Niagara College’s School of Business, Brock University and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board have formed a partnership that will see the three institutions collaborate on economic, business and labour research.


Seated: Joffre Mercier, Brock interim vice-president, Research; Dan Patterson, president, Niagara College. Standing: Mario De Divitiis, chief executive officer of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board; Vivian Kinnaird, Niagara College’s dean of Business, Hospitality and Environment; Charles Conteh, director, Niagara Community Observatory

The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 12 stating a desire to combine their strengths to gain a fresh understanding of Niagara’s makeup and challenges, and identify new approaches for stimulating healthy growth in area communities.

“The partnership is based on the shared values of responsiveness to the needs of the local community, a commitment to collaboration that celebrates and leverages the diverse perspectives and strengths of stakeholders and pursuit of world-class research excellence,” says the MOU.

Areas of cooperation include:

  • Preparing research reports and/or policy briefs on group-decided projects
  • Coordinating research activities that may include other community organizations
  • Supporting the partners’ projects by sharing expertise and contacts
  • Organizing joint forums with community partners in Niagara
  • Obtaining funding from various sources for “policy-relevant” research

“This type of collaboration between post-secondary education and labour market experts is key to identifying labour market research priorities for our community, and it leverages our individual roles and strengths in support of economic development in Niagara,” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson. “The MOU we’ve signed today reflects our shared goals of aligning the skills and knowledge of our workforce with the current and future needs of Niagara’s business and industry.”

“Niagara College is pleased to have a role in this important partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board,” said Vivian Kinnaird, Niagara College’s dean of Business, Hospitality and Environment. “This partnership will allow us to work together on research that will be beneficial for the Niagara region.”

Research generated from the five-year partnership is meant to align resources to best support people, programs and services.

Charles Conteh, director of Brock’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO), says the three-way partnership will enable researchers to get a “panoramic view” of how the economy, business and labour interact with one another as Niagara Region moves forward with regional development.

“Let’s coordinate our strength and together begin to ask larger questions about the economic vitality of Niagara and job creation: What are the gaps? What are the challenges? Bottlenecks? Constraints? How can we overcome them?” he says.

“Brock University is deeply committed to working with the community by building partnerships in reciprocity and mutual respect,” says Interim Vice-President Research Joffre Mercier. “Our community stakeholders’ input informs and directs our research, and our research will help inform decisions that will enhance the economic and social health of Niagara. The NCO plays a key role in directing and driving these efforts, and we are grateful to them for their hard work,” says Mercier.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Niagara College and Brock’s NCO,” states Mario De Divitiis, chief executive officer of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board. “This initiative ensures streamlined and effective collaboration between some of the foremost public research institutions in the region, and that opens up so much possibility for Niagara.”

About the partners

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, Niagara College is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario.  Through its School of Business, Niagara College offers a broad range of comprehensive business and business administration programs at the Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Bachelor’s Degree level.

Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory is a public-policy think-tank working in partnership with the Niagara community to foster, produce and disseminate research on current and emerging issues. It produces a range of policy briefs on topics of interest and concern to Niagara Region.

The Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) is one of 26 regional planning boards in Ontario making up the Local Boards Network, partly funded through Employment Ontario. NWPB performs authoritative research identifying and assessing current employment and economic trends and growing workforce opportunities to foster economic growth, develop talent across the labour market, and strengthen partnership and collaboration within our growing community.

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