Nearly 500 workforce development experts came together at Blue Mountain to take part in Futures 2022 – the first in-person conference hosted by First Work since 2019!  

The Futures Conference kicked off with a bang – that’s the banging of drums! Attendees were treated to a powerful performance by the Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers (RAW) – a Toronto-based performing arts ensemble made up of East and Southeast Asian womxn. The large Taiko drums represent creative resistance for social change, carving space for self-expression, education, and community building.  

Over 33 sessions took place over the three-day conference, with topics including; innovative service delivery approaches, best practices in youth engagement approaches, anti-racism in action, labour market insights, and more.  

To capitalize on the in-person time together, delegates had the opportunity to connect, network, enjoy drinks and hors d'oeuvres at a networking reception prior to Day 1 Dinner. 

On day two of the conference, a series of networking discussions provided delegates an opportunity to solution together as a sector. Attendees were asked to re-imagine the transformation conversation, so the job seeker remains the focus of sectoral design.  

Elyse Watkins from the Futures Skills Centre hosted a fascinating panel on microcredentials, joined by Robert Luke (eCampus Ontario) and Malika Asthana (D2L), in a discussion focused on meeting future skills needs. The panelists discussed how microcredentials do not exist in a vacuum and that to meet the needs of learners and employers alike; microcredential fungibility, wrap-around supports, and the barriers to access must be considered. 

The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) hosted various sessions that included an Ontario Employment Services transformation update by David Cronin, a presentation on Better Jobs Ontario, more information about round 3 of the Skills Development Fund, and an overview of the Common Assessment tool (CAt). 

Delegates, speakers, exhibitors and staff not only attended Futures to network, share information and learn – but to have fun! We saw incredible enthusiasm, participation and creativity from over 20 teams that participated in our Costume Party, themed TV family and friends through the ages. Congratulations to YMCA North York who took home first prize for Coco, YMCA Scarborough 2nd prize for Squid Game, and EEC took home 3rd prize for WWE. 

Ontario’s Employment Services Transformation (EST) remained a core topic throughout the conference Oand was presented in several sessions. In addition to David Cronin’s session which included information about the government’s Market Sounding initiatives for Phase 3 catchments, a training on the CAt took place by a MLITSD representative. First Work’s own Sophia Koukoulas, Syed Shah and Chardae Henry also led a session including a panel discussion with ESP representatives from the Integrated Employment Services (IES) catchments who shared their experiences navigating Ontario’s EST. Sherie Gaylord and Megann Flowers from John Howard Society of Kingston & District-ReStart Employment Services presented about Stream C and shared practical skills and insights for breaking down barriers and motivating clients.  

Futures 2022 started with a bang and ended with an inspiring keynote from Randell Adjei. The Ontario Poet Laureate and founder of R.I.S.E Edutainment spoke on the power of re-igniting your why. Through his poetry and speech, Randell inspired members of the sector to keep striving to deliver their work with passion and serve youth in the nuanced ways necessary to thrive! 

Futures 2022 Sponsorship Opportunities

With Futures 2022 around the corner, sponsorship opportunities are now available!

Sponsorship starts at only $3,500, and we offer a unique approach and flexibility to ensure we are achieving your objectives with our audience. Click here to learn more or reach out to Ed Byers, [email protected]




Blue Mountain Accommodation Details

We’re excited to welcome you back in the fall! Seeing old friends, developing new ones and getting together at BLUE MOUNTAIN!

GET READY for an exciting, fun-filled half-week where the NORTH, EAST, SOUTHWEST AND CENTRAL regions of Ontario come together to share ideas, innovate and take away practical training and solutions in workforce development!

Blue Mountain Resort Room Rates & Hotel Accommodation Policies

Click Here to Book Online

call 1-833-583-BLUE (or 1-833-583-2583) to make a personal reservation for a contracted group or conference.

Group Code: GB00005569

Group Name: Futures Conference Oct2022

Download: Futures'22-Call In and Online Booking Instructions

COVID-19 Healthy and Safety

In accordance with the Province of Ontario’s reopening plan, First Work will welcome participants and staff back to our in-person events with robust health and safety protocols to ensure a positive and safe experience. First Work will take direction from the Ministry of Public Health in accordance with the latest provincial guidelines on an ongoing basis. 

IEffective March 21, 2022, masks are not required at Blue Mountain Resort. Though masks will not be mandatory as of this date, they will still be encouraged for both guests and employees and highly recommended for those who are immunocompromised, at high risk, or who choose to still use them. Proof of vaccination is no longer required at Blue Mountain Resort. Please note this may be subject to change but compliance with all government regulations at the time will be required and enforced at the conference.

Symptom-Free Policy: If you are feeling unwell or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home. 

Additional information about the conference program will be updated on the website as content becomes available. Event details subject to change.

Call for Presenters

First Work invites you to submit submit a presentation proposal for the 2022 National Workforce Development Futures Conference taking place during Fall 2022.

If you are a Practitioner, Storyteller, Speaker, Expert, Motivator, Leader, or Innovator in Employment, Youth Development, Academia, Education, Youth Justice, Economic Development, Government, Industry, Human Resources and Talent Development, Evaluation we invite you to submit a session proposal. See below for potential topic areas.

  • Building a Highly Skilled Workforce
  • Career Development for NEET Youth
  • Advocacy & Profile Building in the Youth Employment Services Sector
  • Alternative Business Models for Non-Profit Orgs
  • Career Development for Youth Outside of School Collective Impact
  • Demand Led Strategies
  • Competencies for Workforce Development Professionals Data Intelligence/LMI
  • Effective Coaching Techniques for NEET Youth
  • Employment Sector Innovation Strategies
  • Employment Service Delivery
  • Employment/Training Programs (Community, Government, Industry)
  • Experiential/Work-Integrated Learning
  • Future of Work/AI Disruption
  • Indigenous Youth Career Development
  • Indigenous Youth Employment & Training Job Search Strategies
  • Labour Market Information
  • Leadership Development
  • Mental Health & Wellness for Youth Practitioners
  • Mental Health & Wellness for NEET Youth
  • Mentorship New Technology & Tools for Workforce Professionals
  • Newcomer and Refugee Youth
  • Online Career Service Delivery/Remote Learning
  • Radical Leadership
  • Resilience/LifeSkills Training
  • Rural Career & Community Economic Development
  • Self-Care for Front Line Workers
  • Skilled Trade Employment/Training Programs
  • Social Finance
  • Sustainable Change
  • Upskilling/Reskilling
  • Virtual Reality as a Learning Tool
  • Workforce Development Strategies
  • Workforce Planning & Development
  • Workforce Recruitment/Retention Strategies

“Over the years, learning a great deal of best practices, connecting with amazing programs and colleagues in the sector, and taking all these back to my work and applying them to improve my work is what keeps me going. Thanks, #Futures2021!”- Chelsie Rapsch, Futures attendee.

Futures 2021 in a Nutshell

This year's Futures Conference focused on strengthening foundations for inclusion, professional development for the front lines, and best practices sharing, with special presentations from international speakers. Conference attendees gathered across four half-days to learn the latest in labour market trends, best practices for engagement, and knowledge-sharing to elevate their programming and professional development. This virtual event hosted over 300 attendees who participated in sessions, networking opportunities and an interactive Exhibitor Hall with gamification challenges embedded throughout the conference.