George Brown College issued the following announcement on Oct. 15.
Political candidates love to promise change. But the truth is that no matter who wins the federal election, change is coming to Canada — and it’s coming fast. Digital disruption, shifting demographics and economic transformations are redefining the very nature of work. Unless our next government prioritizes innovation and skills development – and is willing to collaborate with the provinces and post-secondary institutions to address the seismic shifts ahead — Canadians are going to be left behind.
Applied research is a prime example. With projects ranging from sustainable building to health-care, Canada’s polytechnic institutions support the growth and innovation of Canada’s many small businesses and prepare the entrepreneurial graduates our economy needs. In 2017-18 alone, the country’s 13 polytechnics conducted 3,100 applied research projects with 3,000 companies, engaging 13,200 students and developing 1,400 prototypes. Unfortunately, these partnerships are at risk.
That same year, George Brown College received more than $7 million in research funding from the government. But recent provincial cutbacks have eliminated access to funding programs that accounted for nearly 15 per cent – or $1 million – of that amount.
Meanwhile, despite the demonstrated impact of applied research on business innovation and talent development, both the federal and provincial governments have failed to provide the robust support required to deliver sustainable, high-impact research programming, such as funding for human capital, infrastructure and space maintenance. If we continue to see cuts, George Brown won’t be able to sustain our current applied research capacity past 2022, which will have a direct, negative impact on the economy in the GTA and beyond.
While post-secondary education falls under provincial jurisdiction, it’s an issue of national importance. This year’s federal budget included a much-needed investment in work-integrated learning — including a target of creating 84,000 new opportunities for students – and it will be essential that our next government continues this momentum.
Of course, the challenges for learners don’t end after graduation. Today’s post-secondary graduates are entering a labour market in which 42 per cent of jobs are at high risk of being automated in the next decade, according to Brookfield Institute. Our students can expect multiple career changes, and a continuous need to build new skills.
But the support systems in place are not equipped for this new reality. Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system was established when full-time jobs were the norm, and built for an industrial system that hasn’t existed in more than a decade. The current system fails to support those who return to post-secondary for retraining, and offers little to no support for the increasing number of self-employed Canadians and gig workers. We need our federal government to modernize EI, so that it works for Canadians.
As the pace of change speeds up, we’ll need all levels of government to support Canadian learners and workers. It’s vital to Canada’s economic survival that we get skills development right.
Original source: https://www.georgebrown.ca/news/feds-must-prioritize-skills-development-before-its-too-late/