energy transition is a generational economic opportunity for Canada — and one that our dynamic and innovative workforce will be critical in seizing. By making smart investments – in clean energy and technology, in the critical mineral value chain and in workers themselves — this federal government will continue to create sustainable jobs and build a low-carbon Canada that works for everyone. In partnership with organizations like Palette Skills, we are helping equip Canada’s workers with the tools they will need to not just thrive, but lead in the sustainable clean economy of the future,” said Wilkinson.   

Upskill Canada was launched by Palette Skills in November 2023 to help thousands of workers find new careers through skills training and job placement in some of the fastest-growing industries in Canada.

To learn more about Palette Skills programs, visit https://paletteskills.org/upskillcanadaprograms

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For more information or media inquiries, please contact:

Chloé Roussel

Vice President, Public Affairs
Palette Skills

About Upskill Canada

Upskill Canada is a national talent platform that helps fast-growing companies access the talent they need to compete and succeed globally, while creating new career pathways for workers to rapidly transition into high-demand roles. Upskill Canada will target all regions of the country and support Canadian-based employers, with a particular focus on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It will focus on strengthening key growth sectors, including digital technology, cybersecurity, agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing, clean technology and biomanufacturing.

About Palette Skills

Palette Skills is a national nonprofit whose purpose is to help Canada’s most innovative companies access untapped talent through industry-led rapid upskilling programs. Powered by a consortium of national business associations, leading academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations, Palette works to catalyze a network of partners to adopt new best practices in industry-led upskilling approaches. Palette Skills is hosted at the University of Toronto. 


Six BC organizations are helping employers find the talent they need to compete and win in the new economy.  


VANCOUVER, May 16, 2024 – Employers will be able to access the talent they need to fill roles in Advanced Manufacturing, Digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence thanks to new programs being funded by Upskill Canada.  The programs will create job ready talent over the next year for employers who have helped shape what is practically needed for these programs to help ensure workers come out job ready.  

The Programs:

Lighthouse Labs offers a 12-week Cyber Security Bootcamp with a hybrid virtual approach, combining live online instruction and self-guided work. The program includes 600 hours of live training and a 40-hour pre-work module to ensure all students have a consistent technical foundation.

“The number of cyber attacks and incidents in Canada has been unprecedented, and as a result, the industry need for skilled cyber security professionals is at an all-time high,” said Jeremy Shaki, CEO of Lighthouse Labs. “Many businesses face challenges recruiting and retaining cyber security workers. The Lighthouse Labs Cyber Security Bootcamp, powered by Upskill Canada, will enable businesses to take advantage of untapped talent, and incentivize professionals to learn the skills needed to transition to a job in cyber security. Through this national talent platform, we’re helping fast-growing companies access the talent they need while creating new pathways for workers to transition into high-demand roles.”

-Danielle Tarbutt, Director, Lighthouse Labs

CASTL will train 400 participants in 20 cohorts of 20 trainees each, offering a 10-week blended part-time program focusing on GMP, aseptic processing, technical skills, and job readiness. The program addresses the industry’s talent pool gaps and on-the-job onboarding challenges, driven by the high demand for biomanufacturing workers and stringent regulatory requirements. 

“CASTL Elevate is a critical pathway to bringing new workers to Canada’s fast-growing biomanufacturing sector,” says Penny Walsh-McGuire, CASTL’s Chief Executive Officer. “Thank you to Upskill Canada and ISED for investing in this initiative and enabling us to support and develop the future workforce of Canada’s biomanufacturing industry.”

–  Penny Walsh, Executive Director, CASTL

NPower Canada’s successful virtual workforce development program will empower participants with digital skills and industry-recognized certifications, with an 80% target for successful completion and subsequent employment within 6 months. This expansion represents a 40% increase in capacity, reaching new regions and addressing the digital skills gap to foster a more equitable and diverse technology sector and bolster Canada’s economic recovery.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting project, that will provide instrumental support to both job seekers and employers in B.C.  Upskill Canada’s contribution will allow us to scale our program, reach more job seekers and contribute to a stronger Canadian economy.” 

–  Julia Blackburn, CEO, NPower

M2MTech Inc.’s Upskilling program focuses on gaining hands-on emerging tech skills in Artificial Intelligence that will support developing skills related to Big Data and Algorithm Design which is requested by employers in Digital Technology sectors in Western Canada (BC & Prairies). Some of the occupations that align with this Upskilling stream include Data Scientist, Data Engineer, Data Analyst/Business Analyst among others.

“DataTalent is our strategic initiative designed to cultivate a robust pool of skilled Canadian professionals in Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning, and AI. Our program spans Work Integrated learning opportunities from various sectors such as CleanTech, Advanced Manufacturing, Business Intelligence, Finance, and Healthcare.

We invite industry leaders to collaborate with our exceptional talents through Work Integrated Learning projects, giving you the opportunity to experience their capabilities firsthand before making hiring decisions. Join us in shaping the future of innovation and excellence.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Canada and Upskill Canada for funding initiatives like DataTalent, making significant investments in Canada’s innovative job economy.”

– Ashok Kasilingam, Executive Director – M2M Tech


Northwest Skills Institute will offer a 12 week Canada Advanced Manufacturing Leader training program. The program will help provide participants with skills needed to start mid-level careers within the advanced manufacturing sector including technical training, leadership skills, job readiness and job placements. 

“We are excited to be one of Palette Skills delivery partners helping upskill those with previous experience transition to or return to their previous positions within the advanced manufacturing sector.” 

-Cormac O’Reilly, Vice-President, NorthWest Skills Institute

CMA The CMA has brought together a consortium of leading organizations in the digital marketing space to address the significant talent gap and need for digital marketers. Partners include: Jelly Academy, an Indigenous-founded Canadian leader in digital marketing skills training, and Grow Class. The Digital Marketing Skills Canada (DMSC) provides three customized training programs to meet the need for junior through senior marketers who are interested in upskilling, and also for Canadians without marketing experience who are interested in a new career. Each program runs for seven weeks.

“The marketing profession plays a key role in building businesses and contributing to British Columbia’s economy and competitiveness. Through Upskill Canada’s innovative program, the Canadian Marketing Association – and our partners Jelly Academy and Growclass – are ensuring there’s a robust pipeline of talented digital marketers to meet the high demand. Our graduates have the skills and expertise to help businesses and brands thrive.” 

– Alison Simpson, President & CEO, Canadian Marketing Association






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