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Growing Boldly – Insights is a series of regular posts where leaders share their perspectives on topics connected to the university's strategic vision process.

Growing boldly – Technology is shaking up the world of work, and so are we

May 19, 2021

Author: Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor


How can we prepare students for a future filled with driverless vehicles, robo-surgeons and other career-stealing robots? We already are.

The statistics vary, but sources like RBC’s Future Skills Report say that 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology this decade alone and double that will experience a significant shift to the skills required to do them.

While those numbers are alarming, the majority of the jobs most negatively impacted by tech are not the ones that university graduates are most suited to fill. The emotional intelligence, management, critical thinking, analytical and durable skills our students graduate with are not easily replicated.

So when I am asked whether our students are ready for this disrupted workforce – which happens often – I turn that question around and ask, “Where do you think the disruptions come from?”

Universities are more than training institutions that align their programs to employer demands – we shape the world around us. We innovate and drive change. Yes, we supply talent, but we are not order-fillers for current jobs in specific categories. Universities influence demand for talent and help shape and contribute to sector and industry strategies. That matters because our province’s competitiveness – and investors’ decisions – are directly tied to the talent that exists here.

Universities nurture that talent by preparing graduates to look at things in new ways. Our graduates think across disciplines and systems and take entrepreneurial approaches. They ask big questions about the inequities they see around them. They understand that there is more than one way to look at the world. They creatively respond and adapt to challenging situations. They are ready to continue learning throughout their careers.

These are also the skills we must continue to focus on as we look to the future. Valuing diversity, resiliency and systems thinking, and focusing on skills, attributes and meaningful experiences that connect students with businesses and organizations are the way forward.

Work-integrated learning, community-engaged scholarship and social innovation, in particular, are critical – and not just for our students. There is reciprocity to these experiences. We have long-standing relationships with community and business leaders who have told us, as part of our strategic vision consultations, that these types of opportunities allow them to tap into student voices and fresh thinking that provides vibrant and innovative perspectives.

We do not simply study these organizations or send out students to work in their offices. We partner with them to find answers, and our faculty bring a structure that ensures students are engaged in ways that connect back to the classroom. Those experiences also influence future employers. They shape demand and help businesses and organizations see what they can gain from their next generation of employees.

It’s why, when employers ask me if students are ready for their worksites, I ask, “Are you ready for them?”

Yes, technology is changing the future of work, but so are universities and our graduates.
  


 

Read more about MacEwan's Strategic Vision Process   

 


 

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Growing boldly – The future is hybrid

“Growing our enrolment to meet demand will mean finding ways to use the space we have more efficiently.”


Growing into greatness

“Do I believe there is room for growth at MacEwan? Absolutely.”

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Growing boldly – Scholarly activity

“When I think about “growing boldly” in the context of scholarship, I first think about why students should care whether or not faculty members at an undergraduate institution actively engage in scholarly activity.”



 
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