02 July 2013

The polytechnic moment

It's fitting on the day after Canada Day that we turn to a discussion of Ken Coates' excellent article This is Canada’s polytechnic moment. Coates gave a spirited presentation at the recent Polytechnics Canada annual conference, and he picks up many of the ideas in the Globe article.Of interest to me is the focus not only on the needs of Canadian industry (in order to be more innovative and productive) but also the needs of today's learners. In addition, the call for greater cooperation among all actors in the post-secondary education space is important. The applied nature of our programs, our focus on working with industry on education and applied research, and in ensuring our graduates have the necessary technical and innovation skills for today and tomorrow are hallmarks of the polytechnic advantage.

The article is timely, given the recent release of the OECD's Education at a Glance 2013. Canada once again is at the top of the world in terms of post-secondary education attainment. The Globe's James Bradshaw outlines the reason for this is because High number of college graduates lowers Canada's youth unemployment, OECD report says. The OECD report contains a lot of information and variables, but the overall statistics are good in terms of attainment, not so good in terms of cost and funding. But a key take away, and relative top the Coates piece, is that there is a real need for the kind of education that Canadian polytechnics provide. This is complementary to that which is provided by colleges and universities across the country.

And so at a time when Canadians tend to reflect on the value of working together, it is timely to think of education in this way, with all parts contributing to a whole greater than the sum of its parts.