The Bank of Canada is holding off on another interest rate hike, but Canadian businesses aren’t out of the woods yet. As Frances Donald, Global Chief Economist and Strategist at Manulife Investment Management, told BNN Bloomberg, “Most indicators from jobs to credit activity to sentiment suggest that next quarter — Q3, where we are right now — is worse than last quarter. So the odds of a recession are substantially higher.” 

At Curious Public, we’re urging organizations to maintain their learning and development budgets in the face of new challenges for the sake of business continuity and resiliency. 

The Insurance Institute of Canada reports that most people who will retire in the next five years are in senior and mid-management positions. In other words, we’re about to lose a lot of senior-level skills from the Canadian workforce at a time when almost a quarter of our country’s SMEs say they’re not confident they have the right skilled people to grow their business. 

Canadian organizations — and their leaders — must find a way to meaningfully pass on institutional knowledge and build the younger generations’ skills over the next few years — recession or not. 

Our team at Curious Public has been thinking about the three focus areas leaders will want to emphasize in their organization’s learning and development strategies for the remainder of 2023 and early 2024: 

1. Communications Upskilling

LinkedIn lists “Communications” as companies’ second most coveted skill in its recent Workplace Learning Report 2023.

It’s not hard to understand why. From business writing to client presentations to investor and fundraising pitches, communications are a core business driver. An organization stocked with exceptional communication skills can outperform the competition because it can effectively connect with its target audience and drive action. Communication is an important skill for leaders to build organization-wide, especially with our newest workforce entrants: Gen Z. 

Workforce Institute found that Gen Z feels prepared to satisfy entry-level expectations like showing up on time and completing tasks. But the pandemic-scarred Zs don’t feel equipped with critical communication and human skills like conflict resolution, negotiation, networking and public speaking. These are the skills an organization’s workforce needs in spades for overall growth. 

Leaders can’t upskill for everything when budgets are tight. So, they need to tie all upskilling opportunities to their organization’s business strategy and growth. That makes  “Communications” an upskill ‘must-have’ — particularly among organizations’ most junior people. 


2. Leadership and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training

An effective succession plan identifies a company’s next generation of leaders and outlines action steps for building their skills. 

That’s music to the ears of the 71 per cent of surveyed Millennials who are eager to leave their organizations after only two years. Their reason: the organization wasn’t developing their leadership skills. 

Critics of the generation will consider this stat as just one more drop in the “entitled Millennial” bucket. But it’s hard to deny the need for empowering Millennials to lead when they now make up the largest demographic in our workforce. And will be the ones at the helm through the next decade’s continued workforce disruption and greater numbers of Gen Z employees — who already report feeling highly anxious and ill-prepared to be managed by others in the workplace. 

It’s fair to say that Millennials need more training to prepare them for the dynamic decade ahead. But that training is an opportunity missed if it doesn’t focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and anti-racism. 

“It’s imperative to train leaders for our diverse and globally connected reality,” says Dr. Denise O’Neil Green, an international leader in EDI, anti-racism, and transformational leadership.

Dr. Green is the CEO and Principal of her consulting practice, Denise O’Neil Green Consulting, which is a part of the Curious Public preferred partnership network.

“We know cultivating a diverse, inclusive and anti-racist workforce is good for an organization’s bottom line, its retention and talent development, and most importantly, its customers and stakeholders who demand it,” says Green. “But true change makers for the future will be leaders who champion EDI and anti-racism values while developing, sponsoring and advancing a diversity of talent within their organizations.” 

“But true change makers for the future will be leaders who champion EDI and anti-racism values while developing, sponsoring and advancing a diversity of talent within their organizations.” 


3. Training for the Responsible Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI)

Your people are using AI — whether your company has training (and a policy) for it or not. So the question becomes, are you helping them use it responsibly? 

KPMG recently surveyed over five thousand Canadians and found that 20 per cent used GAI tools like ChatGPT for work and schooling. The survey also discovered that less than half consistently fact-checked their work after using these tools. Close to a quarter of respondents disclosed that they entered their employer’s information, proprietary data, financial numbers or supply chain data into GAI prompts. And two-thirds of respondents said they claimed work produced by GAI as their own. 

Organizations can’t ignore this technology, nor should they. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 cites technology literacy as the third fastest-growing skill. The report also notes that training employees to use AI and big data is a top training priority for companies. 

Organizations need their people to learn how to harness GAI technology. But savvy leaders should also recognize that they cannot risk intellectual property, client agreements, reputations, data leaks or cybersecurity breaches to achieve this end. That’s why they must consider a GAI training strategy and policy for their organization.  

The ideal GAI training should cover understanding the GAI landscape, best practices for using AI tools for business communications, and hands-on activities to instill learning and adoption quickly. At least those are our views at Curious Public and how we’ve created our training program, AI Best Practices for Communicators.

If you lead an organization, you must ensure it can succeed in your absence. That means identifying your future leaders and helping them grow the skills they need. No matter what your organization’s economic situation is today, your future success depends on it.


To learn about Curious Public’s Communications training programs, including AI Best Practices for Communications, or to learn about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training offered by Denise O’Neil Green Consulting, check out our training workshops or contact us at