Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce “made-in-Canada” talent: the highly qualified and skilled workers that Canadian businesses and organizations seek. Without better labour market forecasting, Canada cannot build an inclusive talent pool for the 21st century workplace. We present four ideas below:
- Direct Statistics Canada to create, deliver and disseminate high-quality, current, relevant and comparable labour market information.
This information will benefit learners and employers and encourage informed choices about careers and jobs by providing data on skills-in-demand, employment outcomes by education type, demand for work-integrated learning, apprenticeship completion rates
2. Create a Youth Entrepreneur Seed Fund to support students enrolled in post-secondary institutions to acquire vital entrepreneurial skills.
Polytechnics and colleges offer many services, courses and centres to help young entrepreneurs. Current federal support for young entrepreneurs exists as repayable loans only; we propose a grant program for students working under the guidance of an instructor or mentor.
3. Create an innovation-focused internship program connecting polytechnic and college undergraduate students with firms and non-profit organizations.
This work-integrated learning initiative will build applied research and innovation skills, as well as enhance graduate employment outcomes, while also addressing employer need for workers with innovation skills.
4. Expand existing research talent programs at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to increase participation by polytechnic and college students.
Evidence shows that real-world research is conducted by collaborative teams, across the credential spectrum. Yet, programs designed to mentor the next generation of researchers are primarily open to graduate and post-doctoral researchers because of a narrow interpretation of terms and conditions. These programs should include the talent produced by polytechnics and colleges.
A polytechnic education builds resilient and resourceful workers for the 21st century economy. These talented learners should be included in any government action for equipping youth with entrepreneurial and creative skills.