Top Ten

January 8, 2015

uToronto receives $9 M for Digital Public Square project

The Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto will receive up to $9 M from the federal government to support the Digital Public Square Project. The Digital Public Square Project is an initiative that is intended to improve access to digital communications for people living in countries ruled by repressive regimes. With the new funding, the project will provide a digital space in which individuals who are unable to physically meet can hold dialogue with one another. “Canada believes that by harnessing new digital technologies to support freedom and democracy we can help give a voice to the voiceless. Through the Digital Public Square Project, the Munk School of Global Affairs will create open digital spaces to enable citizens to hold their governments to account in defending freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law,” said Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Janice Stein, former Director of the Munk School, will lead the project, which will also collaborate with private-sector partners from around the world. uToronto News

CCPA issues recommendations to attract, keep young workers in NL

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has published a new report that examines what it describes as “clear tensions between the needs and expectations of young workers and employers’ ability to create opportunities and working environments to deal with such challenges” in Newfoundland and Labrador. In spite of recent reports that NL graduates typically stay in the province, the report notes that youth unemployment and outmigration remain significant issues. CCPA says that student debt can make it difficult for young people to accept low-wage, precarious work, deterring young people from staying in the province. Work experience requirements also remain a barrier in NL, as does a lack of clarity around the level, type, and amount of training for which employers are responsible. The report includes 10 specific recommendations for youth attraction and retention, including the reduction and elimination of tuition fees, a reconsideration of experience requirements for young workers, and the creation of provincial standards for levels of required job training. CCPA News Release | Full Report

BC releases labour market forecast for next 7 years

British Columbia’s government has released a new report that predicts that there will be nearly 1 M job openings between now and 2022. Two-thirds of those openings are expected to be due to the retirement of baby boomers, with the remaining third attributed to economic growth. Four-fifths of the positions will require some form of PSE, and 44% of the jobs will be in skilled trades and technical occupations. The province also suggests that liquid natural gas development could add an additional 100,000 openings to the forecasted figure. The 3 occupation groups with the most expected openings over the next 7 years are projected to be sales and service occupations; business, finance, and administration occupations; and trades, transport, and equipment operators and related occupations. Most openings will occur in the Lower Mainland, while the Northeast, the North Coast and Nechako, and the Lower Mainland/Southwest regions are expected to see growth in demand for workers at rates above the provincial average of 1.2%. BC News Release | The Province | Full Report

CBU President calls for “new conversation” on PSE funding

In a new post on Academica’s Rethinking Higher Ed Forum, Cape Breton University President David Wheeler calls for “a new conversation” on PSE funding in Canada. Wheeler draws on his experience in English higher education to examine a number of international best practices that he believes may have merit in a Canadian context. He cites 5 areas that would benefit from strategic coordination between federal and provincial governments and from incentive-based funding: marketing Canada as a higher education destination; enhancing the impact of research; enhancing social justice; supporting First Nations access and success in education; and supporting the role of universities in regional economic development. Wheeler says that these areas are vital to the economic success of the country, as well as to the future of Canadian graduates and society as a whole. Rethinking Higher Ed

Redeemer adopts new strategic plan to meet shifts in PSE landscape

Redeemer University College has adopted a new strategic plan that is designed to help the institution respond to what it describes as “major shifts in the educational landscape.” The Redeemer 2020 plan includes the launch of a new Centre for Experiential Learning, as well as the creation of a new major in Media and Communications Studies. Redeemer will also revise a number of existing programs, with some facing restructuring or possible elimination. The plan calls for a review of the school’s core curriculum and a new marketing and communications strategy designed to increase Redeemer’s presence in its “impact markets” as well as in non-traditional markets. “As a relatively small university, we need to and can be responsive to our environment. We need to adapt without changing the heart of who we are,” said Redeemer President Hubert Krygsman. Redeemer News Release

Conference Board finds most PhDs are employed outside of academia

The Conference Board of Canada has released new data that shed light on where Canadian PhD degree-holders are employed. The report notes that Canada has more than 200,000 people who hold PhDs, 50% more than in 2001. PhDs were found to have a lower unemployment rate (4.1%) than that of all Canadians (6.2%), as well as a higher labour force participation rate (89.3%) than the national rate of 80.3%. The data also show that while 40% of the country’s PhDs are employed in the PSE sector, just 18.6% of PhDs are employed as full-time professors. Three-fifths are engaged in careers outside of the academy, with 17% working in the natural and applied sciences; 11% in health-related occupations; and 11% in social, community, and government services and education other than PSE. The data show that non-academic careers are the norm for PhDs; based on this fact, the Conference Board calls for better understanding and awareness of the value PhDs bring to non-academic roles. The report also says that more must be done to prepare PhD students and graduates for non-academic careers, an issue recently discussed by Catherine Maybrey on Academica’s Rethinking Higher Ed ForumConference Board Blog

HEQCO study shows university worth the investment even in recession

According to a new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), a university education is worth the investment, even during economically troubled times. The study, Still Worth It After All These Years, examined data from sources such as Statistics Canada; Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; and Employment and Social Development Canada, finding that “university skills and credentials do not isolate one from the challenges of a poor labour market but they significantly improve the odds of short-term and–more importantly–long-term success.” The study looked at historical trends that showed university graduates faring better than their counterparts with a high school education, and determined that this hasn’t changed significantly in light of the recent recession. Post-recession graduates may be having some difficulties finding employment, but the unemployment rate for these new graduates is still lower than for those with no PSE. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

Working holiday portion of TFW program could be hurting youth employment

The International Experience Canada initiative, a working holiday program for foreign youth that is part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program, could be affecting the employment of Canadian youth, according to internal Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) documents. One email from a senior policy adviser in the department noted that a study of a similar program in Australia revealed that “it is young local workers who are the main losers in the competition for employment. This is especially the case for those without post-school education, who are seeking less skilled, entry-level jobs.” The working holiday program is often held up as a positive feature of the TFW program, and Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney has called it a “benign subset” of the TFW program. However, as the largest area of the controversial TFW program, the International Experience Canada program allows tens of thousands of workers to come to Canada each year with employers not being required to prove that they were unable to hire a Canadian worker. Canadian labour groups also suggest that, under the program, construction sites hire youth who do not have the proper credentials needed for the work. Globe and Mail

Postscript: January 12, 2015

The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian government is planning cuts that would limit the number of foreign youth working in Canada. This news comes in the wake of an earlier report that suggested that the International Experience Canada initiative, part of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, was having a negative impact on the employment of Canadian youth. According to documents obtained by the Globe, the government has warned partner nations that quotas for young workers coming to Canada will be “reduced significantly” unless they begin to take on more Canadian workers. One document states that “24 of 32 countries’ programs (predominantly in the EU) are slated to be cut between 50 and 99 per cent.” A spokesperson for Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told the Globe that “we are not contemplating a reduction of numbers at this time.” Globe and Mail

US News releases annual rankings of online programs

US News and World Report has released its fourth annual ranking of online PSE programs. This year’s list ranks more than 1,200 online distance education programs, considering factors such as admissions selectivity, faculty credentials, student engagement, and peer reputation. The publication provides program-specific rankings in several areas, including business, nursing, engineering, and education; however, the rankings rely on self-reported data, and some institutions do not participate. Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus was ranked as the top online bachelor’s program, followed by Daytona State College, the University of Illinois Chicago, and Western Kentucky University, which all tied for third. Indiana University Bloomington’s Kelley School was ranked as the top graduate business program, and tied with Temple University’s Fox School and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler School as the top online MBA program. US News | Inside Higher Ed

PSE presidents have new book to guide their social media use

For PSE presidents looking to social media as a way of connecting with students and communities, a new book can help both experienced and new users navigate the difficult terrain of social media. #FollowtheLeader: Lessons in Social Media Success From #HigherEd CEOs, by Seneca College’s Daniel A Zaiontz, draws on interviews with 22 US and Canadian university and college presidents and offers case studies, an overview of benefits and dangers, and best practices for strategic use of social media. Zaiontz suggests that presidents explore the social media platform they are interested in to make sure it best fits them, and further encourages presidents to allow their own voice to be reflected in posts. He does, however, caution presidents to be careful with what they say, and to always consider the varied audience and the outcomes if a post were to go viral. Zaiontz also notes that presidents should plan out their use of social media strategically, assessing what they want to achieve and how social media can help. The Chronicle of Higher Education