05 November 2012

Skills and education instrumentality

The recent Globe and Mail Our Time to Lead series on education offered many compelling stories on the need to transform education. For my own part, I remain mystified why some in the post secondary education world tend to avoid any talk of outcomes, namely jobs. As I pointed out in the online interactive video I did for the series, why is that career centres on Canada's university campuses are an after thought? Why do we leave it to the imagination of students to think about their future careers, when we could be encouraging people to apply what they learn to important social and economic issues. I allude to this in my op-ed on what I call open source learning. Today's Globe has an article by Gwyn Morgan in which he talks about the fact that Divisions between haves and have-nots begin with having skills – or not. His point is similar - we ignore outcomes for education at our social and economic peril. Our future productivity and competitiveness depend on having a highly educated and skilled work force. Those who sit in the ivory tower and eschew the very real fact that finding one's way in the world means finding meaningful work are perpetuating our downward slide into even poorer productivity. It's time we challenged these nostrums and exposed them for what they are: dangerous assumptions that ignore present - and future - realities.

To this point, our recent study Toronto Next: Return on Innovation clearly shows that employers want people who can apply their skills to work. This is a central aspect of innovation literacy.

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