AI to enable a dynamic workforce
Equipping today’s learners for tomorrow’s work
Esteban Veintimilla is the CEO and co-founder of 1Mentor, a company using artificial intelligence to understand industry's evolving skills requirements. Veintimilla is also an advisor for students entering their first co-op work term at the University of Waterloo’s Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business.
Talent leads the way in shaping innovative ecosystems that grow local and global economies. We asked Veintimilla how we should develop talent to support resilient economies for the future.
Opinion by Veintimilla
Entrepreneurship is about solving complex problems, and in a world of rapid technological advancement and unpredictable change, we need to reimagine how we prepare emerging talent. 1Mentor partners with higher-education institutions to better serve their students by providing tools to prepare future-ready talent.
When I started my undergrad in math and business at the University of Waterloo, I thought I wanted to go into finance. I discovered co-op and immediately saw how valuable these work experiences would be to my professional development. It allowed me to explore different careers while expanding my skill set. I did my first work placement in finance, then others in actuarial science, business analysis, project management, and finally in entrepreneurship where I found my passion. The vision for my company took shape when I was working at Waterloo supporting students in finding co-op placements. I realized how difficult it was to equip students with evolving industry demands and that there was a need to create agile partnerships between industry, government and academia to prepare students for the future of work.
The 1Mentor platform is designed to equip students with the insights to understand what skills and competencies to develop to achieve their career objectives. Through support and investment from the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and Velocity, as well as the ability to leverage guidance from a world-leading institution in co-operative education, we have grown rapidly in a short period of time.
Our platform uses cutting-edge, proprietary AI to analyze higher-education data and more than 110 million job postings to understand industry requirements. 1Mentor lets students explore career paths, understand how prepared they are, and find upskilling opportunities to prepare for the jobs they are passionate about. Our goal is to be the go-to place for students to understand what skills and competencies they need and to prepare themselves to land jobs and be successful in those roles.
In addition to the clarity that data provides for students, it also supports colleges and universities. Our post-secondary partners understand that they need to adapt to a dynamic workforce. Our platform lets them see data on their programs and students to understand how they compare to the job market. They receive critical information on what fields students are interested in pursuing in today’s economy.
At the pace that industry is evolving, students are entering disrupted fields and jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago, and new opportunities will continue to appear. Career pathways are no longer linear, and we see students from all academic backgrounds pursuing fields like AI, fintech, data and blockchain. We cannot rely on traditional models of workforce development. Colleges and universities must adapt and prepare their students for this new reality, whether through courses, micro-credentials or work-integrated learning opportunities.
It is exciting to see that the challenge is being recognized globally. We get to work with innovative universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Latin America and Canada, including Waterloo, to ensure emerging talent is future ready. When I graduated from Waterloo, co-op helped me feel equipped to pursue my professional goals and take on the challenge of being a business owner. I want that feeling of empowerment shared by all students, and it is incumbent on post-secondary institutions to ready the next generation of talent.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.