Webinar: The future of work and your talent pipeline - What is COVID-19 teaching us?

Thursday, September 17, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)
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Far sooner than anyone predicted, COVID-19 changed the world of work. The pandemic has disrupted workforce culture, accelerating the need for strategic initiatives in talent management. Key HR concerns like recruitment and talent retention have been altered dramatically. To keep up, hiring programs and HR strategies must be agile to best position your organization ahead of uncertainty.

This webinar was designed by the Work-Learn Institute to help hiring managers, supervisors, recruiters and other human resources professionals discover how employers are attracting, recruiting and retaining young talent in today’s challenging market. With access to leading research insights and student and employer perspectives, this webinar highlights what is changing in the world of work, helping organizations re-think and reset their talent management strategy for continued growth and success.


There are four main clusters of talents that have been identified as important for the future of work, including expanding expertise, developing self, building relationships and designing and delivering solutions. Within each of these clusters, there are additional skills and competencies that will contribute to a candidate’s success in a wide variety of roles.

For hiring managers and HR professionals, each of these skills are probably quite familiar. What has changed is the way in which individual candidates are successful with each skill, based on how the workforce has evolved – like information and data literacy, interest in lifelong learning and career development, an innovative mindset and communication and collaboration in a remote work environment. These are all competencies that will help young talent adapt, innovate and build resilience as they enter a complex and challenging workforce.

“Technical skills are only as strong as your ability to communicate them,” says Selena Latchman, Shopify Developer and webinar guest speaker. “We have a lot of technical talent in the world, but we sometimes forget the importance of soft skills. Many of our interactions now happen through digital channels - like this webinar! The way we build our networks, interview, collaborate and socialize is evolving. Our reach is expanding. And with that comes more emphasis on effective communication.”

Learn more about the University of Waterloo’s Future Ready Talent Framework.


When the Work-Learn Institute recently conducted research with talent managers, the goal was to better understand how they define talent and what measures they take to recruit and develop talent within their organizations.

Through this research, two key findings emerged:

  1. Organizations are finding success by hiring young talent early (and identify that co-operative education or work-integrated learning programs are a great place to start)
  2. Ideal full time, permanent candidates possess a lifelong learning mindset (which includes an aptitude for learning, fluid intelligence and the ability to adapt and solve problems in new context)

It was also evident that the contributions of work-integrated learning to talent pipelines are preparing young talent for success at work, reducing hiring risks, developing long-term relationships and mobilizing support staff to improve recruitment processes.

What can your organization do to onboard and develop young talent more effectively?

“Look to Gen Z for advice,” says Emma Surich, Lead, Talent Acquisition at ecobee. “How can we keep them engaged digitally? What do they like instead of a classic in person meeting? Do they prefer self-guided onboarding vs. in person? How can you be more open with feedback? The younger generation are keen to grow and see what’s next for them. Look for ways you can implement new plans and open communication channels to help them visualize what’s next and how they can get there.”

Read the full research paper: Contributions of work-integrated learning programs to organizational talent pipelines: Insights from talent managers


Over the last eight months, many organizations have quickly shifted their operations to safely enable staff to work remotely. This shift has not only challenged the way many of us do business but has also forced us to look more closely at the ways in which we choose to manage talent.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a remote work strategy that enables team members to have flexibility, autonomy, meaningful work opportunities and ongoing touchpoints and connections with colleagues.

Working remotely can blur the connection between assigned work and the value it can bring to the organization. It’ll be important for your organization to look for ways to encourage your team to clearly understand the meaningfulness of their work. It’s also crucial to create opportunities for formal, informal and social contact across your teams.

Are employees connecting with colleagues through weekly or project-specific meetings? Are informal touchpoints easily accessible for everyone? Are you creating opportunities to have fun and socialize, independently from work? Do young team members have chances to build their professional network or seek additional mentorship and training? If not, you may need to look at what you can do to ensure your team can thrive in a remote work environment.

What specific advice should you give your young talent to help them successfully adapt to this transition?

“Prepare for the unexpected going into the future and be responsive to changing circumstances,” says webinar guest speaker and recent University of Waterloo graduate, Andrew MacMillan.

Having a diverse skillset and strong communication and collaboration skills, both in-person and through remote working environments, will all help to create a workforce that can thrive in this changing world. While the future might seem uncertain and scary at times, there will be a lot of opportunity to do meaningful work and solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.”


We’ve spent a lot of time reviewing the key trends in the future of work, the talents needed for young candidates to be successful in an evolving workplace and what Gen Z is thinking about the future and the world of work.…but how can this help your organization be future ready?

  1. Here are some tips for how you can start re-thinking your talent management strategy today:
  2. Bring the right talent into your organization by hiring for the skills and competencies that support a remote workforce. Look for adaptability, resilience, communication, collaboration, self-direction, learning potential and digital and technological agility.
  3. Review what you have to offer the next generation of talent to improve how you can recruit and retain them. Build connections and commitment at work, create open channels to provide feedback, offer professional development and ongoing learning opportunities and provide meaningful projects and work.

Discover new ways to access talent by thinking about how your remote work practices can create opportunities for you to be better prepared for a complex future workforce.

This program has been approved for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours under Category A of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Log of the Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA). You may manually log this webinar in your CPD Log.

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