MDB Insight Blog

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Me and Bob Magee

#WednesdayswithMDBInsight – Our Wednesdays with MDB Insight blog posts feature the thinkers and doers on our team sharing ideas and talking about what’s important to us as professionals. We have very diverse backgrounds and a range of interests to share with you. We hope you’re enjoying these posts and that you will join the conversation with us and let us know what’s on your mind mid-week.

Trudy Parsons, EVP

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Something remarkable happened recently that represented a milestone for me and the realization of something I have worked passionately towards for much of my 25+ year career. The launch of Workforce Central Canada ( was the culmination of years of pursuing a dream for something I am very proud to have my name associated with.

I have spent most of my career in workforce development and planning in labour supply (job seekers) and demand (employers). It is evident to me that our ecosystem is broken. I say that based on my experiences traveling across this great country working with communities of all sizes, rural and urban. They are gearing up for the battle to attract and retain talent to meet local employer demand for a skilled labour force. Communities are being creative, organizations are demonstrating resilience in the wake of reduced funding, and amazing strategies and initiatives are being implemented – from St. John’s Newfoundland to Whitehorse, Yukon – I have seen the great work being done by innovators and leaders on the ground. All this with a common goal to better align talent with job opportunities. Yet, if you are not connected or aware of what is being done across Canada (and beyond), you can easily find yourself staring at a blank page trying to devise the next best tactic or strategic approach to solving a problem. This same problem is likely being experienced in other communities, regions and provinces, and has likely been tackled in some fashion already. What if there was a way to discover who else is doing this great work (or even tackling a similar problem)? What if those that have a passion, mandate, or desire to make a difference in the battle for talent had a means to connect with each other?

The Dream Comes to Life

Workforce Central Canada is an effort of the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), MDB Insight, and the Hub for Industry Education Collaboration (HIEC) to bring awareness and connections to respond to workforce issues in Canada. Workforce Central Canada empowers people to deliver solutions for a strong Canada that is fueled by a skilled and resilient labour force. The aim is to learn and share, network and collaborate, examine and explore, imagine and strategize.

There are four key deliverables that make up Workforce Central Canada:


To launch Workforce Central Canada, our first initiative is the series of podcasts we have developed. The series explores what is happening in Canada’s key economic sectors, and the pressures on those industries related to talent, including attraction and retention strategies, skill demands, and the landscape of labour market adaptation. The initiative, underwritten by ResCare Workforce Services, covers both today’s challenges and future implications.

The first episode, hosted by Ron Painter, NAWB CEO, gave me the opportunity to join Devone Holt and Tim Foster of Rescare Workforce Services and Kelly Hoey of HIEC to talk about our experiences in workforce development. It gave context to our involvement in Workforce Central Canada and set the stage for the rest of the podcast series. And what a line-up! Episodes so far have included:

  • Hamoon Ekhtiari of Audacious Futures discussing the future of work and learning as well as what companies need to consider in strategic decision making when thinking about the future of work
  • Sarah Watts Rynard, CEO at Polytechnics Canada, talking about howtelescope-561355_1920 Canada's polytechnic institutes are preparing students for in-demand jobs with practical training
  • Jake Hirsch-Allen (Economic Graph and Higher Ed Learning Solutions Lead at LinkedIn Canada) sharing his thoughts about LinkedIn Learning (with, a database of skills that is helping workforces upskill or transition careers
  • A discussion about workforce development and labour market information with Steven Tobin, Labour Market Information Council in Canada’s Executive Director

Talking Advanced Manufacturing with Bob Magee

A recent episode, “Working in Advanced Manufacturing”, featured Bob Magee, Chairman of Woodbridge group and Vice Chair of Canada’s Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (this is probably a good time to acknowledge my inclusion of Bob in the title of this post and say for the record that I have no knowledge of Bob ever thumbing a diesel down, nor have I ever been to Baton Rouge). We were so fortunate to have Bob join us for the podcast and share some of the insights he has gleaned over a what has been a distinguished career. I was particularly grateful for his comments about trends and advances in the sector, from the unprecedented impact of computers to game-changing additive manufacturing. He also offered a powerful reminder about the vast flow of data in today’s digital age: “in the last two years, we have generated as much information as was created in the previous history of mankind”.

The ability to bring together these accomplished thinkers and practitioners is at the heart of what I envisioned for Workforce Central Canada and represents the amazing potential for this new resource to benefit the workforce development field here in Canada. Our colleagues in the U.S. have enjoyed these benefits for years thanks to Workforce Central, the official podcast of NAWB. It has long been my goal to bring a similarly valuable leadership dialogue into our workforce development efforts in Canada. We chose the accessible format of a podcast to reach a broad audience to take advantage of this rich resource. I think it will be a tremendous boost to our collective efforts and help Canada compete on the global stage.

Future Podcasts – Got an Idea?

Is there a particular topic you would like to have featured in one of our future podcasts? Is there a specific workforce development challenge you would like us to pursue? We’d love to hear from you about ideas for upcoming podcasts and the ways we might help workforce development professionals get the most from this content.

Trudy 2018-1Trudy Parsons is an Executive Vice-President at MDB Insight. To learn more about Trudy and the rest of our team, go to


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