Brock University made its long-time collaboration with the Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) official by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Tuesday, Sept. 22.
The partnership formalizes both Brock and NWPB’s efforts in contributing to the local community by supporting the health, vitality and well-being of the region, as well as addressing workforce development challenges. This includes working toward a shared commitment to helping build and nurture a prosperous Niagara community comprised of a diverse and talented workforce.
The livestreamed event kicked off with an engaging and informative panel discussion on a joint report by the Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) at Brock and the NWPB about Niagara’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as gender equity in the region’s workforce.
Moderated by Julie Rorison, Brock’s Manager of Community Relations, the discussion included a variety of panelists across Brock, the NCO and the NWPB.
“One of the central goals of the NCO is to be a clear demonstration of Brock’s commitment to the Niagara community,” said Charles Conteh, Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock and NCO Director. “The Niagara Workplace Planning Board and NCO have enjoyed a longstanding relationship going back to the founding years of the NCO. We see this MOU as an institutional affirmation of this partnership.”
Brock President Gervan Fearon noted that Brock’s commitment to collaboration benefits more than just the University, but the local community.
“Community is deeply defined within the DNA of Brock University,” said Fearon. “The evolution of Brock’s community engagement has moved beyond the tradition of bricks and mortar into meaningful, reciprocal relationships that will help us achieve our strategic objective to enhance the life and vitality of the local region and beyond.”
Over the course of the University’s history, Brock’s commitment to community has come in many shapes, forms and initiatives across the region, including:
- MOU agreements that see Brock researchers and students working alongside local healthcare providers, community support agencies and other partners
- Helping local municipalities deal with the impacts of climate change
- Providing land and human resources to help Niagara prepare to host a successful Canada Summer Games
- Providing scientific and business support for local manufacturing, agriculture and the wine industry
- Contributing research and knowledge to support and expand economic sectors
“This commitment to collaboration and community engagement can be seen in the initiatives that have already shaped the types of partnership we have across the region,” said Fearon. “There’s an opportunity to further contribute research and knowledge and expand across the Niagara region and strengthen our vital economic sectors. Collaboration makes us all stronger.”
One of the highlights of the event was a discussion about Niagara’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with an emphasis on women in the workforce. The conversation, which was led by Thalia Semplonius, Project Manager, NWPB, Carol Phillips, Research Co-Ordinator, NCO, Kate Bezanson, Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Sociology, and Felice Martinello, Professor of Economics, focused on the NCO’s latest report, “The economic impact of COVID-19 on Niagara women in the workforce.”
Vivian Kinnaird, Chief Executive Officer, NWPB, said she’s excited to see the already-strong relationship between Brock and the NWPB flourish and looks forward to a more established and fruitful partnership.
“We really are looking forward to working on deepening our research, as well as working with Co-op, Career and Experiential Education to add value to the community impact of Brock’s work, workplace development and career planning,” said Kinnaird. “It’s a vital time and COVID has really highlighted some of these issues. We’re thrilled to engage with Brock in supporting newcomers to the area.”