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Impacting enrolment, employment, and empowerment at The PIE Live: North America

On the second day of The PIE Live: North America conference, Centennial College’s VIP Room was buzzing with lively conversations amongst well-acquainted peers in anticipation of the Global Workforce Development session led by Centennial together with Fanshawe College.

Charmaine Hack (second right), Vice President, Strategic Enrolment Management, articulated how Centennial uses data in decision-making. Photo: The PIE News

Data-informed recruitment strategies are essential to compelling motivated students to enrol

As a headline sponsor for the event in Toronto, Canada, Centennial took the opportunity to unveil its newest brand platform and narrative. Its driving purpose is to help every student “Get Ready” – to compete, thrive, and seize every opportunity.

“Our bold declaration compels students to get ready to reach their potential and to succeed – no matter where they come from or what they’re pursuing,” said Dr. Craig Stephenson, Centennial’s President and CEO. “Centennial pledges to give learners the unique skills, experience and perspective they’ll need to set themselves apart from the rest.”

Data-informed recruitment strategies are essential to compelling motivated students to enrol. In an earlier panel, Charmaine Hack, Vice President, Strategic Enrolment Management, articulated how Centennial uses data in decision-making. “We look at the entire journey, which starts with the first discovery. How do you learn about our college? How do you determine if this is the right place for you?”

“Canada, particularly Ontario, is known for the partnership table”

In 2021-2022, Centennial supported 27,184 students, including 12,994 international students from 139 countries. In fall 2022, the top source country – India – represents one-third of all new students at Centennial. Understanding diversified student populations and a more unpredictable higher education landscape, Hack concludes with an imperative.

“It’s more important than ever to make evidence-based decisions around resource allocation, target markets, and how to identify, attract and retain good fit students for our institution, so they are successful at the other end,” she said.

Virginia Macchiavello, Associate Vice President in the Strategic Enrolment Management Division at Centennial, continued the conversation the following day in the Global Workforce Development session by noting, “COVID has catapulted us outside of the box; now there is no box.”

By 2030, the demand for skilled workers is projected to outstrip supply, leading to a global talent shortage of more than 85.2 million people. (ManpowerGroup, Employment Outlook Survey Q3 2021). “The key is recruiting to the skills gap so we can prepare graduates for jobs,” Macchiavello remarked. “There is a skill gap in Canada, the Americas and globally. This is our opportunity to impact our economy and the economies of the world.”

“Canada, particularly Ontario, is known for the partnership table,” she says, stressing that Centennial students get the skills they need to succeed because of the “partnership between government, educational institutions and industry.”

Notably, Centennial was rated #1 in Canada and #4 globally for “employability” in the 2021 International Student Barometer (ISB) survey conducted by i-graduate. Unique offerings such as the Centennial Leadership Academy, Global Citizenship and Equity curriculum, enriching co-op placements, and upskilling programming demonstrate that the college goes beyond technical skills to support the art of living a fulfilling, successful life.

Centennial seeks partners to create sustainable growth opportunities and build powerful pathways to employment. “I am a believer in doing this together. Not just as Canadians and provinces, but as countries and by sector,” Macchiavello told her audience.

Andrew Petrou, Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and External Relations, and Chair of the Board for the Downsview Aerospace Innovation & Research (DAIR) hub, provided a sector-specific view of the power of partnership.

“The vision of DAIR is to be the world-leading aerospace engineering hub,” he said. It brings together academics, companies, research organisations and government stakeholders around a shared goal: to advance Canada’s global aerospace industry leadership. “Centennial is the founding member of DAIR, along with Bombardier and the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS),” he said before sharing an example of co-operation involving Toronto Metropolitan University.

“What can we do to impact the world?”

“Two graduates wanted to start their own company with an idea for a small chip that could check an engine. Aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney said, ‘prove it works, and we’ll think about it.’ They came to DAIR, and we connected them to Centennial because the college has engines. They asked, can you test it? And we did. That incredible technology was created and validated. Pratt & Whitney picked it up, and the company grew.”

More than 1,500 industry partners help shape the curriculum and learning outcomes in over 200 Centennial programs. Centennial also has an international footprint with a learning site in Suzhou, China, and 12 offshore offices, including a new one opening in Mauritius in 2023.

With opportunities for growth and co-operation in areas of study abroad, micro-credentials and online learning, Macchiavello poses a fundamental question: “What can we do to impact the world?”

This is a sponsored article from Centennial College. For information on Centennial’s programs and partnership opportunities, contact or visit 

About the author: Greg Long, Recruitment Manager, International Digital Engagement at Centennial College, was part of the team contributing to Centennial’s presence at The PIE Live: North America in Toronto.

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