In the global knowledge economy, it is increasingly clear that we must develop and mobilize a new number one "natural resource": our highly-educated workforce. And, we must cultivate this advantage quickly, as countries worldwide brace for significant labour shortages created by changing demographics and the requirements of new knowledge-based jobs.

In Canada, the rising demand for highlyeducated workers has been dramatic. Since 1990, the number of jobs for university graduates has doubled, while jobs for those with no postsecondary education have declined. In fact, between 2000 and 2006, jobs for university graduates were the fastest growing segment of the labour market in most provinces – even in Alberta, where skilled trade shortages are making the news daily.

Increasing Demand on University Enrolment

Our labour market's demand for university-educated workers is expected to deepen when baby boomers retire. Considering that one million working graduates are now more than 50 years old, replacing the boomers will place increasing demands on university enrolment over the coming decade.

The good news, according to a recent report released by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada on enrolment trends, is that factors including demographics, labour market demand, parental influence, urbanization, immigration and socio-economic status will continue to lead more and more Canadians to seek a university education. These factors will continue to drive national enrolment growth over the coming decade, even when Canada's population aged 18 to 21 begins to contract in about 2012, when the "echo-bust" generation reaches university age.

A challenge remains, however. While Canadian university participation rates continue to rise, we still have room to grow. And grow we must. The advantage Canada once held in university participation rates has slipped over the last two decades. Canada now places 18th out of 27 OECD countries in providing young people the opportunity to enrol in university full-time soon after high school.

To grow our labour markets and to compete successfully on the world stage, Canada needs to increase overall education levels, particularly by reaching out to nontraditional groups such as Aboriginals, visible minorities, students from less advantaged economic backgrounds and international students. However, future growth cannot be met without concurrent strategies to address the capacity of universities to accommodate growing numbers of students and provide them with a high quality research-enriched education.

Key Drivers of Competitiveness

The benefits are clear. Not only do graduates meet growing labour market demand for their skills, they also generate economic and social value, making them key drivers of competitiveness and productivity. Over the course of their careers, university graduates earn significantly more on average than those with a high school education and have the highest levels of workforce participation and the lowest levels of unemployment. University graduates are more likely to live longer and generally enjoy better health. They also broaden the tax base, funding Canada's health care system and vital social services.

Transferring New Knowledge and Ideas to Society

The contributions of universities – the highly skilled graduates and the transfer of new knowledge and ideas to society generated through research – are critical. As our traditional competitors and emerging economies, such as China and India, continue to increase their investments significantly in higher education and research, we must ensure that Canadians have the advanced education and skills required for the 21st century.

More than ever, research and a highlyeducated and skilled workforce are the cornerstones of our country's global competitiveness and its capacity to nurture innovation. Universities are committed to helping Canada build the best-educated, most-skilled and most flexible workforce in the world.


The Mission Control Room at NASA is a hallowed place. Its history is ever present. On occasion, after a mission was over, I have sat in my Capcom chair when everyone else had gone and the display screens were static, and imagined what it would have been like to be Capcom for the NASA Canadians from the Apollo generation almost 40 years ago. How would they have handled the tough moments?

Back then, the flight director was the "king" of the room and John Hodge was the second flight director ever. John earned his wings of respect handling the first emergency in space when Gemini VIII spun into a fast tumble and out of control, nauseating the astronauts. I imagined him methodically directing the team, walking Neil Armstrong through the corrective actions. When they regained control, the Gemini capsule was seconds away from breakup. I heard this story before I knew John used to work at AVRO Canada in Toronto. Rod Rose, also from AVRO, would have sat at the consul behind me to my left. And Owen Coons, from Hamilton would have been at the Flight Surgeon's consul in the row behind me to my right. In situations that directly involved the crew this was the inner cabinet… the heart of decision-making in mission control at NASA.

Canadians at the Helm

These three and the Capcom would rely on their number one man in the back room…Owen Maynard. Owen, born in Sarnia Ontario, was "the" Chief engineer of the Apollo program and during missions he was the Spacecraft Analysis Network (SPAN) lead. He was the conduit to every contractor and had his finger on the minute technical details of any problem that surfaced. I find I cannot think of Owen without thinking of Jim Chamberlin from Kamloops, BC. Jim was head of engineering for the Mercury project and subsequently became the first project manager for Gemini. He is credited with designing the Gemini capsule and much of this design carried over to the Apollo capsule. I pictured all of them watching Dr. William Carpentier from Edmonton on the big screen in front of me walking down the steps, from the Mobile Quarantine Facility, with the Apollo 11 crew after their historical mission to the moon. He performed the medical tests on the crew in quarantine immediately after their return.

Pivotal Event

These and other NASA Canadians left when the AVRO Arrow was cancelled in 1959. In fact, after the first Apollo hiring process more than 25% of the NASA engineers were from Canada. In spite of their loss to Canada, there is no doubt that these NASA Canadians played a key role in encouraging Canada to become a major partner on both the Space Shuttle and the Space Station programs. Our unprecedented robotic capability has succeeded in making space activities more operational and since the Columbia accident our inspection capability has made reentry into the atmosphere an order of magnitude safer. It is a privilege to be a part of today's Canadian team. For that I feel indebted to these NASA Canadians from Apollo, and I admire the contribution they made to a triumph of human history, but the many times I have crossed the United States border on my way home… I have often wondered…


Robert Merton long ago drew sociologists' attention to the role of the university and academic science, highlighting its norms, value systems, structures, and differentiating academic and industrial or commercial science. But, most recent treatments have been solely economic or reductionist or both, focusing only on the university's role in technology-generation, innovation and firm formation. While the importance of the university as a contributor to regional competitiveness through the generation of innovation can be significant, we believe the university's role is equally as important from a social perspective, affecting both talent and attitudes. On its own, a university may be a substantial regional resource, but it is not enough. The university is not an "engine" of regional economic growth – it is part of a complex ecosystem that, when successful, both nourishes and is nourished by its surrounding community.

Deeper and More Fundamental Contributions

Most who have commented on the university's role in the economy believe the key lies in increasing its ability to transfer research to industry, generate new inventions and patents, and spin-off its technology in the form of startup companies. As such, there has been a movement around the world to make universities "engines of innovation," and to enhance their ability to commercialize their research. Universities have largely bought into this view because it makes their work more economically relevant and as a way to bolster their budgets. Unfortunately, not only does this view oversell the immediately commercial aspect of the university; it also misses the deeper and more fundamental contributions made by the university to innovative ecosystem, the larger economy, and society as a whole.

We suggest that the university's increasing role in the innovation process and in economic growth stems from deeper and more fundamental forces. We argue that its role is much broader, going beyond technology to include both talent and tolerance. The 3Ts theory of economic development, which specifies the interaction of technology, talent and tolerance in economic development, provides a broad and over arching framework to understand the university's role in economic development broadly.

The "On-Off" Switch

Strong university innovation does not necessarily translate into strong local high-tech industry. An apt, if oversimplified, metaphor for this dynamic is the university as the transmitter and the region as the receiver. In a few, highly selective cases the university sends out a strong signal which is picked up well by the region. But this is far from the norm. In a large number of cases, the university may be sending out a strong signal—it is carrying out a lot of technical R&D and producing patents—but the region's receiver is switched off and unable to take in the signal the university sends out.

Interestingly, these signals can be and are frequently picked up by other regions outside the place where the universities are located. This results in regions where the signal coming from local universities is weak, but the ability to pick up and absorb signals from outside is strong. The extent to which regions exhibit the capacity to absorb ideas and knowledge into their economies is indicative of the presence of a local ecosystem of creativity, places that, with their universities, establish a tolerant social climate—that is open, diverse, meritocratic and proactively inclusive of new people and new ideas. Such places are amenable to the attraction of both new ideas and creative and knowledgeable people.

Additionally, the university helps to change its surrounding ecosystem to make conditions more favorable for its seeds to take root. It creates an environment in which more and different types of ideas and firms can combine, compete, reproduce and evolve. The university can do a phenomenal job of cranking out large numbers of high quality innovations, but if the conditions outside the university confines are not appropriate, those ideas will be carried on the winds to locations that are amenable to their growth.

Technology, Talent and Tolerance

Our research has found that the university plays an important role across all 3T's. First, as major recipients of both public and private R&D funding, and as important hotbeds of invention and spinoff companies, universities are often at the cutting edge of technological innovation. Second, universities affect talent both directly and indirectly. They directly attract faculty, researchers and students, while also acting as indirect magnets that encourage other highly educated, talented and entrepreneurial people and firms to locate nearby, in part to draw on the universities' many resources. Third, research universities help shape a regional environment to be open to new ideas and diversity. They attract students and faculty from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, economic statuses, sexual orientations, and national origins. University communities are meritocratic and open to difference and eccentricity; they are places where talented people of all stripes interact in stimulating environments that encourage open thought, self-expression, new ideas, and experimentation.

A Powerful Creative Hub

The university comprises a powerful creative hub in regional development. On its own, the university is, at best, a necessary but insufficient component of successful regional economic development. To harness the university's capability to generate innovation and prosperity, it must be integrated into the region's broader creative ecosystem.

Special thanks to Brian Knudsen and Gary Gates who contributed to a research paper based on these themes.


Colleges and institutes contribute over $106.3 billion to the Canadian economy.

As Canadian society continues to map its economic transformation and navigate goals for the future, the knowledge and skills highway is being heralded as the key route to our sought-after destination of prosperity, competitiveness and full participation.

Signposts to the knowledge and skills highway can be found in the over 900 communities across Canada that are home to public, post-secondary colleges and institutes of technology. The mandate of these institutions is to provide the qualified people needed to maintain and drive the Canadian workforce. To produce highly qualified graduates from numerous diploma, certificate, degree and customized workplace training programs, colleges and institutes are integrally aligned with the current and forecasted needs of employers. Through thousands of Program Advisory Committees designed to solicit and absorb business and industry input into curriculum development and hiring expectations, and active participation in national human resource development through the Sector Councils, colleges and institutes ensure that their programs are always on the leading edge of skills identification and development as well as economic trends and market shifts.

For example, colleges and institutes have offered programs that retrained displaced workers affected by a sectoral collapse, such as mining and fisheries in certain regions of the country. These institutions have also introduced innovative digital media and new technologies to curricula to equip graduates with career-ready skills taught by high qualified industry professionals. In addition, applied research and development on college and institute campuses not only allows learners to benefit from new knowledge creation but also allows them to work closely with the clients accessing these institutions as business incubators, centres of excellence in various sectors such as textiles, mining, photonics, manufacturing, aviation etc., and as solution providers.

Solutions for Business and Communities

Communities comprised of business and industry leaders, students and workers all rely on the dynamic nature of colleges and institutes to nurture success. Business and industry can access the responsive and flexible workplace training expertise available through these institutions. New immigrants to Canada can seek opportunities to improve language skills and bridge education and training gaps at tailored college and institute programs. Aboriginal communities – rural and urban – can reach in to the post-secondary education system via specifically targeted college and institute programs or reach out through the multiple on-line platforms available. University graduates can, and often do, access college and institute diploma programs to enrich their education into a career path.

A Direct Contributor to the Economy

The Canadian community as a whole also benefits from the dynamism of colleges and institutes. In 2006, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges released the results of a study showing that colleges and institutes contribute over $106.3 billion to the Canadian economy. The independent research firm CCbenefits Inc. described these institutions as engines of economic growth affecting the national economy in two ways: through purchases from local suppliers and wages paid to employees; and, through a human capital effect stemming from an increase in the skill base of the workforce. The combination of operational expenditures and the effect of past student productivity represent an annual contribution of $106.3 billion, or 7.9 percent of current Gross Domestic Product. Colleges and institutes account for nearly eight percent of all direct and indirect workforce-related income in the national economy, which is approximately equivalent to 1.25 million jobs. Their activities encourage new business, assist existing business and create long-term economic growth by enhancing worker skills and providing customized training to local business and industry.


At current post-secondary participation rates, Canada will soon lack the highly skilled workers necessary to keep pace with retirement levels and meet anticipated job growth demands of the knowledge economy.

Canada needs a highly skilled and educated workforce to remain competitive and sustain its prosperity in an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy. As Kevin Lynch, the present Clerk of the Privy Council, points out, education both drives economic growth as a whole and determines the extent of any individual's personal success. "Well-educated knowledge workers are the new 'natural resource' of the new global economy," he argues. "Not many investments produce such large economic payoffs as education."1

An increasingly skilled and educated workforce is one in which more and more of its participants have completed post-secondary studies successfully. Already, nearly two out of every three new jobs require some form of post-secondary credential.2 Newly created jobs are clustering in sectors of the economy that increasingly require workers at ease with complexity, technology, and the rapid analysis and circulation of information; and the majority of existing jobs that are becoming vacant due to retirements require highly skilled people to fill them. Canada, therefore, will require more and more post-secondary graduates to meet the twin challenges of filling the new jobs the knowledge-based economy is creating and of replacing retiring older workers. It is essential, therefore, that young Canadians have access to post-secondary studies and the support needed to ensure successful completion of their programs.
While Canada performs relatively well in terms of participation in higher education, this performance has become static. In fact, maintaining, let alone increasing, the number of post-secondary graduates in coming years will prove challenging for two reasons: First, in the coming two decades the size of the young adult population will begin to decline. To keep the inflow of new workers equipped for the knowledge economy at least to present-day levels, a greater number of young adults will have to access and complete post-secondary studies.

Second, the rate of participation in post-secondary education among certain segments of the population, notably those from families with above average incomes or with parents who themselves went to college or university, is already fairly high. This means that significant gains can only be made by improving participation among those from less advantaged backgrounds, who currently are much less likely to pursue studies past high school.

Because of the range of barriers to access that students from such backgrounds face, and given that little progress was made during the 1990s in making access more equitable, this will not be easy. This second challenge is compounded in regions with sizable and growing Aboriginal populations. Aboriginal youth are currently much less likely to pursue post-secondary education than non- Aboriginal youth. In provinces where the youth population is increasingly Aboriginal in composition, such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, fewer and fewer students will graduate from higher education unless action is taken to address the access gap.

New approaches must be found to assist low-income Canadians, youth whose families have no prior history of post-secondary participation (first-generation students) and students from Aboriginal communities in accessing post-secondary studies and achieving once they are there. Experiments are underway in Canada (as well as the US and Europe, which face similar issues) to address these challenges, but greater awareness and action is required. This is not just an education issue. This is also a challenge for corporations that, working in partnership with educators, governments and the voluntary sector, can act now to stave off an eventual shortage in the skilled labour they will need to stay competitive in the global economy.

Canada is the top performer in educational attainment among OECD countries. In 2003, just over half of Canadians aged 25 to 34 had completed a post-secondary study program. However, while Canada has done well historically, participation in higher education is now increasing more slowly here than elsewhere, and other countries are making up lost ground. The Financial Times recently reported on a World Economic Forum assessment of countries according to the quality of their education system, ranking Canada in 14th place. The OECD's 2006 Education at a Glance found participation in post-secondary education in Canada to have stalled, with growth trailing many of its competitors between 1995 and 2002. While many young Canadians are enrolling in post-secondary programs, far too many abandon their studies before graduation, leaving them poorly equipped for the knowledge economy and, often, substantially indebted.

Equity is a major issue as well; enrolment in higher education remains tilted in favour of those from wealthier families, those whose parents pursued advanced studies, and those who are not Aboriginal.

Over three-quarters of students from higher-income families enrol in post-secondary studies, compared with less than half from lowest income backgrounds. At the university level, while 46% of the wealthiest attend, this drops to 20% among the lowest-income families.1

Recent data show that of every 100 young adults in Canada, 60 either complete or remain enrolled in post-secondary studies by age 20, 40 do not finish high school, do not access post-secondary education or drop out of post-secondary education.2

Among those whose parents earned a post-secondary degree, 72% are completing or continuing a post-secondary education. The figure drops to 52% among those whose parents did not go beyond high school. First Nation students have a much worse outcome: only 31% are enrolled in post-secondary education or have completed a degree in the period immediately following high school.

Significant improvement in enrolment can only be achieved by increasing participation among those from less advantaged backgrounds. Given the barriers that they face, this will not be easy.


Now, it is a nation's capacity to innovate that determines its success.

As Canadians, we are now writing the fourth chapter in the story of a remarkably successful society. It's about a country that grew from humble origins to global prominence through public investments that developed talent and advanced knowledge. The prospects for how the current chapter will unfold are promising.

Canadians wrote the first chapter in the nineteenth century. We established public schools to support the development of a strong civil society in a rural economy.

In the second chapter, we expanded public universities. This enabled Canada's successful transition to an urban, industrial society by the mid-twentieth century.

In the third chapter, Canadians built a significant home-grown research community, which helped create the sophisticated "made-in-Canada" civil society that met the challenges of the late-twentieth-century, post-industrial world.

Each of these chapters involved failures and successes. Overall, though, consistently rising public investment in developing talent and advancing knowledge explain why Canada's story remains one of the most remarkable of the past two centuries.

Today's knowledge economy presents us with new ground rules. Now, it is a nation's capacity to innovate that determines its success. And it is no surprise, given our story so far, that the federal government's recent science and technology strategy commits to maintaining public support of education to write the fourth chapter, and to ensuring Canada continues to thrive.

That fourth chapter has begun well. During the past decade, significant federal investments in research have helped Canadians come to grips with the new questions of the early twenty-first century: How can Canada prosper in the global, knowledge-based economy? What can we do to foster a culture of innovation?

This is nowhere better illustrated than in the social sciences and humanities, the research disciplines devoted to building understanding of people—individuals, communities and societies, past and present. Housed mostly in the nation's universities and fuelled mostly by public funds, "SSH" researchers are meeting the challenge of innovation on a number of fronts.
Direct research on basic questions about innovation is the first of these fronts: What goes into economic, technological and social innovation? What can be done to engender it? Why does it thrive in some places, for instance, and not in others?

Questions like these, in fact, drive the Innovation Systems Research Network. Led by the University of Toronto's David Wolfe (political science) and Meric Gertler (geography), the network brings university researchers together with public- and privatesector partners to generate and share new research knowledge.

Their first major study focused on industry clusters, those economic powerhouses—the archetype is Silicon Valley—that arise in particular regions. Researchers looked at the complex factors, from geography to public policy, that make clusters successful. They produced insights into how the model can best be applied to Canadian industries and regions, from multimedia in large cities to wood products in rural settings.

More than simply studying innovation, though, Canada's SSH researchers are innovators themselves. The "digital humanities," for instance, are showing the way forward for business and even the natural sciences as, 30 years after the introduction of the PC, the computer revolution continues to unfold.

Librarian Luciana Duranti runs InterPARES, a major—and very successful—University of British Columbia research project aimed at preserving digital records. Electronic files can become corrupted and unusable, while new technology can't always read older records. Such difficulties are a potential nightmare for everyone from individuals to schools to businesses to governments.

Duranti's solutions are now being adopted around the world. And her research "apprentices"—the PhD students and postdoctoral fellows she trains—are in high demand with employers such as securities commissions, Harvard and the IMF.

Developing talent is indeed another way the SSH research community is contributing to the larger society. For while observers used to lament the "lost researchers"—the roughly half of PhDs who leave academia after getting their degrees—now we celebrate all graduates. We've realized that we are seeding Canadian society, politics and business, as well as the research community, with a new generation of highly trained, knowledgeable and creative workers and leaders—exactly the people a knowledge economy needs most.

Talk of research and development often begins and ends with the development of technology. But after all, the point of technology is to enhance our quality of life and our prosperity. To that end, it is our ability to develop technologies within a human context and to capitalize on them appropriately that remains the key: to implement them successfully, to adapt them when necessary, and to see their potential for further, untapped applications.

And it is there that the social sciences and humanities play a central role, with such researchers as Duranti, Wolfe and Gertler showing the way.

At some point, our children and grandchildren will look back on these scholars and their work, and see in their legacy the renewal of Canada's historic policy of public investment in knowledge and talent.

For while better understanding may not guarantee a peaceful and prosperous future, nothing is more promising.


Canadians can be justifiably proud of the achievements of their schools. Indeed education is the only domain graded 'A – a leading performer' in the recent international bench marking study published by the Conference Board of Canada.1 The same study ranked Canada 'D' on innovation. More learning and an increased capacity for innovation are often proclaimed as critical means to a knowledge society that is economically robust, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Why does Canada excel in one domain and barely pass in the other?

Our students perform well on international assessments of learning because our school systems produce more equitable results than many others while achieving overall high standards. Our 15 year-olds ranked among the top three countries in reading literacy yet ranked 15th in students' sense of belonging and 29th in student participation out of 40 countries.2 These statistics suggest that we are too often failing to instill important human fundamentals along with the academic fundamentals.

Envisioning New Models

Just as research and development fuels innovations in the economic sector, so too can it give rise to new models for schools where the human qualities that support innovation are nurtured. Imagine a school where the traditional disciplines provide the basis from which students create new knowledge, where the work they do is interesting and makes a difference to themselves, their schools, their communities and even the world. Imagine a school where students use mathematics, science, history, geography, civics and economics to affect issues of pollution, water quality, and energy conservation – where the answer to the proverbial dinner table question, "What did you do in school today?" is no longer, "Nothing much."

Harnessing Imagination

University researchers in Canada, often with public investments through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, are uncovering the untapped potential in our kids. Harnessing imagination rather than demanding conformity, building knowledge rather than absorbing information, advancing multi-lingualism in the classroom while newcomers learn English or French, understanding the new literacies of an Internet generation, exploring water contamination in their own community to develop scientific understanding, and collecting and sharing the wisdom of elders are only few of the research-driven ideas in Canadian schools. Students participate with enthusiasm and energy because the work is interesting and relevant to their lives.

We know that many of these innovations in teaching and learning work well on a small scale. Adopting them on a large scale challenges ideas that have shaped schools over generations, ideas so familiar that we often don't realize the limitations they place on learning. Students work together to inquire into the problem they are studying, yet we assess them as individuals not as a team. Schools value some ways of learning more than others, yet collaborative learning is strengthened by the diversity of perspective, experience and approaches that different students bring to the work. Schools are expected to prepare students for different futures – university, college or work – according to their academic achievement rather than their aspirations or interests, yet we want all students to remain life-long learners. Information and communications technologies are essential to all kinds of work and learning in the adult world, yet schools still largely rely on exercise books and hand writing.

We Need A Different Conversation

Most of us don't suddenly become curious, adaptive, collaborative or creative in adulthood. These are human dispositions that need to be nurtured in childhood and built upon during adolescence. If we want our schools to play their part in creating the human fundamentals of an innovative society, we need a different conversation about schools, about what we want them to achieve and what old ideas we're prepared to abandon in favour of better ones.

1 Conference Board of Canada. June 2007. How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada. "http://www.conferenceboard.ca/"

2 Doug Willms. Canadian Students "Tell Them From Me". Education Canada. CEA. Summer 2007


A 2006 poll commissioned by CCL found that 87 percent of Canadians believe a highly skilled and educated workforce is the most important thing for our country's economic future—and they are right. By 2013, 70 percent of new and existing jobs will require postsecondary credentials.

However, post-secondary education (PSE) is about much more than young students in colleges or universities. In a society that requires increasing levels of knowledge, PSE must be a part of the lives of all Canadians—from degree programs to workplace learning, upgrading technical skills, adult literacy, and research.

How Ready are We?

How ready is Canada for this new reality? In 2006, CCL produced the first-ever report to provide a nation-wide perspective on PSE; Canadian Post-Secondary Education: A Positive Record – An Uncertain Future.

The study found that, in general, Canada has a positive record in PSE, with the secondhighest rate of post-secondary completion in the world. However, scratch below the surface and there is reason for concern.

There are mismatches between labour market needs and Canada's capacity to fill them, whether inadequate apprenticeships in the skilled trades or insufficient engineers and scientists to drive innovation.

Canada's performance in research and development—most of which takes place in post-secondary institutions—ranks 15th among OECD countries.

More than nine million Canadian adults lack the literacy skills needed in modern society.
One-and-a-half million Canadians have unmeet job-related adult education and training needs, yet the PSE sector is not designed to support ongoing learning.

The data required to track Canada's performance are incomplete, updated on different timetables, and use different definitions, making it difficult to gauge the challenges facing PSE—let alone develop appropriate responses.

Despite the many strengths of Canada's post-secondary institutions and educators, CCL concluded that the absence of clear pan-Canadian goals and the ability to measure achievement of those goals, means that Canada is not reaping the full benefits from its investments in PSE.

CCL found two principal differences between Canada's approach and that of other countries. First, many other developed countries have developed robust national systems to enable them to make policy and planning decisions about PSE based on adequate and timely information. Secondly, these countries have developed (or are now developing) national agendas and strategies for PSE. Canada risks falling behind not because the sector is less able or accountable, but because the country does not have the necessary tools and mechanisms to maximize efficiencies and benefits.

The Right Tools are Essential

If Canada is serious about improving educational outcomes it must develop appropriate tools for this task. Canada needs to articulate a set of explicit objectives for PSE that define what must be achieved to maximize economic growth and achieve a high quality of life. Issues of quality, access, credit transfers, recognition of prior learning, R&D and innovation—to name but a few—cannot be addressed in a fragmented manner. They require a shared vision and collective action.

Canada must develop mechanisms to increase coordination across the country, and provide the capacity to assess the effectiveness of PSE—while respecting provincial responsibilities and academic autonomy of post-secondary institutions.

Finally, we need a clear set of indicators and measures to assess PSE performance and progress on an ongoing basis. This requires consistent, comprehensive and comparable measures and data, to track changes over time as well as enable comparison with other countries.

The provinces and territories have primary responsibility for PSE. However, that should be no barrier to national planning, goal-setting and progress in PSE. In fact, individual provinces are far more likely to achieve their objectives within a national framework than without. Workers, capital, students, professionals, even institutions are increasingly mobile. Education is national and international, not just local. Those societies that set the conditions for success will be those that prosper.

The Canadian Council on Learning will be releasing its second annual report on PSE in Canada in late 2007.

Building Prosperity
Research infrastructure funding provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation is contributing to world-class research and innovation at Canada's universities, colleges...
Canada at the Summit
Canada's colleges, universities, businesses and municipalities are forging economic alliances to take on the world.
The Life Changers
Canada's future as a nation
of innovation.
Education + Innovation
Leading thinkess turn their attention to the roll of education in Canada's economic competitiveness.
Universities: Majoring in Canada's Future
"The pace is being set around the world by countries that are investing in knowledge and innovation." Where does Canada stand in the race for knowledge?
Colleges on a Mission
The core mission of Canada's colleges and institutes is to stimulate the economic and social development of the communities they serve.
Ramping Up
Employment Skills
Choosing colleges and institutes for adult re-skilling and workforce-based training is the answer for smart businesses.
The Knowledge
Payback
"For every dollar a student invests in a college or institute education, he or she will receive a cumulative $4.57 in higher future earnings for the next 30 years."
What is an Educated
Canadian?
A sampling of ideas and research in the human sciences that illustrate the opportunities to become both a learning and innovative society.
New Learning for a
New Economy
Exploring learning, innovation and the relationships among them.