Algonquin’s new Learning Centre takes continuing education to the next level

Doug Wotherspoon
Doug Wotherspoon, Algonquin’s Executive Director of Business Development, at the college’s new Learning Centre at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Algonquin College.

After decades in the continuing education business, Algonquin College is unveiling its new Learning Centre in downtown Ottawa at 700 Sussex Dr.

Why this facility and why now? Because the world of work is changing – fast.

“It’s a key component of our strategy going forward to ensure that people see Algonquin College not only as a place where you can launch your first great career, but also the place where you can come for your second or third career,” said college President and CEO Claude Brulé. “Acquire the knowledge and skills to re-enter the workforce, to secure that promotion or to find your passion.”

This comes in response to the changing requirements for continuous and lifelong learning – driven by the growing pressures that face employers and individuals alike.

Algonquin CollegeMore people are pursuing a side hustle or engaging in the gig economy outside of a traditional 9-5 job. The useful half-life of skillsets is shrinking with the adoption of new technologies. Creativity and leadership skills are now valued and encouraged across a broader swath of the company org chart. Mid- and late-career individuals are considering new opportunities that will see them delay retirement.

Gaining an edge in the fight for talent

And through it all, employers across Canada are faced with the lowest unemployment rates in four decades. 

“There is a real fight out there for talent,” said Doug Wotherspoon, Algonquin’s Executive Director of Business Development. “Employers are having a tough time attracting and keeping people. But when they do put more focus on the development of their teams it has a big impact on performance, morale, employee retention and the quality of the customer experience that they deliver.”

Whether it is the individual who wants to enrich and expand their abilities, or an employer who wants to invest in people, what is the best approach?

Over the past 52 years, Algonquin has built a strong brand in Eastern Ontario for applied learning that helps individuals launch that first career. Continuing education is also part of the college’s DNA. In support of that, Algonquin already had a corporate training facility in downtown Ottawa at Constitution Square.

With so many changes and so many pressures facing the world of work, the college realized that it needed to chart a bold new direction to serve the needs of the Ottawa community for life-long learning. 


Driving creative thinking

The new centre at 700 Sussex is located at Rideau Street, across from a new light-rail station and on the edge of the ByWard Market. The 8,800-square-foot modern learning environment features enterprise-grade connectivity and digital tools. Flexible floorplans and moveable walls enable training sessions with as few as eight to as many as 100 participants. Unlike the previous space in a commercial office tower, there is much more flexibility for evening and weekend programming, to suit anyone’s schedule. There are busy spaces for networking and collaboration and quiet spaces for work and study. 

Algonquin College“We have re-imagined the space and the environment,” Wotherspoon said. “If you want people to be creative, you have to put them in a creative environment. One that recognizes the value of creativity as well as the importance of a clear mind.”

In keeping with Algonquin’s pedigree in applied learning, the emphasis is on providing a hands-on and practical experience that yields results participants can apply on the job today.

“When you are making an investment in learning and development, you are not looking for a 10-year payback, but a 10-day payback,” Wotherspoon said. “Our goal is to embed a culture of learning in our clients’ organizations, to drive continuous improvement and employee engagement.”

Future of Work Speaker Series

The Future of Work Speaker Series is designed to help leaders in organizations of all kinds understand the shifting landscape and optimize their workplaces for the dynamic world of tomorrow’s work.

Inaugural speaker:

Konval Matin, chief of staff to the chief product officer, Shopify

Topic: Embracing change in ambiguity

We’ve all heard that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” but what does that really mean? And how can you tangibly and intentionally build an organization where your teams are customer-focused, results-driven and engaged?

Konval will explore how to go from hiring to building an internal system that actually supports and rewards the right behaviours to succeed.

Date and location:

January 23, 2020
7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Algonquin College Learning Centre
700 Sussex Dr.
(613) 727-7729