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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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Reduce Government spending by making University free for all

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 10/31/2016 1477881024
My idea is simple. Take government spending that is used on high enrollment courses in universities across Canada and create an online accredited cour .... Read more

My idea is simple. Take government spending that is used on high enrollment courses in universities across Canada and create an online accredited course. After completing course material a student heads down to a government-run test facility to be properly identified and fill out an exam. If the exam is passed, then credit is given for no cost to the citizen. Low-enrollment courses could be rolled out as the program grows.

For example, statistics 101 is a common university course. Take the money that normally would be spent on 10,000s of students taking this course every year and develop a self-paced interactive impactful online statistics 101 course.  Support this course with a Q & A that is mainly community managed.  Some benefits I can think of would be as follows:

-Students learn at their own pace so they do not miss out on important concepts.

-Talented students can finish degrees faster.

-Reduced student debt.

-The course material will be presented by the top lecturers and be more current.

-Eliminate some commutes, parking, and textbook fees for students.

-Prospective students can try courses before committing to a full degree.

-Complete courses on any schedule or timeline meaning people who are employed can work towards a university degree.

-With free library computers and internet access, any Canadian can complete a university degree no matter their income.

-Immigrant Canadians can challenge courses they have taken in their previous country of residence.

-Courses can be taken casually by Canadians who are interested in a subject but not a degree.

-Eliminate entrance requirements.

 

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Innovation through Co-operative Education

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 10/12/2016 1476309077
Introduction CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education) is the voice for post-secondary co-operative education in Canada. Co-operative e .... Read more

Introduction

CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education) is the voice for post-secondary co-operative education in Canada. Co-operative education (co-op) programs alternate periods of academic study and work experience in fields that are relevant to students’ programs of study. Students are given opportunities to test their theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, explore a variety of careers before fully entering the workforce, and earn both valuable experience and compensation.

Co-operative education is a foundational part of Canada’s reputation as a nation full of innovative, skilled entrepreneurs. When students participate in co-op programs, they develop the professional skills — communication, teamwork, problem solving — that employees and creators need to thrive in the future economy. They’re also given the chance to watch and learn from existing innovators in their communities.

CAFCE recommends Industry Canada consider the following options as a means of furthering its Innovation Agenda:

Canada Innovation Co-op Grants

Startups and innovation businesses should be encouraged to hire Canadian co-op students through the establishment of a grant program.

How would this work?

The grant program would involve the development of partnerships between post-secondary institutions and businesses meeting a set of eligibility requirements. A portion of the grant funds would be put towards a percentage of students’ salaries, making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to pursue innovation and plan for additional hiring.

The grants would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution, i.e. more grants for provinces with a greater number of enrolled co-op students. The grants would also be spread equitably across the country’s various innovation sectors. A cap on eligible business size would be implemented to ensure the grants benefit startups and small businesses. The number of grant-eligible hires per fiscal year would also be restricted to ensure the grants’ reach across as many businesses as possible. Finally, an additional incentive could be implemented to encourage innovative businesses to hire students looking for their first co-op position.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • The creation of ground-level partnerships between startups and small businesses and post-secondary institutions (e.g. RIM’s relationship with the University of Waterloo)
  • Immediate incentives for innovation companies and startups who can support the hiring of co-op students.
  • Increased opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in Canada’s various innovation sectors.

Co-op Entrepreneurship Program

A scholarship for co-op student innovators should be established, encouraging students to spend a term developing their own ideas and/or companies with fewer financial restrictions.

How would this work?

Scholarships valued at $10,000 per work term (four months) would be offered to student innovators intent on spending their terms developing their own ideas or enterprises. The scholarships would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution and would be awarded based on applications. The collection of applications and delivery of funds would be coordinated with students’ post-secondary institutions and advertised on campuses and through institutions’ co-op programs.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • Canada’s innovative capacity would increase through the support and development of aspiring entrepreneurs in a co-op context.
  • The program would encourage the development of students’ entrepreneurial mindsets and innovation skills while still allowing them to experience formalized co-op programs. Students who haven’t actively considered entrepreneurship could be encouraged to give it a try by the provision of a considerable scholarship.

Mitacs Undergraduate & Graduate Co-op Program

Mitacs should expand its operations by introducing a series of co-op-specific awards at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Co-op student recipients would spend a work term in a Mitacs-endorsed research environment, developing their skills and contributing to their employers’ innovative efforts. These awards would augment Mitacs’ existing efforts to expand and support research-based innovation in Canada.

How would this work?

Many post-secondary institutions already have a relationship with Mitacs because of its research funding, training, and support for international research collaborations. The new program would build on these pre-existing relationships and the associated infrastructure. The resulting co-op opportunities with researchers across the country would yield benefits for post-secondary institution, Mitacs, and its partners.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • Co-op students interested in research and innovation would have a new way to pursue appropriate employment within their chosen field.
  • Increased partnership between Mitacs and post-secondary institutions will reduce competition for talented students, and it can create opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and resources.
Credit: Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE)

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Create a culture of innovation by creating a culture of risk acceptance

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078935
Innovation is an inexact science that attempts to navigate the many risks of trying something new. For innovations to flourish, innovators need to be .... Read more

Innovation is an inexact science that attempts to navigate the many risks of trying something new. For innovations to flourish, innovators need to be able to live with the constant risk of failure. If the risk or consequence of failure is seen as too great, many innovators may give up after their first attempt, or not try at all. The innovation ecosystem can do a number of things to help mitigate the risks of innovators. These include services provided through universities, such as introducing entrepreneurship and innovation in university curricula, and support programs for pre-commercial incubation activities within the university. Another key element is the creation of a culture of innovation, which is a culture of risk acceptance, where failure is seen as creating the learning and experiences that lead to success. Such a culture emerges largely from the tone set by the institutional actors in the innovation ecosystem—universities and governments. If these support institutions themselves are too risk averse, or are too punitive of failure, a true culture of innovation cannot flourish.

Federal innovation investment and programming should seek to balance diligence and risk management with acceptance of risk-taking and occasional failure.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Create an inclusive economy, including innovation support systems for Canadians in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078639
It is growing increasingly clear that an economy in which only certain segments of the population participate in the economy and are afforded innovati .... Read more

It is growing increasingly clear that an economy in which only certain segments of the population participate in the economy and are afforded innovation support will underperform. As the Federal Government strives to make its Innovation Agenda as inclusive as possible it will be important to ensure that supports for innovation are not merely concentrated in the largest, most affluent cities, but also are developed to allow Canadians living in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities—communities often facing the most difficult economic challenges in the country, not to mention being the site of the natural resources that continue to drive the national economy—to avail, including the supports offered by universities, ranging from academic programs, pure and applied collaborative research opportunities, and entrepreneurship training and support (i.e. incubation and acceleration).

Ensure that any new Federal innovation policies or funding programs, including those for incubators and accelerators, are developed to allow Canadians living in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities to avail of the benefits of working with university, and other players in the innovation ecosystem.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Invest in infrastructure and programs that support bridging organizations

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078390
A key to Memorial’s ongoing success in supporting provincial and national innovation and prosperity has been the success of a number of universi .... Read more

A key to Memorial’s ongoing success in supporting provincial and national innovation and prosperity has been the success of a number of university units and centres that exist to help bridge the divide between university knowledge and community needs. Consistent with the recommendations of the Jenkins Task force, these organizations work with industry, government, and community partners to help turn ideas into innovative solutions, bolster industry-led R&D, an area in which Canada lags behind other OECD nations, and form the heart of sectoral clusters.

Since its inception, Memorial has had a legislative mandate to contribute to the social and economic development of the province. This “special obligation” to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador had led to a university that is an international leader in publicly-engaged teaching and learning and research. Experiential learning, service learning, applied research, and faculty members and staff with expertise and commitment to knowledge mobilization and community-based research, typify Memorial’s leadership in partnering with industry, community organizations and governments within the province and beyond.

A key element of this success has been the establishment of boundary-spanning institutions and mechanisms that enable external partners to access the expertise and resources of university faculty and staff, and which enable research, teaching and learning to respond to needs and opportunities identified by external partners. These vehicles for innovation and collaboration also facilitate mutual identification of shared projects, ground-truthing during the research and commercialization process, and result in external partners who have commitment to apply results in real world contexts.

Drs. David Wolfe and Peter Warrian of the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School, University of Toronto, recently completed a report, “C-CORE as a Networked Industrial Policy Initiative,” highlighted this unique university-owned, entrepreneurial boundary spanner organization (elaborated upon below). Drs. Wolfe and Warrian are now embarking on a study of the Marine Institute at Memorial, another world-leading unit which links the applied training and industrial-sponsored research of a polytechnic, with the research expertise and highly trained personal of the university.

Memorial also has nationally and internationally recognized units in the Genesis Centre technology incubator, the Lesley Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, identified by the OECD as an international best practice, and the NL Centre of Applied Health Research, with a Director who reports jointly to the Dean of Medicine and the Deputy Minister of Health. Memorial is also the developer and steward of Yaffle, an on-line connecting tool being expanded to the college system in NL and to universities in the Maritimes and potentially across the country.

The federal government should work with the funding councils and the National Research Council, or establish separate departmental programing, to support such critically important boundary spanning institutions and on-line tools.

The federal government should make a strategic investment in the economic and environmental well-being of Canada through supporting the establishment of the Fisheries and Marine Institute Holyrood Marine Base Phase IIB ($25 million) and the C-CORE Cold Ocean Oil Spill Response Centre of Excellence ($35 million).

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Make it easier for talented international students and researchers to come to and stay in Canada

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 09/28/2016 1475078229
With an aging population, Canada’s innovation performance will depend heavily on the country’s ability to attract and retain talented peop .... Read more

With an aging population, Canada’s innovation performance will depend heavily on the country’s ability to attract and retain talented people from around the world. Universities across Canada, and particularly Memorial University, are a gateway to Canada for many bright, talented young people, and it will be imperative that many of these international students are encouraged to stay in Canada to live and work following graduation.

Canada should adopt immigration policies that make Canada a destination of choice for top talent from around the world, and include pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for top students and researchers.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Increase support for pure, applied, and interdisciplinary research excellence for students and faculty.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078124
Driven, by and large, by universities, pure, or theoretical research helps to develop the knowledge breakthroughs that form the basis for new innovati .... Read more

Driven, by and large, by universities, pure, or theoretical research helps to develop the knowledge breakthroughs that form the basis for new innovations. Likewise, and often more immediately, strong applied research done in collaboration with community, industry, or government partners also leads to impactful innovation. And as the range of social and economic problems grow increasingly complex, both pure and applied research will require interdisciplinary teams to contend with the entire scope of these challenges and develop the innovations that are able to address them.

Federal support, through the three research councils, should be increased, and funding program policies should be adapted to facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative applied research projects between university, community, industry, and government partners.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Promote experiential learning opportunities for students.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475077911
The best way to ensure more innovation, and resultant economic and social benefits, is to foster the development of more innovators. One effective way .... Read more

The best way to ensure more innovation, and resultant economic and social benefits, is to foster the development of more innovators. One effective way to do this is to provide post-secondary students with real-world experiential learning opportunities throughout the course of their studies. This includes co-operative programs, internships, and course work experiential opportunities.

The Federal support for programs like MITACS should be expanded to increase the opportunities for students in all areas of the country and from all academic backgrounds, working in all sectors of the Canadian economy.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Instead of funding startups, educate a startup work force

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/02/2016 1472844309
Canada's comparative advantage should rest in our education system, where we can educate the next generation of innovators. While other countries adap .... Read more

Canada's comparative advantage should rest in our education system, where we can educate the next generation of innovators. While other countries adapt to the changing landscape, our educators have remained complacent, looking to government to lead the way on innovation.”

 

“With more than two million students enrolled in Canadian postsecondary institutions every year, our university and college campuses have a far greater opportunity to spur innovation than any government program.”

 

“To compete, our graduates need skills formed in the latest technology programs, which means that universities and colleges need to update their course material and delivery.”

“ We should also subsidize the cost of postsecondary programs that are in highest demand by technology companies. We talk about the need for more engineers and more technical talent, while the price of these degrees is among the most expensive on our campuses. This logic would be dismissed by any student in first-year microeconomics.”

Jeffrey Doucet, Co-founder and chief executive officer of CareerJSM

 Instead of funding startups, educate a startup work force, Globe and Mail. September 2, 2016.

Credit: Jeffrey Doucet, Globe and Mail

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Adopt an inclusive and coordinated approach to innovation programs, across disciplines and communities.

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/02/2016 1472843342
As Minister Bains recently said, “Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians.” It is .... Read more

As Minister Bains recently said, “Canada needs a bold, coordinated strategy on innovation that delivers results for all Canadians.” It is vital that in 2016, our approach to innovation is both an inclusive and coordinated one. A strategy that benefits only certain regions, industries, or disciplines will be insufficient for innovation leadership.

Without careful planning, the shift towards an increasingly tech-driven, globalized economy may exacerbate existing social disparities. An inclusive approach to innovation will make the most of the skills, qualifications, and ideas held across Canada’s diverse population, and in particular women, Indigenous peoples, and new Canadians.

Canada’s strategy must also promote new partnerships across sectors and borders, while avoiding duplication of efforts. Enhanced collaboration and greater integration among players in Canada’s innovation ecosystem must be a priority if public funds are to be invested as strategically and effectively as possible.

Mitacs supports these objectives by working with provincial, national and international partners across disciplines and sectors to improve Canadian productivity and growth. Our expansive network allows Mitacs’ innovation internships to be integrated into complimentary initiatives, avoiding duplication and presenting a simplified point of access for participants. Specifically, Mitacs has worked to support this coordination through partnerships with organizations like CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC, Genome Canada, NRC-IRAP and many more federally supported entities promoting Canadian innovation.

Finally, an inclusive and coordinated approach must recognize the continued importance of basic research. Mitacs encourages the federal government to support Canada’s granting councils, and to promote basic research at colleges, polytechnics and universities across Canada. Often, basic research leads to new discoveries, and support for untargeted research is important to our innovative future.

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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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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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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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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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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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Four Ideas to Grow Innovative Talent

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/12/2016 1471029760
Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce &ldquo .... Read more

Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce “made-in-Canada” talent: the highly qualified and skilled workers that Canadian businesses and organizations seek.  Without better labour market forecasting, Canada cannot build an inclusive talent pool for the 21st century workplace.  We present four ideas below:

  1. Direct Statistics Canada to create, deliver and disseminate high-quality, current, relevant and comparable labour market information.

This information will benefit learners and employers and encourage informed choices about careers and jobs by providing data on skills-in-demand, employment outcomes by education type, demand for work-integrated learning, apprenticeship completion rates

2. Create a Youth Entrepreneur Seed Fund to support students enrolled in post-secondary institutions to acquire vital entrepreneurial skills.

Polytechnics and colleges offer many services, courses and centres to help young entrepreneurs. Current federal support for young entrepreneurs exists as repayable loans only; we propose a grant program for students working under the guidance of an instructor or mentor.

3. Create an innovation-focused internship program connecting polytechnic and college undergraduate students with firms and non-profit organizations.

This work-integrated learning initiative will build applied research and innovation skills, as well as enhance graduate employment outcomes, while also addressing employer need for workers with innovation skills.

4. Expand existing research talent programs at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to increase participation by polytechnic and college students.

Evidence shows that real-world research is conducted by collaborative teams, across the credential spectrum. Yet, programs designed to mentor the next generation of researchers are primarily open to graduate and post-doctoral researchers because of a narrow interpretation of terms and conditions. These programs should include the talent produced by polytechnics and colleges.

A polytechnic education builds resilient and resourceful workers for the 21st century economy.  These talented learners should be included in any government action for equipping youth with entrepreneurial and creative skills.

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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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