13 December 2007

News items on education and innovation

Recent news items about the role of education and innovation make interesting points on the relationship(s) between education, innovation and prosperity. As Canada slips in its OECD productivity rankings, these stories tell us about ways in which we can fill gaps in our productivity indexes with innovation and, of course, applied research.

The Canadian Council on Learning's recent report on Post-secondary Education in Canada: Strategies for Success "calls for the development of a road map that will provide strategic direction for post-secondary education—by setting goals and measuring progress—and makes specific recommendations on how Canada could achieve this in order to remain a “force to be reckoned with” on the international stage." A national post-secondary education system that is coordinated can better respond to present and future demands on the education, training and research needs of a knowledge-based economy workforce.

The Conference Board of Canada released this week an index on the attractiveness of Canadian cities, with Calgary leading the pack. The Globe and Mail's report on this item highlights the problem that "The credentials of highly educated immigrants are not being recognized, and their failure to achieve earning parity with their Canadian-born colleagues is 'a collective failure of business and all levels of government, not the cities' alone,' the report states." Getting internationally trained immigrants (ITIs) integrated into the workforce is essential if we are to climb the productivity ladder.

These stories together reflect the need for integrated education systems that link industrial needs with applied research capabilities that draw on regional strengths. In a global economy, competing with the school down the street is not the way to build a better national identity that links education, training and research closely with industrial and community needs. As I've said in this space in the past, we need to collaborate together to compete as a region, or even country. Doing so will foster improved Canadian innovation; prosperity will follow.

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