At Unity, we know that success in tomorrow’s economy hinges on how we educate and inspire learners today.
The real-time 3D boom is only beginning, and the demand for these skills is projected to grow across countless industries in the coming years. It’s important that everyone has access to the immersive economy’s many opportunities – that’s why we’re always looking for ways to support workforce development projects that put real-time 3D education within reach for all.
In this blog post, we outline one such initiative – the Ontario Skills Development Fund’s Centres of Excellence program – which is helping hundreds of underserved learners bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, build the Unity skills to create without limits, and gear up to pursue rewarding real-time careers. Read on to learn more about this exciting program and its impacts for participants so far.
In early 2022, Unity partnered with Stratagem, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and Magnet to apply for and win a $2 million CAD Skills Development Grant from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. This grant was awarded for the purpose of training and certifying a diverse population of students, educators, displaced workers, and employees in the Canadian province. In early 2023, Desjardins Financial Group contributed an additional $100,000 in support of these goals.
Aimed at addressing the setbacks and lost opportunities that have disproportionately affected young people in the wake of the pandemic, the resulting program kicked off in July and supports the upward mobility of underserved learners eager to break into industries like gaming, animation, film, construction, healthcare, engineering, and more. Training is being delivered by community organizations and educational institutions through a combination of online and in-person learning, divided between classroom sessions and on-the-job experience.
According to data tracked by Stratagem, youth with disabilities, newcomers to Ontario, and Indigenous and Black students comprise more than 60% of the initiative’s first cohort. By leveraging community partnerships and varied delivery methods, the program is improving the lives of a broad group of participants from diverse backgrounds who will go on to contribute to Ontario’s economy in a multitude of ways.
While the program is still in its early stages, the initial results are remarkable and speak to the efficacy of taking a multiformat approach to delivering workforce development training. So far, approximately 1,000 participants have benefited from the program by completing Unity training and earning certifications and/or microcredentials – and that number will continue to grow.
Over 60 program participants have been engaged via local nonprofits including Toronto Community Housing, BIPOC TV & Film, and the Remix Project. These learners are taking accelerated courses designed by Unity Education that teach foundational Unity skills and best practices for effective real-time 3D development. Classes are led by Unity Certified Instructors and include live, one-on-one instruction and extensive opportunities for hands-on practice and experimentation.
“My biggest takeaway from this training is that there’s nothing I can’t do. I’m not limited to my current situation. Being able to participate in the first cohort was a really great experience and it opened me up to the possibilities that are out there. Thank you to Toronto Community Housing, as well as Unity – I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.” – Sadiya Abubakar, Toronto Community Housing participant
Through the Unity Academic Alliance (UAA), more than 400 students from 10 colleges across Ontario now have the resources on hand to learn, practice, and attain industry-recognized certifications that prove their abilities to potential employers. These Unity certifications open doors to high-demand careers in fields like gaming, architecture, film, engineering, and beyond.
Approximately 400 high-school students across the Toronto District School Board are now using Unity EdLab, which offers a complete classroom solution for learning Unity. With access to a cloud-based Editor, extensive supplementary resources, and integrated Unity certification prep, these students are getting a head start in real-time 3D development while flexing their creative muscles.
The program’s mandate isn’t limited to students; 30 educators in the Toronto area at both the secondary and post-secondary levels are benefiting, too. These educators are receiving training in Unity that will empower them to support future students as well as their peers, enhancing the availability and quality of real-time 3D education across Ontario.
The Ontario Skills Development Fund’s Centres of Excellence program is a prime example of a modern workforce development strategy that benefits stakeholders and participants at every level.
By building up their Unity skills and earning professional certifications, learners exiting the program will be equipped to begin real-time careers in a variety of fields with excellent long-term employment prospects. And, when these diverse participants enter the workforce, they’ll be supporting the health of local and provincial economies as immersive technology becomes increasingly essential across industries. In short, everybody wins.
We look forward to providing future updates about the success of this program and its participants. Stay tuned for a more in-depth case study coming later this year.
If you’re an educator or workforce development professional interested in building programs like this in your community, get in touch with us. We’re here to help you make it happen.