Top Ten

October 6, 2014

Employment Minister calls on private sector to invest in skills training

Speaking at the Canada 2020 conference, Canadian Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney spoke out about the need for Canadian business to do their fair share in contributing to employee skills development. “It’s about bending the arc in the direction of more employer-led, demand-driven training … We need to see businesses put more resources into skills development,” Kenney told reporters. Kenney was responding in part to criticism from Canadian business owners of the government’s planned modifications to the temporary foreign workers program, which they say will prevent them from accessing the skilled labour that they need to fill jobs. “Certainly I say to [business], ‘Don’t come to me and demand temporary foreign workers to address your labour challenges if you’re not showing us how you’re investing in skills training,'” Kenney said. Kenney also advocated encouraging Canadians to get involved in a trade at a younger age as a way to manage the perceived skills gap. Ottawa Citizen | National Post

Okanagan College kicks off fundraising campaign with $2.5 M in donations

Okanagan College has kicked off its campaign to raise funds for a renovated and expanded Trades Training Complex with $2.5 M in commitments from 43 donors. “We’ve only just launched our campaign and we’re more than a third of the way to reaching our $7-million goal,” said campaign Chair Dennis Gabelhouse. Gabelhouse was particularly pleased that $845,000 of the donations came from leaders in the local auto, welding, construction, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical sectors. $610,000 also came from local car dealerships. “To have one of our key trades sectors come forward with this level of commitment really sets the tone for what we hope will come,” said Gabelhouse. The total cost of the complex is expected to be $33 M; the province has committed $28 M to the project while the college is responsible for raising an additional $7 M to cover capital and support costs. OC News Release

SMU to offer BCom program in China

Saint Mary’s University has announced that it will offer a bachelor of commerce program at Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai, China. Students will learn from Chinese professors for the first 2 years of the program and from SMU faculty for the latter portion. Students completing the program will earn the same degree as those who attend at SMU’s Sobey School of Business in Halifax. The program will allow Chinese students who cannot afford to travel to Canada for their studies to obtain a Canadian education. SMU has a longstanding relationship with Beijing Normal School; 120 students from the institution are studying at SMU this year alone. SMU expects to break even the first year of the program but enrolment is expected to expand rapidly, given an already high level of interest; 70 students were turned away this year due to a lack of seats. “It’s unusual for a business school to take on this kind of partnership at the undergraduate level. It’s a very ambitious and innovative partnership and it establishes the Sobey School as a significant international player,” said Sobey Dean Patricia Bradshaw. SMU News Release | Chronicle-Herald

Ryerson launches Advanced Manufacturing, Design, and 3D Printing Lab

Ryerson University has officially launched its new Advanced Manufacturing, Design, and 3D Printing Lab. In a news release, Ryerson describes the lab as “one of Canada’s most technologically advanced 3D printing research facilities.” It includes what is reportedly the only EOS P395 3D printer at a Canadian university, one of just 3 in the country. The lab was launched in partnership with photographer Edward Burtynsky, co-founder of Think2Thing, and Bionik Laboratories. Wendy Cukier, VP Research and Innovation at Ryerson, said, “the lab leverages our research expertise with the design and additive manufacturing excellence of Think2Thing and Bionik’s groundbreaking work in the development and commercialization of control systems to drive robotic medical devices with companies across sectors.” Ryerson News Release

OCADU, MakeWorks partner on new incubator space

A new partnership means that entrepreneurs working in OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst Incubator will now have access to MakeWorks, a creative studio for makers, designers, and startups. MakeWorks offers a 10,000-square-foot facility that includes a prototyping and electronics lab, a MakerSpace, and an event space. It also offers access to more than 30 other startups as well as involvement in community events that will give Imagination Catalyst entrepreneurs the ability to receive valuable feedback on their projects. “This unique partnership will bolster OCADU’s ability to provide the entrepreneurs in its incubator with more tools, mentors, and space for their entrepreneurial pursuits,” said Helmut Reichenbächer, OCADU’s AVP Research and Dean of Graduate Studies. OCADU News Release

MacEwan President seeks to break down walls between colleges, universities

MacEwan University President David Atkinson says that a rigid divide between colleges and universities is counterproductive in today’s economy. “We need to find some new pathways and get past the two solitudes,” he said. “The model for higher education can’t just be aimed at the high school student who comes for four years and be done.” He argues for a model that is more accommodating of students already in the workforce but looking to upgrade, as well as for recent immigrants seeking education. To this end, MacEwan will begin allowing students pursuing college diplomas to move directly into university degree programs, and will accept full credit for college courses. Atkinson says the move is reflective of the fact that a university degree is “the currency” of the job market. “We made the decision to be different,” he said. Edmonton Journal

Former federal analyst calls for collaborative approach to overcoming experience gap

A former senior policy analyst for the federal government says that the bond between labour and employment is broken. Tom Zizys says that the labour market currently offers plenty of jobs at the top and at the bottom, but few in the middle. He adds that Canada has focused too narrowly on the “supply” side of the labour market, producing a highly educated workforce that nevertheless has difficulty finding work. Instead, he says, more attention should be paid to the lack of jobs and employers’ unwillingness to provide training and experience. According to Zizys, the skills gap is actually a work experience mismatch. “What we need are more opportunities in the workplace for people to acquire those skills and advance to better jobs,” he said. Zizys called for a comprehensive, long-term approach that unites employers, government, labour, educators, and community groups to identify and resolve labour market gaps. Toronto Star

Canadian Business lists top 10 MBA schools

Canadian Business has released its annual ranking of the top 10 MBA schools in Canada. The ranking relies on self-reported data and focuses on value-for-money. 7 factors are weighted into a program’s final score, including reputation, salary boost, classroom experience, average GMAT scores, tuition, required work experience, and program length. Lower tuition, higher work experience requirements, and shorter program lengths resulted in higher scores. UBC, McGill University, the University of Toronto, Western University, and the University of Windsor did not participate in the ranking. Among those institutions that did participate, Queen’s University’s MBA program scored the highest for its use of integrated case studies, its modular format, and the team-based and experiential learning opportunities offered to its students. HEC Montreal was ranked second, followed by York University’s Schulich School of Business. Programs at Concordia University and the University of Alberta rounded out the top 5. Full Rankings

Wellesley controversy raises questions over international relationships

A controversy at Wellesley College in Massachusetts over its international ties has led a faculty member to initiate a larger examination of US colleges’ relationships abroad. Sociology professor Thomas Cushman and other faculty members learned that Xia Yeliang, a professor at Peking University, with which Wellesley was pursuing a partnership, was facing termination for expressing his political views. In response, roughly 40% of faculty members signed a petition opposing the institutions’ agreement. Wellesley continues to work with Peking, but now gives faculty a stronger voice when considering international agreements. Cushman, meanwhile, is advocating more broadly for a cautious approach when it comes to cross-border collaboration. However, Cushman’s stance on the Peking University was not without its critics: some faculty members felt there was more good to be done on behalf of academic freedom by working with PekingU, while others criticized Cushman’s tactics, which included accusing another professor of being a communist. Cushman says that partnering too closely with authoritarian countries could make some topics off-limits at US universities, as well. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Survey shows US campus HR leaders’ attitudes toward retirement, adjuncts, social media

Inside Higher Ed has released the results of a new survey of campus HR leaders. Respondents to the survey expressed concerns that faculty members working past retirement age are limiting institutions’ flexibility to hire new faculty. 51% said that they were very or moderately concerned about a “lack of sufficient retirement incentives” for eligible faculty, but just 43% said that they strongly agreed that their institutions provided “sufficient phased retirement options for faculty.” A slim majority (51%) said that their institutions fairly compensate adjunct faculty members, and 38% said that adjuncts received “appropriate” benefits packages. But, the number who strongly agreed that adjuncts were receiving appropriate job security and due process protections dropped to 15% from 18% last year. On the matter of social media, 38% felt that colleges should have explicit policies limiting faculty members’ commentary on workplace-related matters. 32%, however, disagreed, and 31% were undecided. Inside Higher Ed