07 November 2012

It's time to move from diagnosis to treatment for our innovation ills

Gordon Nixon and Kevin Lynch have a good article in today's Globe that discusses what ails Canada's innovation and productivity. There are no surprises here in their treatise on What's holding Ontario back? The article is worth the read, but we really need to move past saying what is wrong - diagnosing the problem - and move on to taking action. It is nice that the writers say that "Ontario is well-positioned for success, starting with one of the best-educated, most diverse work forces in the world." It would be nice if they were to acknowledge that this includes both college and university graduates - a fact sorely lacking from the Globe's Our Time to Lead feature on education. Even better would be to outline how we can better align our world leading R&D and education capacity to the needs of the economy. I won't belabour the point I made on this earlier, except to say that we need some straight talk on the alignment of skills - STEM and nonSTEM, including and importantly the contribution social sciences and humanities make to social and economic productivity. It really is time for us to realize that we need to work together to capitalize on this potential. It is much more difficult to build than it is to tear down. So here is my prescription for better productivity health: think not of ourselves but of what we are doing for the economy, work together to realize complementarity, and focus on downstream innovation and productivity. A people-centred innovation requires a deep understanding of human potential and capacity, and the willingness to learn and work together.

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