York University takes academic program to Markham with new space at IBM Canada

York University is continuing to expand its footprint in Markham, Ont., by offering academic programming for the first time at IBM Canada’s headquarters.

The classes will provide York University students the opportunity to benefit from a high-profile and dynamic environment where they can learn among academics, small and large businesses, entrepreneurs, startups and developers. The new space opened this month at the IBM headquarters while plans continued to establish a York University campus in Markham Centre.

Dignitaries from different levels of government join senior leaders from York University and IBM for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the York University space in IBM’s headquarters in Markham

Dignitaries from different levels of government join senior leaders from York University and IBM for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the York University space in IBM’s headquarters in Markham

“York University is committed to better serving the growing population of 18- to 24-year-olds seeking post-secondary education in York Region, and to support entrepreneurship in the region through cross-sectoral collaboration,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “York and IBM have a long history of supporting innovation, research and development, and we are excited to have the opportunity to expand experiential learning for our students through this new initiative.”

The need for this type of innovative cross-sectoral collaboration is increasing.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton speaks to more than 100 guests at the official opening event for York University's space in IBM's headquarters in Markham

“We know that two-thirds of all emerging jobs will require higher education and about 50 per cent of all existing jobs are being impacted by automation and artificial intelligence,” said Lenton in her remarks delivered at an event held at the IBM headquarters on Sept. 25. As such, she noted, many current jobs will be replaced with new jobs.

“York University is responding to emerging curricular needs for new programming and to help workers upskill and reskill to ensure that Markham, York Region and Ontario have the talent needed for the future,” said Lenton.

Third- and fourth-year School of Administrative Studies students in York University's Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) are taking bachelor of commerce courses at the new location and looking forward to the introduction of work-integrated learning opportunities.

“Opening this space has always been about our students,” said J.J. McMurtry, interim dean of LA&PS. “In the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, we are always striving for better, more innovative ways to give students the education they need and to prepare them for their future careers, no matter what they go on to do. Today is really a celebration of them and the tiny seed of an idea that started in our Faculty and became this space. It could not have been made possible without the commitment and leadership of many of you from across the University and at IBM.”

J.J. McMurtry, interim dean of LA&PS

Activities for the space that are scheduled for this fall include networking events and lunchtime seminars for York University students and IBM employees. The program is also expected to have IBM employees as guest lecturers in relevant classes, to share knowledge and experience that directly supports the curriculum. Discussions are underway to expand internship opportunities for York students and explore how the micro-credentials of learning badges already offered by IBM may augment and support learning opportunities for students.

“York University and IBM have been strong collaborators for several decades, spanning research and development, teaching and learning initiatives," said Beth Bell, vice-president, enterprise and commercial, IBM Canada. "Today, we are excited to extend that partnership and welcome York University to our headquarters in Markham. Partnerships such as these are demonstrative of how cities, education institutions and technology companies can come together to shape the learning experience for students and build the skills of tomorrow.”

Markham is already home to Innovation York, which is located at IBM, and to YSpace, which opened in downtown Markham in 2018. This new initiative with IBM further expands the University’s presence in Markham and York Region.

The technology incubator ventureLAB, which supports tech startups, is also located in IBM Canada’s headquarters, along with IBM Innovation Space, a hub to more than 40 tech companies.

Collaborative environments such as these create a strong opportunity for students with access to expertise, resources, and technologies needed to grow and enhance their skills.

“This now gives students an additional opportunity to study closer to home at IBM, one of Markham and Canada’s leading technology companies, and Markham’s largest employer," said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. "Markham is a hub for talent in the heart of York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster. I applaud this collaboration; York University students will benefit from the opportunity to learn in a high-profile and dynamic environment among some of the best innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs.”

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