THE fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
— Carl Sandburg
My parents were strong believers in the connection between a university degree, a full-time, permanent job with benefits, and financial security. Like so many other parents, they sacrificed to make sure that their child had his shot at the brass ring.
By 2020, worldwide university enrollment will reach 204 million. Every one of those students wants a shot at their brass ring. There are more than 23,000 universities around the world from which to choose. Canada boasts nearly one million full-time university students of its own.
Parents don’t invest after-tax dollars in higher education so that their children can qualify for the 57% of jobs in Canada that are now considered precarious (as in: not permanent; not full-time; no benefits; other than 40 hours a week). Or for work where robots, technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning will do away with the need for humans in 40% of certain kinds of work within the next twenty years.
Such is change. It may come “on little cat feet”, but it brings us Tesla, the Internet, NETFLIX, Amazon, drones, iPhones, Google, self-driving vehicles, and debates at City Hall about UBER and Airbnb. Not to mention the software I used to create what you’re reading right now.
Change doesn’t necessarily trumpet its arrival, it hints at it. Knowing where to find those hints and what to do about them is what my colleagues and I have been doing for a combined total of over 120 years. Families and employers share a common interest in higher education. Employers know what they want from it and buy it from graduates who can provide it. That’s how the free market works.
At the moment, it’s a buyer’s labour market. I conceived PDD to work with parents and their children to help them understand what’s happening in the economy before they spend their post-secondary dollars on it, not after. We show them how to create two business cases to prove that they understand it—just in case.
The thinking behind the process known as Personal Due Diligence (PDD) dates back to 1976, a year before my daughter was born. In 1992, I compiled the results of 16 years of reading about technology, the labour market and the global economy. Two years before my daughter graduated from high school, we had our first conversation about university. The printed compilation was on the table and it formed part of our deliberations. We repeated the process with my son three years later.
We talked, we deliberated and we debated. My children arrived at their own informed conclusions. Both attended university, both graduated and both are thriving.
PDD does with its clients what I did with my children for up to two years. We space our sessions far enough apart to avoid interfering with their classwork. We’re pragmatists. We focus is return on investment and risk assessment. We assume that pre-existing assumptions might not hold and that new variables and game-changers will find their way into the mix. At the end of the process, they will have gained insights into what we mean by anticipation and what we do about it.
The global economy and the emergence of new industries and new occupations are three critical game-changers. So are articles in the media like ‘Surge in temp agencies worries advocates’ (Toronto Star, July 15, 2017). Sara Mojtehedzadeh wrote: “Ontario has seen a steady growth in the number of temporary employment agencies starting up at a time when the province is seeking to enact new protections for its most vulnerable workers.” Our children qualify as vulnerable workers. So do many parents.
In 2012, as many as 300,000 undergraduates and post-graduates found themselves working as unpaid interns because their chosen fields and the demands of the labour market were out of alignment. The lesson cost $9.6 billion. Unpaid internships and interrupted dreams are still with us.
To read what being heavily invested in university looks like to parents and their children, please visit Google Alerts and use “student debt” as your filter (be sure to omit the quotation marks) for daily reports on the subject and their consequences. You can expect to see the figure $1.3 trillion in connection with the U.S. more than once. The same applies to the 44 million Americans who owe it. Americans are not alone. Canadians owe between $25 billion and $50 billion.
PDD has done part of your research for you. You can find it by clicking on the ‘88 Must-read Articles… and counting’ and ‘Blog’ tabs at the top of this screen.
We can start talking about brass rings with a phone call, an e-mail or a click on ‘CONTACT US’ in the upper right corner of this page. There will be no charge for that first conversation.
President & Founder
PERSONAL DUE DILIGENCE