Connecting Employment and Education for Ontario’s Future
On Thursday, June 23rd, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, came to the London Roundhouse to announce the findings and priorities of the Premier's Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel. Specifically, the panel released an in-depth report with recommendations for strengthening the technology- and knowledge-based workforce through experience-based education, stronger partnerships between educators and employers, support for both traditional and non-traditional career paths, and better job market information for better decisions. The event was well attended by our own team, and other invitees included leaders in our local tech and communications community. Our president, David Billson, was asked to say a few words about Ellipsis Digital and Engine SevenFour, our beautiful workplace and the value London brings to the digital economy.
Greetings everyone, and a special welcome to the Honourable Premier Kathleen Wynne and Honourable Deb Matthews for coming to London and our Roundhouse this afternoon.
We are excited about the announcement we just heard as increasing the skills of our workforce in the digital media and technology sector is an important advancement for our city and our province.
It is fitting to me that such an announcement is made in an historic building such as the Roundhouse. It was built 130 years ago in an age of innovation for our country as we expanded our rail lines to connect our people together.
Rail allowed us to connect to our people more effectively, allowing for the free flowing exchange of information, people and commerce. In the modern area, the open web has allowed us to do the same - only faster and globally.
Sometimes the rail lines are given the credit for connecting the people together, but I think it was actually the people and information that traveled along those rail lines that changed our country. Similarly, the open web has allowed us to connect to our fellow human beings faster, but it’s the information and ideas that connect people to people that is the important thing that drives our innovation forward.
In southern Ontario, Waterloo has the reputation of being a hub of technology innovation. London’s innovation centres are often missed in the discussion about the digital economy moving forward. London’s strength in its technology sector is its diversification - rather than large technology institutions, London’s technology landscape benefits from a multitude of small- and medium-sized firms that all work in tandem to drive our economy forward.
I can’t take credit for this saying as I heard it at a convention years ago, but it was said to me that if Waterloo is the Tool Makers, London is the Tool Users.
While Waterloo’s ability to build out technology and software is indisputable, without the digital media sector — which is particularly strong in London — we do not get any value from the hardware, software or networks that are built.
Put simply, YouTube without videos is an empty (and unentertaining) box. Facebook without users’ posts is just a series of annoying emojis (although sometimes that is all that is there anyway, but I digress). An iPhone without applications that allow us to play, learn or connect with loved ones is an empty (although pretty) box. Without the content produced by our London digital media teams, all the amazing technology does not matter.
Digital media and content creation are what makes technology human and accessible, and drives our people to connect and share information, ideas, culture and yes, even the occasional well-informed political debate on Twitter.
Ellipsis Digital and its sister agency, Engine SevenFour, both housed here in the Roundhouse, specifically focus in on our mission:We help people discover their story to deliver their purpose.
Every company, every non-profit and charity has a purpose — our team helps them to discover that purpose and then use the appropriate tools to connect them to their audience. By connecting people to people, purpose to purpose, we help our clients achieve our goals.
I’m joined here today by several leaders in our community. I’d like to thank representatives from Arcane, Big Blue Bubble, Creative Properties, Public Sector Digest, Resolution Interactive Media, Start.ca, Techalliance, Voices.com and ZTR for joining us today on short notice. It is a sign of how passionate our sector is about the growth opportunities for our city.
My hope is that in Queen's Park and beyond it is recognized that London has a vigorous and growing digital sector, and we are starved for well-trained talent. Helping us to be able to fill our talent gap will aid in ensuring a bright future for our sector.
Our local economic development groups estimate between 400 and 1,000 open technology jobs - these are high-value, high-growth jobs in our region. However, there’s a piece to the puzzle that is sometimes missed in evaluating the economic impact of adding these new jobs: if high-growth technology firms fill those 1000 jobs tomorrow, by Monday morning there’d be hundreds of NEW jobs available. In digital media and technology, creating jobs fuels more job creation.
We’re hopeful that our friends in both the provincial and federal government support our aims to continue to attract and retain new generations of workforce to our city. Most recently our city council put forward a plan for Rapid Transit which we believe will assist us in that goal.
We’re also excited to learn more about the upcoming ability to rethink the way we engage with training and labour. In closing, thank you for coming to our space and announcing sharing your new program with us.
- David Billson