Top Ten

March 3, 2014

Canada commits $6.1 million to skills training in BC

The Canadian government has announced it will commit $6.1 million to the Pacific Trail Pipelines Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Training Society to help Aboriginal people train as welders, heavy equipment operators, electricians, and pipefitters. The Training Society will partner with the private sector to provide skills training to almost 800 individuals, offering opportunities to gain well-paying employment in the resource sector. "The Government of Canada’s top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our government is helping Aboriginal people get the skills and training they need to secure meaningful employment and build better futures for themselves and their families,” says Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney. Canada News Release

uSask TransformUS non-confidence motion defeated at University Council

A motion of non-confidence in the University of Saskatchewan’s TransformUS plan was defeated last week by a vote of 42-18, following an extensive debate on the initiative at University Council. The motion was brought to the council after an open letter calling for more consultation on the plan was signed by some 200 students and faculty. “The budget decisions that we are looking at for the university are serious ones…and I think people recognized these are important decisions,” says uSask VP Academic Brett Fairbairn. Fairbairn explains that the TransformUS recommendations will go into an implementation plan to be presented "on or about May 1." CBC | Star Phoenix | TransformUS Updates

UBC opens new centre for brain health

The University of British Columbia, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health, has opened the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH), which will unite research and patient care to change the way brain disorders are treated and studied. The building, named after Vancouver philanthropist Djavad Mowafaghian in honour of his $15-million donation to UBC, houses clinics for Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression and other brain disorders. It will also allow UBC to educate and train hundreds of medical and graduate students. Construction of the $70-million centre was supported by the BC government, Industry Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, matching funds from the BC Knowledge Development Fund, and $13.5-million in donations from Charles Fipke, the Townsend family, the Borgland family, and Rudy North. UBC News Release

OCAD hosts “SheEO Program” for young female entrepreneurs

OCAD University this year is playing host to the SheEO Program, an intensive 4-day program that supports young female entrepreneurs through mentorship, guidance and seed money from established female entrepreneurs. “I believe many young women who are developing startup businesses are looking to connect with mentors with a female perspective,” says Petra Kassun-Mutch, Executive Director of the Imagination Catalyst, OCAD’s entrepreneurship incubator. “Many of the participants at the Toronto SheEO program will be from OCAD U, but we’re welcoming everyone.” SheEO was founded 10 years ago by “serial entrepreneur” Vicki Saunders. "We know that women have more than 50% of the world’s wealth and make 75% of buying decisions; SheEO is committed to bringing together successful women to support the next generation of ventures so we can build new models, a new mindset and new solutions for a better world," says Saunders. OCAD News Release

uLethbridge science and academic building site approved

The University of Lethbridge has received approval from its board of governors on a location for a new science and academic building, which is included in the university’s “Destination Project” campus and community plan. The site for the new facility, which will house many of the science teaching and research activities at uLethbridge, runs parallel to the southern edge of Valley Road and extends east to University Hall. “The conclusion of the site selection process will move planning onto the next phases, including a look at building massing, site layout and all design considerations,” says Destination Project Steering Committee Chair Andy Hakin. In December 2013, the Alberta government announced a $200-million commitment to the Destination Project. uLethbridge News Release

Over 300 Bahamian students have graduated from Holland College

Holland College has graduated over 300 students from the Bahamas, making it one of the largest Bahamian student populations of any institution in Canada, according to the college. Holland’s School of Performing Arts will be offering a new scholarship program to allow Bahamian students to pursue training in theatre, dance, or music. “As is the case in The Bahamas, Atlantic Canada in general—and Prince Edward Island in particular—enjoy a rich tradition in music, dance and theatre,” explains a Holland news release. Holland News Release

All provinces except Quebec agree to Job Grant deal

Canada’s Employment Minister Jason Kenney last week announced that all but one of the provinces and territories have signed off on a “compromise” deal on the controversial Canada Job Grant, which will provide funding to employees for skills training. "I understand that the Council of the Federation will be issuing a statement [Feb 28] indicating that 12 provinces and territories appreciate the final federal offer and the flexibility that is shown within it. They apparently will be expressing some concerns and look forward to moving forward with us on a bilateral basis," says Kenney. The terms of the deal have not been made public, but concerns voiced in the past few months include the fact that the grant would pull money away from programs that benefit youth, First Nations, people with disabilities, and other groups. Some provinces also expressed concerns with the amount of funding that provinces and business would have to contribute to secure the grants. Quebec has allegedly not agreed to the deal. CBC

Broadcasters able to hold on to audiences, ad spending

Marketing Magazine reports that television networks’ audience remains large enough to justify advertising purchases, despite messages in the media that say otherwise. An industry group reported last year that the average Canadian over age 18 spent 29.4 hours per week watching television; in the most recent Global AdView Pulse from Nielsen, advertising in newspaper, magazine, radio and cinema all declined while TV ads increased by 4.3%. Also, ZenithOptimedia projects that Canadian TV ad spending in 2014 will hit $3.47 billion, up from $3.39 billion in 2013. Marketing Mag does point out that none of the media grew at anything close to the ad spending of internet, which was up 32.4%, but adds that digital was clearly stealing more from other media than from TV. A recent ZenithOptimedia report says broadcasters are adapting to the internet demand by offering multi-platform content. “Future ad revenue growth,” it stressed, “will come from [broadcasters’] digital offerings.” Marketing Magazine

US higher education enrolment growth to slow through 2022

A recent report released by the US Department of Education predicts that PSE enrolment in the US will grow by 14% from fall 2011 to fall 2022, but that the rate of growth will be “considerably smaller” than the 45% increase seen by the previous 14-year period. The projected enrolment increase is a percentage point lower than what the Education Department predicted in its report published last year on PSE enrolments from 2010 to 2021. The yearly reports also make predictions on elementary and secondary education enrolments, and the data on PSE is offered by characteristics such as students’ age, sex, and race or ethnicity. Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Report

Internet avatar creator could create virtual TAs

A Colorado-based software company, CodeBaby, has created “intelligent virtual assistants,” or avatars, that could be used in online courses to guide students through a website or application, or help them troubleshoot a topic raised in class. The avatars “can be customized with unique emotional, physical, and intellectual attributes, including ‘face wraps’ that can make the avatar resemble real flesh-and-blood instructors,” explains Forbes Magaizine. CodeBaby is used by many different types of organizations for customer service, and several PSE institutions in the US have signed on. Pikes Peak Community College uses the avatars to guide students through enrolment, answering any questions and offering advice about their application. Pikes Peak’s avatar “Addy” allegedly brought a 54% spike in completed applications and a 78% decrease in errors found on applications. CodeBaby e-Learning Specialist Dennis McGuire “envisions a time when a student might be guided through a problem online by a virtual teacher.” Forbes