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Innovation with Robotics

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/17/2016 1471465700
FIRST Robotics Canada (a non-profit organization) is also currently working diligently and tirelessly to support and prepare the next generation to be .... Read more

FIRST Robotics Canada (a non-profit organization) is also currently working diligently and tirelessly to support and prepare the next generation to be innovators and thought-leaders of the future. Through FIRST programs and initiatives, students are becoming more skilled and prepared to face the challenges of the future. With a stronger connection and increased support, FIRST could play an even greater role in preparing the next generation to make Canada great.

“Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians. We need to move forward with fresh ideas and a joint action plan that will make innovation a national priority and put Canada on a firm path to long-term economic growth.” –The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

We at FIRST whole-heartedly agree with Minister Bains approach to innovation. We currently see a talent pool of kids and students who, if given the opportunity and know-how, will inherently approach problem solving with an innovative approach. Currently, youth are not widely given that opportunity which results in a lack of a prepared and innovative leaders and workforce.

This is where FIRST Robotics Canada programs make a difference. FIRST programs teach kids and youth the necessary skills and strategy that inspire fresh ideas, innovation, and creative problem solving. If more students are exposed to, and participate in, FIRST programs, they will cultivate the skills and habits for the future that lead to unlimited potential and opportunities. These are the leaders who will help put Canada on the firm path to economic growth and sustainability.

With increased support for FIRST programs, the benefits include:

  • More student participation in FIRST programs, resulting in more students prepared for a future where creative problem solving is critical
  • Cultivating a future workforce of leaders who believe in teamwork, encourage diversity, and inspire creativity 
  • Developing and teaching students the skills and know-how to embrace challenges with an innovative mindset
  • Showcasing and proving that we’re surrounded by talent who will have the competencies to compete in a digital world, lead global partnerships and change, encourage entrepreneurship, and accelerate growth in Canadian business
  • Increased collaboration between organizations and corporations involved in FIRST and kids and youth across Canada

This kind of program truly makes a difference in cultivating the leaders and innovators of the future.

Credit: FIRST Robotics Canada

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National youth STEM and innovation development system - like hockey

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/02/2016 1467490212
Studies over the past 15 years have shown that about two-thirds of Canadian kids ages 12-18 think STEM is important, interesting, and fun. Canadian st .... Read more

Studies over the past 15 years have shown that about two-thirds of Canadian kids ages 12-18 think STEM is important, interesting, and fun. Canadian students rank in the top 10 of 65 OECD countries on international tests of science achievement. Our kids like, and are good at STEM.

Yet, despite this potential, only about 30% of Canadian high school students take STEM courses after grade 10, limiting their access to opportunities in STEM-related fields. No surprise that in 2014 the Canadian Council of Academies (CCA) reported that Canada’s total employment in STEM occupations was just 30% – 22nd out of 37 countries. Do our kids just lose interest in high school? Perhaps, but then how do we explain that 93% of Canadian adults are very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries and technological developments (1st out of 33 countries), or that 32% visited a science centre/museum in the previous year (2nd out of 39 countries) – according to the same CCA report.

We’re good at getting Canadian kids interested in STEM. Over 100 organizations and institutions, from local to national, offer school presentations, workshops, camps, experiences, challenges, and competitions. They reach a huge number of students, but the percentage of high school students taking STEM courses has remained stubbornly around 30% for years. Canada has no lack of STEM promotion programs – we lack a national strategy and coordination.

PromoScience, through NSERC, provides federal funding for many of these programs – $4.8M over 3 years to 43 organizations in 2015. Grants are awarded through a peer-review process; however, there’s no analysis for redundancy, imbalances, and gaps – or even a program inventory to analyze. As a result, there’s no strategy underlying this funding, or benchmarks to measure progress; the best-written proposals get funded.

Canada produces great hockey players – and now Olympic athletes – because we have a development system. It starts by getting lots of young kids participating for fun. From there, those with ability and passion (and/or ‘enthusiastic’ parents) progress through a series of levels that build skills and identify top prospects. Canada has lots of Timbits-type STEM programs, but no system to guide those kids or parents when they ask, “What’s next?”

I propose that Canada build on its excellent STEM promotion capacity to establish a national youth STEM and innovation development system, similar to those for sports, to cultivate not only interest and excitement, but engagement, skills, and excellence. A national youth STEM and innovation advisory panel – leaders from the national youth STEM and innovation organizations; representatives of regional, provincial, and local organizations; and young Canadians – should be appointed to guide the process. They would start by building a national inventory of programs and then analyze to identify systemic strengths and weaknesses, recommend targets, and evaluate progress.

If we’re serious about developing youth with skills for the future economy, let’s get Canada’s youth STEM promotion organizations working together, rather than competing with each other for funding and profile. It works for hockey.

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Innovation vs. Entrepreneurship

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/12/2016 1468327284
If we want to be a nation of Innovators then I think we need to also talk about the connection and differences between entrepreneurs and innovators.  .... Read more

If we want to be a nation of Innovators then I think we need to also talk about the connection and differences between entrepreneurs and innovators. 

I run a summer intensive entrepreneurship program for youth at Algonquin College called SUMMIT. As I've shared with them, all entrepreneurs are innovators but not all innovators are entrepreneurs. I describe entrepreneurship as a riding a roller coaster wrapped in chaos. You have to be the right kind of person to jump aboard that ride. But not everyone needs to jump on board. The entrepreneurs that start the businesses and are interested in that ride need a talent pool of innovators to hire and inspire them. Although, we need to support entrepreneurs we also need to breed innovators. 

The Conference Board of Canada has outlined a set of Innovation Skills that includes: creativity & problem solving, communication & collaboration, risk assessment and risk taking, and implementation skills. I think these are the skills that need to be infused in our education system and organizations at all levels.

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Create Core Educational Policies and Build Expert Teams to Create Evidence-Based Educational Technologies, Learning Environments, and The World’s Leading Mobile Education Platform to Assist Teachers and Students Nationally and Worldwide

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/31/2016 1472624552
The learning environments and educational approaches utilized in the majority of classrooms across our country (particularly publicly funded post-seco .... Read more

The learning environments and educational approaches utilized in the majority of classrooms across our country (particularly publicly funded post-secondary institutions) are based on educational practices developed hundreds of years ago before digital technology was available. This creates a situation where a minority of students get access to effective teachers, while the majority must suffer from poorly delivered education based on ineffective educational practices which often ignore basic pedagogy. This is a systemic issue of educational inequality (prevalent throughout our institutions), which I would argue is a fundamental root issue in Canadian society. Since many citizens are largely unaware that this is even an issue, the problem remains unaddressed as other progressive nations jump ahead in this area of innovation. High quality, evidence based education should be a right for all people, and we are not currently progressing towards that goal at the pace that is required within our current national and global situation.

The government has made post-secondary education more affordable and accessible, but there is still no standard of quality and very little application of evidence based educational technology and learning environments. There is plenty of research that has been conducted in key universities that proves the effectiveness of progressive educational approaches (although many universities do not yet have programs offered in the Learning Sciences).

To attract and keep the world’s best talent, Canada needs a clear goal: to become a world leader in digital education technology (particularly evidence based solutions that are scalable) that can assist individual learners as well as blended learning environments, both throughout our country and throughout the world. Canada should aim to create value for the entire world by creating cross-platform applications that will work well across mobile and desktop platforms (likely with the focus being on mobile to benefit the most people). Canada should see evidence based education as a right to all people, and should aim to provide it to all of its citizens as well as people in third world countries. There are many people (in Canada and throughout the world) who don’t have access effective schools or effective teachers, which leads to a lower quality of life.

The best way to support startups and growing companies is to focus on effective 21st century education for all Canadians. That means focusing on areas such as basic computational thinking, problem solving, programming, health education, project-based learning, basic learning sciences education, educational technology development, and harnessing creativity and collaboration by the practice of creating solutions that add measurable value to people’s lives and the environment. This is the basis for creating an entrepreneurial and creative society. If students undergo project-based learning using digital technologies, public-private industry partnerships will naturally emerge, and startups will begin to flourish.

Canada has a strength in ICT technologies, but very few attempts are currently made to retain the talent that we produce. The people who leave Canada to work at top technology companies are usually motivated learners who frequently engage in self-directed learning. If Canada can produce the best educational technologies, these technologies can scale up and target everyone all the way from our children to the top technologists to improve their learning efficiency as they learn new technologies. It is only natural that they will then be interested in being part of this educational movement and want to contribute tools and content to the new educational platforms that are created. Since this goal has the higher purpose of improving the lives of Canadians and people worldwide, people will likely want to participate if it also means becoming global leaders in this emerging market. As more devices and people are added to the internet, having the best mobile education platforms will ensure Canada’s economic viability moving forward in the 21st century.

Creating a demand for research in educational development will spur scientific growth and excellence within our higher educational institutions. There is already good research being done which can be leveraged, but implementing those findings and testing which approaches are the most effective will be a scientific exercise. This will involve taking all the leading innovations and creating a landscape of cooperative competition among educators and technologists as we learn which approaches are the most effective in which situations. If Canada conducts this research and publishes the findings, other countries will begin to look to Canada for the best insights into learning sciences and effective education.

We can also leverage these educational platforms to inform our citizens about the most pressing issues we face as a nation and a species. By teaching all people how to use technology effectively, companies will naturally start to grow. By teaching all people about clean growth and the environment, our startups can have a positive impact on the earth. By teaching all people about local and global issues and creating effective impact, our effort can be directed in the most beneficial way. This provides the perfect foundation for Canada to become a strong competitor in today’s digital world. Delivering distributed educational solutions that really work is the one of the best value propositions that Canada can offer to the rest of the world.

If Canada is successful in creating scalable educational technology that can be easily delivered to other countries, clusters and partnerships will naturally emerge throughout the world. Canada can utilize its progressive political situation to help lift the world out of educational poverty, which is in line with the goals of the UN. Most of the other large issues in the world are arguably symptomatic of the root problem: inaccessible or ineffective education. Mobile technologies can be flexible to work in situations where not many devices are available or there is low internet connectivity. For example, paper materials can be printed based on the curriculum content stored within the platform, which can also be stored locally on devices if there is no connection. Or, the application can enter a mode where only the teacher uses it to guide lessons and manage student learning and progress. This can help fix the teaching gap that exists in counties around the world as it would not require teachers to be fully qualified to deliver material that has been proven to be effective in such situations, such as flipped/mastery/personalized/adaptive learning technologies (and so on). I could dive into the details of effective educational approaches here, but it is hard to summarize years of research and innovation that has happened in the top private institutions around the world in several paragraphs. Of course, I would be happy to provide additional resources and research, as well as several reports I’ve written that contain my own ideas of how to implement such educational platforms and environments.

Creating educational policy that ensures the availability of evidence-based educational technology and learning environments to all people helps Canadians greatly in the short term, but even more so in the long term. If we combine the diversity of skills that Canadians already possess with the ability to create effective technologies, Canada will produce innovations across a large spectrum of sectors. This is likely the ultimate way to stimulate economic development, create jobs and improve the lives of as many people as possible.

It is only a matter of time before coding education becomes mandatory within Canadian schools, or at the very least widely adopted. By investing in innovative educational technologies, Canada will not only be avoiding the pitfalls of the current approaches to coding education, but will also prevent us from having to outsource the job to other countries to provide often untested coding educational tools to us. This will save us money and produce value in our economy since the relationship will work the other way around. Although it is a good idea to provide free education the people who need it most (such as people in low-income situations inside and outside Canada), we can also create economic growth by selling to other wealthy nations. This will be a natural result of ubiquitous evidence based education which empowers all Canadians with the digital and entrepreneurial skills needed in the 21st century.

If ineffective coding education is provided to new students, they may fail to properly learn these digital technologies and simply assume that they are incapable of understanding core concepts in this area. When this happens, we lose another potential innovator and the person’s ability to create change in the world is significantly diminished. What we need is effective coding education that has been developed using the insights already available in our research sector.

Instead of simply throwing money at this problem, we should aim to create highly effective teams of educators who have extensive expertise in the areas of pedagogy, progressive educational technology and learning environments. These teams should be paired with our best technologists to create powerful educational platforms that meet a list of criteria for providing the most effective education possible. The technology should be low-cost, and evidence based. It should be a general solution, which allows our leading educators to easily insert their educational content to create courses and modules that can then undergo iterative improvement as they are utilized and tested among the population. After educators insert their educational content onto the platform, this content can be delivered to students with applications that leverage provide techniques and learning models, such as flipped classrooms or mastery learning models. For example, software that allows students to input data while watching videos (such as questions, confusion points, and notes) can assist in Flipped Classroom approaches. Software that breaks up learning modules into smaller parts with generated quizzes can assist in implementing Mastery Learning environments, or Adaptive Learning technologies. After the data is stored in the system, it can be output to the user in different ways because of the flexibility of software, and new technologies can be leveraged as time goes on with pre-existing educational data, possibly scanned in from raw written course material. In fact, it is almost impossible to predict all of the innovations in this area that Canadians will produce once they are given the skills and direction which is desperately needed.

Although the creation of a general purpose platform (which facilitates easy educational content creation) will be the most effective solution for tackling this issue, desperate short term measures are required. In my view, the most important things to develop first are the following:

  1. A set of online materials and courses which will educate Canadian teachers on evidence based educational technologies and learning environments. A condensed course containing the key educational concepts is also needed, which works will on mobile as well as PC platforms. This will allow our teachers to understand the basics of high quality education, and dispel harmful misconceptions that many teachers currently have (for example, teachers fear that these technologies aim to replace them, when in reality they are meant to empower and assist them, make them more effective at their jobs, and improve their experience teaching students). Of course, these materials can and should be available to all Canadians, as it is their right to understand effective education and what we know about it.
  2. A set of online materials and courses which can be used to effectively teach people basic coding and computation thinking. Again, these courses should be condensed to the core concepts and skills, and should focus on getting the student immediately engaged with the practice of solving problems and coding. Measures should be taken to ensure that these educational experiences are engaging and effective, to ensure that the majority of people can successfully obtain and retain the material. Active learning is extremely important in this area, which leads directly to project based learning (this is one of most effective ways to teach this subject: by having students work on creative projects that involve to their existing areas of interest or expertise, using coding as a tool to accomplish other goals). The content delivered can also be scaled up and down to be useful for elementary schools, high schools, post-secondary, retraining our workforce, as well as any Canadian with access to a mobile device or PC. Just like normal written language, coding and technology literacy can be applied to almost any discipline and is at the heart of innovation, giving citizens the tools to empower themselves, Canada, and ultimately the rest of the world.
  3. There are several other core areas that also need covered such as 21st century skills (including the four Cs), as well as environmental, world issues and personal health education. Basic reading, writing, mathematics and science are also desperately needed in the global community, as well as in a subset of our own population.
  4. Progressive educational policy to spur the development of these educational technologies, as well as their implementation in learning environments. Schools and teachers do not necessarily need to be required to implement the solutions supported by these policies. Instead, educational materials and applications that will educate them of these issues and technologies should be developed, tested and distributed. Incentives might be provided to teachers to accelerate widespread adoption. We should aim to create awareness of these issues and ideas, so that solutions can be developed sooner and more effectively. This is probably a better approach than enforcing solutions onto teachers (even though many are already evidence based), which could cause a negative reaction. If students are informed on these issues as well (based on clear direction proposed by the Canadian government) they will naturally seek the highest quality education available to them. Currently, students are mostly uninformed on these issues, and are usually only seeking to be awarded the best resume qualifications for a high job status. Instead, they could be focusing on finding the right learning environments that will allow them to develop and cultivate useful skills that enable them to provide value for themselves and society. From that foundation, Canadians will be able to pursue their interests more often based on the abundance created by a more digitally progressive society.

 

 

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National youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship celebration event

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 06/30/2016 1467314950
Canadian high school students regularly achieve world-class results in international STEM competitions. In 2015 – and again in 2016 – youn .... Read more

Canadian high school students regularly achieve world-class results in international STEM competitions. In 2015 – and again in 2016 – young Canadians won the top award (and the US$75,000 cash prize) at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), topping 1,700 students from 75 countries. Canadians have won the Sanofi International Biogenius Challenge, FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships, and numerous STEM Olympiad competitions from astronomy to mathematics. Canadians have been top 15 finalists (from over 10,000 global entries) in the Google Science Fair almost every year since it began in 2011 – and won top awards in 2013 and 2014.

Most Canadians – and particularly our youth – are completely unaware. It’s as if our world junior hockey team won and no-one noticed. That doesn’t happen because Canada has a vibrant hockey culture. Thanks to Vancouver 2010 and Own the Podium, we’re developing an Olympic culture. But we need a STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship culture.

As in sports, a STEM culture needs heroes – rising stars that young Canadians recognize and emulate. When 16-year-old Victoria BC inventor Ann Makosinski appeared on the Jimmy Fallon Show with her hand-heat-powered flashlight – and again a year later with a cell phone charging travel mug – kids noticed. Peltier tile-powered devices – many built by girls – appeared at science fairs across Canada. Building a science and innovation culture is no different to building a hockey or Olympic culture; celebrating excellence and achievement on the national stage and in the media is an essential component.

In 2010, U.S. President Obama initiated what became an annual tradition – the White House Science Fair. Over the past six years, this event has celebrated the winners of a broad range of youth STEM and entrepreneurship competitions at what the President has called, “the most fun day of the year.”

I propose creating an annual event, hosted on Parliament Hill, to recognize Canadian winners of national and international youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship competitions and other young Canadian achievers. They would be invited to share their work with the Prime Minister / Minister of Youth, Minister of Science, Key Opinion Leaders, STEM-related government officials, and most importantly, the media.

Most kids aren’t going to become professional or Olympic athletes, but wanting to inspires and motivates. Let’s celebrate Canada’s youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship heroes and role models.

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National Youth Science and Innovation Network

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/27/2016 1469642783
Stimulating interest in and supporting a national network for youth to explore hands-on, project-based science. Canada's response to the technologica .... Read more

Stimulating interest in and supporting a national network for youth to explore hands-on, project-based science.

Canada's response to the technological and space race in the 1960s was the development of local, regional and national opportunities to foster and showcase the innovativeness of youth in science - science fairs. Over five decades, this network - primarily driven by volunteers and teachers - has helped develop some of Canada's (and the world's) leaders in business, research, science and social impact. From Roberta Bondar to Michael Serbinis to Marc Kielburger to Raymond Wang, science fairs have helped shape the impact Canada has on the world.

Investing in a proven program that encourages youth from curiosity through to discovery will ensure Canada's success in innovation, skills development and will creates the nation's future economic leaders.

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Support for teachers

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/07/2016 1467919299
Tags: education  educators 
Incorporate entrepreneurship training into the professional development of teachers and guidance counsellors. Celebrate teachers and counsellors wh .... Read more
  • Incorporate entrepreneurship training into the professional development of teachers and guidance counsellors.
  • Celebrate teachers and counsellors who expose students to entrepreneurship, through entrepreneur fairs, local business crawls and career days.
  • Create ‘sharing platforms’ for teachers with tools (e.g. database of volunteers for entrepreneurs-in-residence, or speakers with entrepreneurial stories), lesson plans and online forums to seek advice and share best practices.

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Make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/09/2016 1470776531
People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individu .... Read more

People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individuals who see how to do things differently. A successful innovation strategy must therefore start by fostering the talent, skills and opportunities required for potential innovators to thrive.

The need for innovators intensifies as the economy continues to move towards an innovation-focused, high-value service base. Already, Canada’s service economy employs about three quarters of Canadians and accounts for 70.8% of GDP — a 5% increase since 2000. Financial services, environmental services, water-management services, and IT services are all areas where Canada is a world-leader, thanks in part to the innovators who have built world-class firms in these growing sectors.

The trend towards an economy built on innovative services is intensifying as the knowledge economy evolves. We are entering what has been called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” where disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology are quickly transforming the ways we live and work. As a result, the skills Canadians need for career success are also changing, and employers increasingly demand workers with a wide range of skills and functional knowledge.

An effective innovation strategy will respond to these trends by supporting the effective education and training of future innovators. To do so, Canada needs to increase the number of work-integrated learning opportunities for students in order to grow talent and skills, and to prepare the next generation for a rapidly changing economy. In order to “futureproof” a workforce, the World Economic Forum reports that “government and businesses will need to profoundly change their approach to education, skills and employment,” and they recommend enhanced collaboration between businesses, governments and education providers in developing 21st century curriculums.

There are some caveats: students should be paid; the learning opportunities should be relevant; and the experiences should be meaningful. The idea is that the opportunities are collaborative, and mutually beneficial. By connecting young minds with dynamic Canadian businesses, we can grow Canadian talent for innovation, strengthen the employability of post-secondary graduates, and provide businesses with the specialized knowledge, skilled talent and fresh perspectives they will need to adapt and innovate.

If Canada is serious about becoming an innovation leader, we need to make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda.

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Summer Science Camps - Age Inappropriate Science for kids

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/05/2016 1467744407
Summer time offers children an opportunity to play and participate in learning activities free of deadlines, exams and school routine.  Kids are fas .... Read more

Summer time offers children an opportunity to play and participate in learning activities free of deadlines, exams and school routine.  Kids are fascinated by nature, biology, space and just about any field of science.  They love to ask `why`and `how`and `how come`. Their thirst for knowledge can be exhausting as it rarely has a limit.   Children have curiosity that is not tempered by self-imposed age appropriate limitations and are equally eager to learn about worms, DNA, flight, stars, travel to Mars, etc.   They have ambition that is driven by curiosity and knowledge that stimulates ambition to answer questions that are sometimes relentless and complex.   Parents are sometimes challenged to answer their questions let alone give them an opportunity to have hands on experience learning about science, with a scientist (engineer, informatician, etc.) in a lab equipped for university level science, engineering and technology. 

Canadians have invested in developing world-class universities and colleges that are populated with staff and students eager to share their knowledge.   Universities hope to recruit future students and are increasingly opening their labs and facilities to children who visit to learn about what universities could offer their curious and ambitious minds.  During the summer months universities are often closed, or activities in departments scaled back, as students take a break for the summer months.  There is an opportunity to develop a program to fund universities to develop summer camp programs for children who are curious about science, engineering and technology.   Children can be offered age-inappropriate science, or science that is taught to students at university.   Giving universities funding to hire students to develop activities and projects for children that visit the university summer science camp provides meaningful employment, engagement of future students, and full utilization of university facilities for community enrichment.

Elementary schools and High schools look with envy at the well-equipped molecular biology labs, engineering testing facilities, biology labs, computational labs, etc. knowing they have precocious students who long to do more in school, take their science projects to the next step, but can`t as the school doesn`t have funding to provide for these extracurricular activities and excursions.   We are nurturing frustrated aspiring scientists by limiting their access to advanced knowledge and applications of science and technology by restricting their inquiries to school curriculum, a science fair or special project at school.

Children want to know and learn more at younger ages.  They have access to the internet and can be self-taught to a point where they need instruction or hands on experience.  We have a nation of geniuses who lack access to expertise and lab facilities that would help cement their passion for knowledge and quest for discovery.

Parents crave access to additional resources for children with an insatiable desire to learn and know `why`and `how does it work`.  Fear of over scheduling children and not giving them time to play and relax in the summer could be avoided by adding summer activities as part of the summer camp, visits to parks, camping trips, sports activities (at sports facilities at our universities) to compliment the science camp activities in the labs.

Canadian parents want to respond to children`s natural curiosity and passion for knowledge.  We see the strain of the teachers in schools in our communities where budget cuts further hamper their ability to offer children resources they crave.  A summer science camp for children seeking age-inappropriate Science would fill a void in the programs offered by the federal government to encourage bright university students to find employment in the summer months.  A summer science camp based at our universities would give universities an opportunity to open their facilities to the community and give parents and children a first hand look at their facilities and faculty.

Our economy will depend on the current and next generation of children to be fully employed in good jobs. STEM training provides children with skills and aptitude to compete for good jobs and develop capacities to develop our economy as adults.  Children who arrive in Canada and parents who arrive in Canada as adults and children may not have had exposure to university training in Canada. Providing these parents and children with access to university facilities helps prepare and inform them of choices for further education and where they can seek information in their community.

The summer months are an ideal time for a summer science camp.  Parents are often working and need childcare for children that would rather not stay at home during their holidays.   Children enjoy socializing with new friends and in new contexts where they are learning something new or discovering their curiosity for knowledge they didn`t know existed.  This creates a positive experience and memory that is not tied to an exam, a grade, an expectation or evaluation.   Science is simply fun.

 

 

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Online Education - Innovative, affordable, lifelong learning; for everyone, anywhere, anytime.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 10/04/2016 1475582470
AukSun Consultants Ltd. is incorporated in Canada and UK, and registered in Pakistan. AukSun has grouped together multilingual promoters and developed .... Read more

AukSun Consultants Ltd. is incorporated in Canada and UK, and registered in Pakistan. AukSun has grouped together multilingual promoters and developed an online e-schooling systemAukSunLMS ( http://www.auksun.com/eSchool/summary.html ). We are seeking funds from funding institutions to operate AukSunLMS and build capacity to go global.We provide innovative affordable lifelong learning for everyone anywhere anytime. A working model is ready; comprising; clients, courses, learners, website, iOS App, advertising and CRM-templates. In our collaborative learning system, clients are; institutions, corporates and teachers who use dedicated web pages to teach their pupils in a customised and managed way. We facilitate and train our clients; and market and advertise their courses. We provide relevant ready-made courses to help our clients to jump start or upgrade.

We earn through subscribing students and this income is shared with respective institutes and teachers. We also earn from corporations according to the pricing plan they select. Corporations save significantly in their training budgets by adopting our methods.Subscribers learn at their own pace, from home/office on laptops/smartphones. Considering our volume-based business; prices are significantly lower than traditional schooling/tutoring.Collaborated business model is an innovative way to reduce entry barriers and enrol large groups of end users. Instead of competing traditional institutions, we facilitate them to provide better services to their learners. A win-win-win for AukSunLMS-institution-learner.

Benefits of eLearning are unmatched to traditional teaching methods. Learners benefit from AukSunLMS as a supplement (or replacement) to  traditional learning; saves time, cost and effort. Courses are available 24/7/365. Course quality is enhanced using better material, technology and methods. Learning is managed, upgraded, based on learning behavior. AukSunLMS imparts education through voiceover  presentations, videos and tests online. It manages progress, connects learners to educators, employers, funders and other sources. Seamless integration across all user-devises is provided to learners. A Certificate of completion is auto-emailed to the recipients.Major Expenses Our one-time cost and lower recurring cost makes it an ideal investment with significant ROI from Yr-2. AukSunLMS requires  $110,500 to operate. Funds are required to develop and expand globally through interactive website, learning management system, email  campaigns, courses and personnel. We will develop/buy quality educational courses as one-time purchase or percentage revenue sharing basis from prominent developers and teachers around the world. As cost is recovered, further distribution of courses will bear less cost. Hence we can mass market courses at a fraction of traditional competition (school fees, tuition fee etc.).Socio-Economic Aspect Millions of children/grown-ups around the world cannot afford quality education. Their talent remains undiscovered. AukSunLMS can teach/train them for as low as $10 per year. We will introduce an ‘Each-one-Teach-one’ program, wherein our Corporate and affluent clients/subscribers can contribute. (see auksun.com/eSchool/eschooling.html).

Sale Process We train Regional Representatives and Self Employed Teams (SET) for our sales. SETs will engage clients and train them to use AukSunLMS features; making and uploading courses, teaching pupilage through their webpage/s. SETs will earn through subscription of clients’ pupilage. (auksun.com/eSchool/careers ). Additionally, we send bulk emails and invite people to www.auksun.com/eschool. Visitors are directed to Children education, Professional Development or Corporate staff training pages showing catalogued courses. Subscribers are taken to the payment page and added to subscription lists for future follow-up (mailchimp).Website www.auksun.com/eschool is being improved for interactivity. We’ve collaborated with Yahoo (small business enterprise), Google (cloud for work, analytics, sites), Mail Chimp (email campaigns, lists automation), MSOffice, Acrobat, Vidyo, YouTube, Fiver, Online banking, facebook, Paypal, Mobify, SlideShare, Picktochart, WordPress, Shopify, Decision.io, PopMyAds, legaltemplates.net etc.Course Design; designed for the digital era; replacing blackboards using best mobile technology/apps (TIN/SCORM) to create courses, focusing long-term learning. We procure pre-developed quality course material from Canada, UK, U.S. and Australia etc. These are then customized, made interactive and uploaded for sale. (See catalog on eschool.auksun.com). Additionally AukSunLMS develops courses through collaboration with schools and their teachers, and other teachers worldwide (auksun.com/teach.html ). We continuously add courses for everyone’s use anywhere in the world; according to curricula, user-level, teacher preference, student requirements, etc.Services-        Customized web-portals for Institutions Corporations and Teachers (their ambiance, logos, color) giving edge over competition.-        Hands-on / online Training for clients to use AukSunLMS’s learning management.  - So they are up and running in no time.-        Making Courses (videos, voice-over presentations, quizzes, tests, automated emailing system, discussion boards, customized certificates)-        Training clients’ customers (children, parents, professionals, staff) - So the clients feel we are partners to their cause.-        MBTI analyzed learning behavior patterns - to identify ideal methodology for intended learners (introvert/extrovert preferences)-        Connecting independent learners with recruiters and corporations for jobs, Connecting entrepreneurs with funders

Products:

-        CPD for professionals (Finance, HR, Law).-        High gain, pre-made courses (to add value on client’s portals)-        Courses for independent learners-        Paper version courses (for people without internet access)-        Individualized unlimited cloud space to upload teaching material-        Discussion boards-        Motion detection cameras, Overhead projectors, seamless  uploading/streaming software for lectures or seminars.S.W.O.T Analysis-        Strengths: multicultural multilingual promoters - going global is  doable (Canada, UK, Dubai, India, Pakistan etc.)-        Weakness: Volume of subscribers needed to realize gains, hence  the low-price strategy. Internet availability-        Opportunity: People turning to smart-phones and eCommerce.  Rising cost of education-        Threats: Players with better financial muscle moving in first   (Tata, Coursera, Khan Academy) – get the early bird advantage.

Complete Business Plan, modus-operandi, financial forecasts, annexure, access to learning management courses can be provided (email your request to; azeem.khan@auksun.com ).

Credit: Home Schooling, School going children, Entrepreneurs, Executives, Immigrants, e-Teachers

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Teach kids to code in under-served areas

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 06/27/2016 1467046085
We are Code Heroes and we are launching a program to teach people of all ages in the region of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, how to code. We have cr .... Read more

We are Code Heroes and we are launching a program to teach people of all ages in the region of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, how to code. We have created an affordable, fun, and engaging program this summer to bring tech education and digital literacy to areas that are under-served and are doing so as a nonprofit organization. Receiving help from the Government in terms of resources and funding will help us bring innovation and amazing learning opportunities where there are currently no offerings. 

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Promote financial literacy and the development of entrepreneurial skills

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/07/2016 1467918873
Support and encourage pan-Canada adoption of promising provincial practices to promote financial literacy and the development of entrepreneurial ski .... Read more
  • Support and encourage pan-Canada adoption of promising provincial practices to promote financial literacy and the development of entrepreneurial skills.
  • Use federal resources to promote and support entrepreneurship as a viable career path and to encourage related skills development.

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Build An Online Global Mentoring Wisdom Tool - WisePeers.com

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/03/2016 1470237949
My idea for Canada to create a program called WisePeers. The idea to create a social media crowd sourcing platform that allows peers with diverse back .... Read more

My idea for Canada to create a program called WisePeers. The idea to create a social media crowd sourcing platform that allows peers with diverse background and located in different part of Canada and then in the world to connect positively. The connection will result in either improving an existing skill or brainstorming to resolve a problem facing one of the peers. It is an interdisciplinary online mentoring tool that helps different type of peers to interact and help each other in a chosen field. Canada will help make the world light wisdom one Wise Peer at a time in different categories mainly social entrepreneurship.

Canada will be the leader in creating the most positive social media site in the world that will light wisdom. Phase 1 of the project will be focused in Canada and different provinces and once results shows success we can move to Phase 2 and open it up globally.

WisePeers will let users choose a skill to be worked on from a predefined list created from the following common mentoring categories:

1) Youth related issues at school such as: lack of motivation to study, bullying, obesity, drug use, depression, lying,cheating, or expressing anger.

2) Career Development issues within private and public sector organizations such as: leadership, project management,career building, or learn new skill. mentor refugees to take the next step.

3) Entrepreneurship issues such as: risk taking, business planning, financial help, marketing, organization structure, or legal help.

Canada WisePeers innovation advantages:

- Can help information exchange and experience transfer.

- WisePeers can run on a larger scale than face to face mentoring interactions.

- Wise Peers can be assigned on an ad hoc basis without a centralized program.

- Allows peers to collaborate, reflect and connect as they are in one place which reduces the feelings of isolation.

- Ability to think through wisdom thoughts and questions prior to responding.

- WisePeers will offer global awarding ranks for both peers that they can build on to improve and become a wiser person in this world. It also provides a record of interactions. These ranks and records can used to build trust and recorded personal accomplishments. The ranking will be helping to define a realistic score for most influencing people in the world.

- WisePeers can make it easier for a peer to seek out more experiences peers based on complementary or similar skills and interests rather than superficial characteristics.

- Not constrained by geography and have huge potential to integrate all over the world.

- WisePeers can be advantageous for women and persons with disabilities due to a reduced emphasis on status,geographic location and demographics.

I own the rights for the name wisepeers.com and I have a complete design for the program that is not public yet and willing to share and take part in it.

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What does it take for Canada to be known globally as the best country in attracting and developing diverse, high-end talent?

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 09/29/2016 1475179612
Numerous studies have shown the positive relationship between immigration and innovation. Immigrants bring with them specialized skills and experience .... Read more

Numerous studies have shown the positive relationship between immigration and innovation. Immigrants bring with them specialized skills and experience, diverse perspectives, international relationships and networks, and an entrepreneurial spirit. With an aging population and low birth rates, Canada will increasingly rely on immigration to ensure our labour market needs are met in the future. CPA Canada’s own internal occupational demand analysis shows this to be true for our profession.

 

We face competition for the best and the brightest. If we are to be competitive as a destination of choice, we must do a better job of attracting talent, smoothing the integration of newcomers into the workforce and providing them with the best opportunity to succeed. We must also do a better job of processing applications with speed and certainty.

 

CPA Canada has provided more specific input to this matter in our submission to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s recent online consultation, a National Conversation on Immigration.[1] Several key points are worth expanding upon in the context of Canada’s innovation agenda.

 

The Express Entry system of managing the economic class immigration streams would benefit from further refinement. Three reforms in particular are worth consideration: a re-examination of the emphasis on youth; replacing Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs); and supporting the role of international students in meeting labour market needs.

 

Age is one of the criteria for awarding points in the comprehensive ranking system for Express Entry applications. Generally, it makes sense to award a greater number of points for youth – as the point structure does – because younger immigrants have more years to contribute to Canada’s labour market. However, some highly specialized skills or executive-level experience can only be acquired through experience over time. The point system as currently structured unintentionally penalizes senior business executives and specialists for their wealth of experience. It also penalizes Canadian employers who need to fill particular niche roles for which suitable candidates are scarce.

 

This is particularly important when it comes to one of Canada’s biggest innovation challenges: our struggles to grow firms to a larger scale. A 2016 study by the Lazaridis Institute examined the barriers faced by high-growth Canadian technology firms and concluded that the biggest challenge was a lack of experienced management and executive talent. In particular, respondents indicated a shortfall of executives with first-hand experience scaling up technology firms.[2] Canadian firms need access to a deeper talent pool than the country’s labour supply is able to provide. Age should not preclude skilled managerial talent from consideration.

 

 

A central purpose behind Express Entry was to make Canada’s economic class immigration streams more responsive to labour market needs by enabling employer demand to directly impact the selection of immigrants. As such, the offer of employment from a Canadian employer is a significant component of the Express Entry point structure. But as a report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce illustrated, by making that offer of employment contingent on a positive LMIA, the demand-driven thrust of Express Entry has been negated by what is essentially a protectionist labour market test.[3]

 

The Chamber makes a well-reasoned argument to replace the LMIA, to which we will just add that the LMIA requirement adds further time, administrative compliance and uncertainty to the Express Entry application process. The resulting delays and uncertainty are felt by both Canadian employers and prospective immigrants. The most sought-after international talent has options, and delays and uncertainty in the application process make Canada less competitive.

 

International students enrich the learning environment in Canada’s education institutions and make a substantial contribution to our economy in the process. There are sound economic reasons why Canada should position itself as the destination of choice for international students. Similarly, there are good reasons why we should look to these international students as potential future Canadians. No immigrants are better poised for success in Canada’s labour market than those who already possess a Canadian education, a comfort with Canadian society, and perhaps Canadian work experience.

 

But once again, Express Entry has minimized the opportunities for this talent pool, or at least created more uncertainty than before the system was introduced. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) had been a convenient and successful pathway for international students to pursue immigration to Canada. In fact, in recent years, the Canadian government had set ambitious targets for CEC in order to maximize the number of international students who chose to stay. Since CEC is one of the economic class immigration programs subject to Express Entry, international students must now be ranked based on the Express Entry point system and compete with other potential immigrants. Their Canadian education and experience does not necessarily have any additional value under the point system.

 

Express Entry’s impact on CEC may make Canada a less desirable destination for international students in the first place. There should not be any guarantees of permanent residency offered to international students who come to Canada. However, at the same time, students should be able to realistically assess their chances of staying should they want to do so. Express Entry’s point system presents a rather cloudy view, and if other international students are less successful in pursuing immigration (as early Express Entry results suggest), then Canada may appear a less attractive choice for their studies. Once again, it is a matter of competition. The best and brightest international students will choose to go to the countries that offer the best educational opportunities along with the best long-term career prospects.

 

 

Recommendations:

 

  • Re-evaluate the points awarded for age under Express Entry to ensure that Canadian employers are not denied access to international talent with highly valued skills and experience.
  • Consider replacing the Labour Market Impact Assessment under Express Entry. If it is necessary to have a labour market test or validation of a legitimate job offer, ensure that the process is fast, efficient and clear.
  • If the Canadian Experience Class must be subject to the Express Entry points system, ensure that a Canadian education and experience is valued as it is in the Canadian marketplace.

 

How do we work together to better equip our young people with the right skill sets for the economy of the future?     

 

Much emphasis is placed on the need for Canada to graduate more students from the so-called STEM fields of study – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Certainly these fields are critical for an innovation-driven economy. But just as important is the need for business graduates that have a sophisticated understanding of how to grow businesses through each stage of development, how to pursue opportunities in Canada and abroad, and how to anticipate and adapt to change.

 

An expert panel struck by the Council of Canadian Academies noted that STEM skills are not sufficient on their own to ensure improvements in innovation, productivity or growth. “Other skills such as leadership, creativity, adaptability, and entrepreneurial ability may be required to maximize the impact of STEM skills,” their report stated.[4]

 

The Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity measured the specific shortfall in business skills finding that, when compared to the United States, Canada has a significant gap in the number of business degree holders. “More alarming is the lower educational attainment of those in management occupations, irrespective of field of study. Just over a third of our managers have a university degree, compared to half in the United States,” the institute warned.[5]

 

The OECD has also noted that Canada lags its peers in the development of business and entrepreneurial skills. In addition, it identified another reason to emphasize the importance of management talent – Canadians’ perceived aversion to risk and the contribution that makes to the country’s commercialization gap. It suggests that more management training and higher education in general would help to address that problem:

The best way to stimulate willingness to take risk may be to boost competitive pressures and openness … and to complement this by enhanced attention to management training and diversity at all educational levels. More tertiary education in general is also needed … Canada still lags in attainment of university degrees, whereas highly educated persons are much more likely to be owners of high-growth innovative firms.[6]

 

In addition to developing managerial talent, we need to do a better job of instilling basic business skills in graduates of all fields. The STEM graduates who may create the products, processes and services of the future, would benefit greatly from a fundamental understanding of how to commercialize their ideas and take them successfully to market. Yet interdisciplinary studies are often discouraged or even prevented. In some cases, spaces in business classes are reserved for students in business programs, making them unavailable to students in science faculties. On the other hand, students in STEM fields may believe that focusing their studies as narrowly as possible gives them greater expertise and enhances their employability.

 

The OECD recommends that post-secondary education institutions include training in entrepreneurship and business skills in their science-based programs, a recommendation we endorse. Greater awareness also needs to be generated regarding the business training resources that exist beyond post-secondary institutions, such as those provided by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT).

 

Business-oriented financial literacy programs can also improve basic awareness of business skills. In fact, CPA Canada and thousands of CPA volunteers deliver a range of financial literacy programs to Canadians each year. Some of those programs are targeted to entrepreneurs or operators of SMEs to provide some of the essential knowledge and skills for operating a business.

 

By promoting a general understanding of business and removing barriers to interdisciplinary studies, we would develop a more entrepreneurial, adaptable and innovative workforce. The possession of specialized knowledge or skills along with an understanding of how to apply them in a business environment is a combination that should be encouraged.

 

Recommendations:

  • Ensure that Canada’s business schools are producing the sophisticated business managers needed to start, lead and grow firms into successful global players.
  • Encourage more interdisciplinary study in post-secondary education to enable innovators and inventors to also have a fundamental understanding of business, finance and entrepreneurialism.

 

[1] To be available on CPA Canada’s website at cpacanada.ca.

[2] Lazaridis Institute, Scaling Success: Tackling the Management Gap in Canada’s Technology Sector, Wilfred Laurier University, March 2016.

[3] Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Immigration for a Competitive Canada: Why Highly Skilled International Talent is at Risk, January 2016.

[4] Council of Canadian Academies, 2015, Some Assembly Required: STEM Skills and Canada’s Economic Productivity, Ottawa: The Expert Panel on STEM Skills for the Future, Council of Canadian Academies.

[5] Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, Canada’s Innovation Imperative: Report on Canada 2011.

[6] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2012), OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2012, OECD Publishing.

Credit: Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada

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Expand access to high-quality work placement opportunities

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 06/22/2016 1466623252
Anyone who's tried to break into the job market can tell you that most employers ask for 2-3 years of experience, even for entry-level jobs. Work plac .... Read more

Anyone who's tried to break into the job market can tell you that most employers ask for 2-3 years of experience, even for entry-level jobs. Work placement programs, like co-ops, internships and apprenticeships, are an invaluable way for students to get real experience in the workplace to complement their technical skills, while helping defray their tuition costs and reducing the level of debt they graduate with. Making high-quality work placements available to more students will equip Canada's youth for today's (and tomorrow's) competitive labor markets. But this isn't just a matter of giving more funding to existing programs. There are serious gaps and shortfalls in the way that work placement is carried out today, which is one reason why there's such a wide disparity in outcomes from post-secondary education. The federal government has a great opportunity to fill in those gaps. By doing so, it will lay the groundwork, not just for a more productive labour force, but for a more inclusive economy.

The quality and availability of work placement programs varies greatly between fields. Students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects can find rewarding co-op jobs at high-profile and exciting firms. Arts students, who make up the largest part of the undergraduate class at most universities, have far fewer opportunities to gain relevant and high-quality experience in the workplace than their peers in STEM fields. 

Just as important, there is a huge variation in the quality of work placement positions even within the same field. Many employers use students as a source of cheap, temporary labour with no regard for their career development. Computer science students who fail to get their dream jobs at Google might find themselves working in a call center instead. Internships can be rewarding, enriching experiences- or the exact opposite, sometimes even within the same organization. Worse, it can be impossible for applicants to know what kind of experience they'll get from a given posting.

This means that students with limited financial resources can't rely on co-op programs or internships for income through their studies. They might well find that a minimum-wage job flipping burgers or stocking shelves, which offers reliable income without needing to sit through extensive interviews or buy expensive work attire, makes more financial sense than trying to find a co-op or an internship. These students are being left behind, working dead-end jobs while their better-off peers compete for plum assignments. 

The intense competition for the best work placements means that they're likely to go to financially secure students who are highly motivated, have good interpersonal skills, and who are studying high-demand subjects- in other words, the same people who would probably be able to find a good job after graduation no matter what. 

To expand students' access to high-quality work placement programs, the Government of Canada should:

  • Encourage employers to use work placement programs for fields and occupations that so far have been under-represented;
  • Facilitate new or reformed work placement programs to better meet the needs of employers in fields that traditionally haven't employed students;
  • Ensure that work placement offerings are aligned with the future job prospects of graduates, so that every student has the ability to launch their career with a work placement opportunity;
  • Create programs aimed at students who are a poor fit for traditional work placement opportunities, such as those with language deficits, disabilities, or those who lack developed interpersonal skills for the workplace;
  • Ensure that employers are open and transparent in their job postings about the type of position they are offering, the scope of work, the degree of responsibility, and the skills the experience will foster; and,
  • If necessary, amend existing programs to prevent employers from posting jobs that do not provide a valuable experience to students.

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Public Universities & An End to Student Debt!

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/04/2016 1467596031
Reading the motivation/background for this discussion: "Canada is at its most prosperous when all Canadians have a fair chance at success. That is wh .... Read more

Reading the motivation/background for this discussion:

"Canada is at its most prosperous when all Canadians have a fair chance at success. That is why Canada must focus on innovation to deliver real change for the middle class and those working hard to join it."

In Canada today, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Canadians no longer have a fair chance at success. Never mind the economy of the future, the economy of TODAY requires higher education to participate competitively as a member of the workforce. This is very common knowledge; nobody denies it, and yet the last few governments have been utterly negligent to equal access to education.

One aspect of this is that Canadian students who do graduate from high-quality STEM programs are fleeing by the hundreds to Silicon Valley and the like, since our national priorities have shifted from manufacturing to resource extraction that most young professionals recognize as unsustainable.

Another is that, as universities pursue their mandate to grow, but continued local enrolment into these programs cannot match this growth, they take on more and more international students. As government funding as not kept pace with the demands of a school in an inflating economy, the schools have to rely more on tuition fees and private funding. The more the programs rely on private funding, the more they turn from public education centres to private job-specific training centres (sometimes even with one or a small number of companies in mind as employers). This in turn makes its harder to justify public funding, and the vicious cycle continues, the victims being the students, especially those from lower-income backgrounds.

There is no doubt to me that the best way to prepare ourselves for the future economy, and become a champion in innovation, is by allowing all students to have equal access to higher education, so that the economy of the future becomes a function of our hard work, not a function of those born into money keeping it through menial office jobs while the majority goes into decline.

Additionally, I think it's important to reform how post-secondary education works, in a post-Internet world. Currently, one can receive a better (cheaper, faster, more personally relevant) education in almost any subject from Khan Academy and/or Youtube for free, the only advantage being the paper certificate it offers at the end. Universities are no longer isolated hubs of highly-specialized knowledge, and their function has to adapt to this in the next century. 

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Ensure Canada's youth are equipped with the right skills

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/02/2016 1472844698
Tags: digital  skills  education  youth 
Coding and the underlying computational thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills are crucial components of innovation and entrepreneursh .... Read more

Coding and the underlying computational thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills are crucial components of innovation and entrepreneurship but these skills aren't being taught in school.  That needs to change. "

Canada's youth are the entrepreneurs and innovators of the future and critical to the Canadian economy. We need to ensure they are equipped with the skills they need to successfully start, grow and nurture the jobs of the future.  And, we need all youth to have equal access -- that includes young women and other historically underrepresented groups."

Melissa Sariffodeen, Co-Founder + CEO at Ladies Learning Code

Melissa Sariffodeen, Young Women: The Key to Unlocking #CDNInnovation, LadiesLearningCode.com. September 1 2016

Credit: Melissa Sariffodeen, LadiesLearningCode.com

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Training of future leaders in health research

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 09/27/2016 1475003090
Clinician Researchers Training of physicians occurs best when they are trained in a research rich environment that fosters innovation and creativity. .... Read more

Clinician Researchers

Training of physicians occurs best when they are trained in a research rich environment that fosters innovation and creativity. These clinician researchers/scientists, who are versed in multiple disciplines, possess a unique set of skills that set them apart from other health professionals. This makes them an invaluable asset for translating discoveries in medicine into day to day delivery of clinical care. Clinician researchers meet a pressing national need, are economic drivers by early adoption of health care cost reduction strategies-technologies, and as future leaders in health research are crucial in identifying best practices for the delivery of health care, which is changing at a rapid pace. A critical need for medical leadership versed in research was identified in the Report of the Advisory Panel on Health care Innovation and as such our clinician scientists in training are the future leaders who will make the discoveries and innovate to improve the health of Canadians. These individuals however face significant challenges in the form of total length of professional training that includes research training, funding during prolonged period of training, post-training debt, future career prospects and life-long mentorship. As an organization dedicated to advancing medical education and life-long learning, the Association of the Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) believes that the next generation of health professionals will need research training to become innovative and compete in knowledge-based global economies.

 Recommendation:

The AFMC recommends the establishment of a national training strategy for clinician scientists (that includes all health disciplines) at all stages of career development. Such a plan would include a) setting national standards and metrics, including oversight, of the continuum for developing an independent clinician scientist; b) supporting active summer studentship programs that often provide medical and other health trainees their first opportunity for exposure to research c) competitive programs in which both students and mentors should show exemplary characteristics; d) leverage opportunities and partnerships to create sustainable support for clinician scientist programs; e) address issues of salary and time protection, debt relief and sustainable research funding; e) a mentoring program that spans the entire career track of the clinician scientist career.

 

Scientists

Training of the next generation of graduate students (PhDs) is critical for the future of health research and economic development in Canada. An increasing number of graduate students in health disciplines are seeking job opportunities outside of Universities and there is a growing need for programs to support career development in other sectors such as industry and business. Training such highly skilled individuals to be fluent in science and business will stand to make Canada an attractive destination for foreign investments in any health-related sector. There have been significant changes to the Tri-council trainee award programs over the past decade or so. The creation of Vanier and Banting award programs, while desirable and effective at rewarding the accomplishments of the “best of the best” only serve to benefit an extremely small proportion of the skilled and deserving trainees that are among our most important learners within our medical schools. The offering of trainee support awards should be based on accurate projections of expected personal numbers needed to drive Canada’s future excellence in biomedical research globally. Instead, we have witnessed a steady erosion in the numbers of Tri-council Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral Scholarships and Fellowships over the past decade. This decline in awards assures that Canada’s future in biomedical research will not soar to the heights in the future that it has in the past. Thus it is essential that greater resources be distributed to restoring reasonable capacity building levels of excellent trainees (summer students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) that will drive biomedical research excellence in the future and ensure Canada’s place a global leader in advancing solutions for the health related diseases that inflict humankind.

 Recommendation:

In the short term AFMC recommends providing increased support through targeted tri-council funding for trainees. As a longer term strategy, AFMC recommends promoting and encouraging institutional identification and supporting graduate students committed to a career in research by providing appropriate opportunities (including multi-disciplinary training) for those graduate students contemplating careers outside of academia. As a longer-term goal, AFMC encourages the Federal Ministers of Health and Science and their provincial partners in developing a pan-Canadian strategy for attracting young minds into science and providing sustainable support that increases the attractiveness of a career in science and health research.

Credit: The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada

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To be known globally, one must act globally.

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 08/18/2016 1471551386
In order to be known globally, one must act globally. Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design has committed to interacting with the int .... Read more

In order to be known globally, one must act globally. Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design has committed to interacting with the international academic and artistic communities. We host international conferences, recruit the top students and faculty internationally, partner with international practitioners on our productions in Animation, Music Theatre, Design and the like. By acting in an international environment, we raise the bar for our Faculty. We better learn to measure success and failure by acting within an international context. However, these activities need constant funding and resourcing for ongoing institutional commitments.

Credit: Sheridan Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design

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Provide more cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural opportunities

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/18/2016 1471551850
Beyond the specific vocational skills that are important for each of our graduates, transferable skills are equally important to ensuring graduates ar .... Read more

Beyond the specific vocational skills that are important for each of our graduates, transferable skills are equally important to ensuring graduates are ready for every changing job environment. Providing cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural opportunities to our young people will engage them in novel ways, and expand their thinking beyond their immediate professions. With increased globalization, it’s important for our graduates to have an international perspective – while also instilling in them the importance of engagement with their own local communities.  With technological changes also comes new opportunities for work in fields we haven’t even yet thought of – we need to prepare our graduates to be adaptable and to think in novel and creative ways.  To equip our young people for the future, we need to provide them with as many learning opportunities as possible outside the traditional classroom. This could include such things as international exchanges or placements, and community projects where students work to solve real community problems (likely in conjunction with different disciplines, adding to the cross-disciplinary experience).

Credit: Sheridan Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies

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Ensuring that SMEs Have Access to Skilled Employees and Encouraging the Next Generation of Innovators

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 11/04/2016 1478282522
Skilled labour remains the top concern of SMEs looking to innovate. As significant funds are already being invested in post-secondary institutions, go .... Read more

Skilled labour remains the top concern of SMEs looking to innovate. As significant funds are already being invested in post-secondary institutions, governments must ensure that these investments translate into actual results for small businesses. The focus should remain on job-ready graduates who are able to fill labour gaps across sectors of the economy.

  • Work with the provinces to reform the education system to improve basic skills training, including building job-readiness skills, and to reach out more to the small business community when creating curriculums;
  • Better co-operation and coordination with other levels of government, as well as post-secondary institutions, to focus funding on programs linked to the employment market;
  • Better communication by governments with small business owners on which programs and services that may be able to assist with training in their business.
  • Review existing tax credit programs to promote hiring and retention, and introduce new tax credits such as an EI training credit or EI holiday for youth hiring that recognize the investment in both formal and informal training made by small employers when they expand their payroll;
  • Recognize the importance of informal training in small businesses by designing a federal training tax credit based on existing government reporting and filing requirements, such as payroll-based EI;

* For full list of recommendations, see attached CFIB report on SMEs and innovation, Beyond the Big Idea: Redefining and Rethinking the Innovation Agenda 

 

Credit: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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Better education and economic opportunities for First Nations people

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/16/2016 1471372821
“Better education and economic opportunities for First Nations people can be initiated by linking those in remote and rural communities to oppor .... Read more

“Better education and economic opportunities for First Nations people can be initiated by linking those in remote and rural communities to opportunities where markets are, helping foster educational outcomes that are linked to social and economic development.”Dr Robert Luke, VP Research and Innovation at George Brown College, Innovative proposals for an innovation minister, Re$earch Money, June 23, 2016

Credit: Dr Robert Luke, VP Research and Innovation at George Brown College,

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To be known globally, one must act globally.

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 08/18/2016 1471551382
In order to be known globally, one must act globally. Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design has committed to interacting with the int .... Read more

In order to be known globally, one must act globally. Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design has committed to interacting with the international academic and artistic communities. We host international conferences, recruit the top students and faculty internationally, partner with international practitioners on our productions in Animation, Music Theatre, Design and the like. By acting in an international environment, we raise the bar for our Faculty. We better learn to measure success and failure by acting within an international context. However, these activities need constant funding and resourcing for ongoing institutional commitments.

Credit: Sheridan Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design

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Support Experiential and Work-Integrated Learning

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/30/2016 1472566792
At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learn .... Read more

At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learning (curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular) and work-integrated learning (co-op, internships, practicum, etc) as part of our education.  Students benefit from opportunities where they can practice, experiment, apply theory, make mistakes, and develop employability skills.  These links between curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular develop well rounded students that are flexible, adaptable, and future ready.  We have learned that our mutually beneficial partnerships with employers and industry are critical to successfully providing experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities for our students.

Credit: Sheridan Student Affairs

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Nurturing and entrepreneurial mindset with peer to peer learning

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/31/2016 1472657406
One way to nurture and entrepreneurial and innovative skillset and mindset in today’s youth is to provide students at all levels with the opport .... Read more

One way to nurture and entrepreneurial and innovative skillset and mindset in today’s youth is to provide students at all levels with the opportunity to collaborate on interdisciplinary teams on entrepreneurial endeavors. At George Brown College we facilitate with through Peer to Peer (P2P) learning.

startGBC, your gateway to entrepreneurship at George Brown College is a virtual hub, connecting entrepreneurial students, alumni and faculty to the resources they need.  We have matched startGBC student entrepreneurs with business, design and engineering students who act as consultants on matters such as positioning, product design and prototyping, market research, customer validation, pricing, etc.  Both sides of the transaction benefit as the student entrepreneurs gain valuable insights and recommendations from their peers and the consulting students experience working with real-life customers, products and solutions rather than generic case studies.  They are also able to add this background to their resumes and to speak knowledgably about their consulting experience during interviews with prospective employers.

At George Brown, we have received excellent feedback from both faculty and students, and we plan to expand the P2P model, with the addition of student “subject matter experts”, from areas like culinary management and health sciences.

Credit: George Brown College Research & Innovation

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Partner up with Ladies Learning Code and School Systems

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/31/2016 1472668094
Tags: technology  education 
Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that runs beginner friendly technology workshops for women and youth. All grades and all schools across Canad .... Read more

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that runs beginner friendly technology workshops for women and youth. All grades and all schools across Canada should be teaching technology building skills and entrepreneurial basics. Students need to be able to create and think for themselves to be successful in our era of innovation. The days of memorization is gone - we have computers to do that for us.Team up with LLC or other initiatives to bring technology training into the classroom.

Credit: Ladies Learning Code - http://ladieslearningcode.com/

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Better Funding for Schooling

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/09/2016 1470748219
Tags: funding  education 
I suggest that there be better funding for schooling for young ones because many people are unable to further their schooling due to a lack of funds o .... Read more

I suggest that there be better funding for schooling for young ones because many people are unable to further their schooling due to a lack of funds or they end up having tons of student loans to pay off for many years.

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Provide a mechanism to facilitate the transition of college graduates into the new innovation economy

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 08/15/2016 1471283788
Students often work on industry- and community-driven projects while balancing other academic demands. While students graduate with a strong appreciat .... Read more

Students often work on industry- and community-driven projects while balancing other academic demands. While students graduate with a strong appreciation of what is needed to solve problems effectively, their skills could benefit from fine-tuning and mentorship. At the same time, new graduates enter the work place where companies have embraced "lean" ideals and expect that these graduates will have an immediate impact with minimal or no training. In some cases, this results in a gap between employer expectations and employee abilities. The question then is how do we address this gap? 

Our solution is a “Springboard Mentorship.”

This idea is based on funding and a mechanism that allows recent graduates to be engaged in solving industry or community problems while still having the ability to learn from an experienced professor over a short period of time – say six months to a year.

Further, these graduates could mentor junior students who are working their way through their programs by providing insight and guidance. This idea harnesses the passion and enthusiasm of college graduates to propel innovation.

 Funding for such a partnership could stem from a joint effort between industry, government agencies (such as the tri-councils) and colleges. Enthusiastic graduates could put their skills into action right away, without having to worry about course work, thus generating an immediate influx of new ideas, new designs and new ventures into the marketplace.

These graduates would benefit from the expertise and guidance of college faculty mentors who could help polish their mentees’ applied research skills. In exchange, graduates could reduce faculty workload by assisting students involved in faculty-run projects or externally driven work. By acting as mentors to junior students, graduates develop leadership and communication skills – the much needed and so-called “soft skills” while improving their practical knowledge and abilities.

The benefits of a Springboard Mentorship are multi-layered. Graduates would be more employable and better equipped to take the next step in their career, easing the transition into the workforce. It would reduce the employers risk of hiring new graduates, as they would see a solid body of real-world work experience, rather than hoping that there's talent behind the credential. Picture the innovation payoff of thousands of experienced and engaged college graduates, and the domino effect of their new ideas, designs and approaches alongside their boiling-over desire to join the workforce. Now picture what is lost if that same number are unable to find employment and experience, instead succumbing to an inevitable erosion of skills. There is so much attention being placed on creating something new — new funding for research, new incubators and new initiatives — yet no attention is being paid to developing the skills of the next generation of innovators. We encourage the innovation strategy to consider this option.

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Fostering Innovation Through Creativity

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/16/2016 1471372233
Polytechnics across Canada and specifically at Sheridan support innovation through creativity, applied research, and our centres of excellence. At the .... Read more

Polytechnics across Canada and specifically at Sheridan support innovation through creativity, applied research, and our centres of excellence. At the heart of Sheridan’s support is our academic creativity programming, including Creative Problem Solving workshops, creativity breadth courses, and a Board Certificate in Creativity for our students in bachelor degree programs. Sheridan believes that creativity is the foundation of innovation, and has strived to embed creativity throughout our campuses and academic programs. Through Sheridan’s Creativity Institute, Sheridan is expanding into the community with creative problem solving workshops for local not-for-profits to find creative solutions to challenging problems. Over 1,900 students have taken courses in creativity at Sheridan, and at our most recent convocation, we awarded the first certificates for graduates who had completed the certificate program.

What separates Sheridan and other polytechnics across Canada is the ability and history of working with industry through our applied research projects, finding creative and innovative solutions to industry challenges using faculty and students who learn and work with them. Over 90 per cent of students at Sheridan have internship or field experience during their studies, while most senior students complete a term-long capstone project that can spark entrepreneurial opportunities not previously thought of. Sheridan is part of an innovation pipeline, creating the student who has the ability to have an idea and to then do something about it. Sheridan has created ties to existing entrepreneurial networks within the region and industry-specific innovation zones across Canada. More should be done to support the polytechnic applied research and capstone focus that allows for creativity to lead to innovation to lead to entrepreneurship.

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Support university design teams to create skilled, ambitious STEM professionals

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 09/02/2016 1472820482
Background: Design teams are university clubs that develop technical solutions often to compete at some local or international event. They offer an un .... Read more

Background: Design teams are university clubs that develop technical solutions often to compete at some local or international event. They offer an unprecedented learn-and-create opportunity for university students across many STEM fields, including engineering, life sciences, computer science, mathematics, and physics. This experience in teamwork and problem-solving is what we need in the real world. Design teams build mindsets of innovation that shape culture, and create highly competent, hardworking individuals that go on to create change whether in Canada in abroad.

Recommendation: The federal government should...

  • Create more funding support for university design teams
  • Create awards to recognize design team excellence
  • Work with design teams to develop collaborative programs whereby design teams/university clubs can partner with the government or private companies to advance their programs (e.g. access to NRC Wind Tunnels, using racetracks owned by private auto companies)

Experiential evidence:

As the President of the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT), Canada's largest aerospace engineering design team, I can attest to the following having been on the team for more than three years...

  • Employers value relevant professional experience more than high grades, and design teams are counted as professional experience
  • We publish research and design papers annually at internationally renowned conference and journal papers
  • The majority of our design team members feel like they learn more through design teams than through their university classes
  • The most ambitious design teams cement the theory taught in classes by applying them to practical problems where the metric of success is the performance of a real technology, not a grade on a test
  • Design teams cultivate entrepreneurial drive, and a significant number of UTAT alumni have founded successful Canadian start-ups, both within and outside the context of aerospace
  • The skills developed within UTAT are seen as internationally competitive, evidenced by organizations such as SpaceX and the German Aerospace Center coming directly to us for recruitment
  • The list goes on...

This story is not unique to UTAT, or to U of T. Look at the UMSATS at the University of Manitoba, or Space Concordia at Concordia University. As an aerospace engineer-to-be I draw on examples in aerospace but this story happen in many different locations with many different focuses and many different levels of support, but to the same end.

Final comments:

Design teams create real skills and ambition for creating a globally competitive workforce, right here in Canada. And if students find something they love, know that they're competent at it, and were able to develop themselves and their design team projects within Canada, that results in a culture of innovation. Throw in the ability to form an attractive vision for staying in Canada (which depends on other factors), and now those skills and attitudes remain part of our great country.

Credit: Jeremy Wang, UAS Engineering Lead @ The Sky Guys

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