28 February 2008

Education inventory a good idea

The Council of Ministers of Education met earlier this week to discuss post-secondary education. Among the news items reported was their interest in configuring "a data-collection system to measure the gaps between the skills Canadian workers will need in the future and the postsecondary-education system's capacity to provide them." Here's a good idea for finding a way of ensuring that we have a responsive educational system.

This issue came up at the ACCC Applied Research Symposium, held in Edmonton this past week. The point is that Colleges and Polytechnics offer a nimble environment for applied research to be conducted in close concert with industry needs. In theory these projects are integrated in the curriculum, giving students practical field work in solving problems, integrated within the scope of their learning. Our ability to respond thus is contingent on funding models for applied research, and the recent NSERC CCIP (which was discussed at the Symposium) is indeed intended to enable more industrial R&D to take place. As Canada does a poor job overall with R&D spending, fostering a responsive education system that can also serve the needs of industry problem-solving would be a good way to encourage growth in our productivity. It certainly can't hurt.

25 February 2008

Education and the economy

I happened across an interesting story in the Calgary Herald the other day featuring PEI Senator Elizabeth Hubley who has said that Canada should provide tuition-free post-secondary education. Hubley makes the point that since the economy requires Highly Skilled and Qualified People we should be providing free education since a high school diploma is no longer the terminal standard it once was:

"As a society, we long ago decided to provide education through high school because it was the bare minimum needed to function in a modern economy," Hubley, a former provincial politician, said in a recent speech in the Senate. "But things have changed and a high-school diploma is no longer enough. If the bare minimum now is a post-secondary education, it should also be tuition-free."

This is a potentially good link into the productivity discussion that have been ongoing in Canada of late. Perhaps providing education to the post-secondary level is one facet of ensuring our productivity index can climb in conjunction with the Science and Technology Strategy.

20 February 2008

CFI Call For Proposals announced

The Canada Foundation for Innovation has announced its Leading Edge and New Initiatives Fund – Call for Proposals. The New Initiatives Funds (NIF) competition represents the opportunity for the College and Polytechnic applied research to apply for infrastructure funds.

01 February 2008

NSERC Colleges and Innovation funding announced

The NSERC Colleges and Innovation funding program has been announced. There are three rounds of competition: April 8, 2008; September 3, 2008; and December 19, 2008.Here is the announcement:

The description of the new College and Innovation (CCI) program is now available on the NSERC website. April 8 2008 is the deadline for submission of letters of intent for the first competition round. I invite you to read the program description, the competition timetable as well as background documents on our web site: http://www.nserc.ca/colleges/cci_e.asp.