In 2012 the Ontario government launched the Employment and Training Services Integration process to modernize and transform Ontario’s employment and training programs and services. The initiative was a response to a landscape where employers were failing to fill available jobs, individuals were having trouble finding work, and many disadvantaged groups were facing barriers to employment.

A key recommendation was to establish a new Ontario centre of research excellence to aggregate research-based evidence on what was working at a systems level and share this information broadly. Through coordination of research and best practices, it was envisioned that service providers and employers could make evidence-informed decisions about programs, policies, and approaches.

The Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation was launched in February 2016 by a consortium of 12 diverse and multi-sectoral partners led by Ryerson University. A dedicated volunteer Working Group of representatives from the 12 partner organizations steered the organization through its start-up phase and launched its first call for proposals. Today, Executive Director Dr. Trina Foster leads OCWI with the support of a Steering Committee.