Business cases, choices and C$40,000 bachelor’s degrees


In 2012 we learned that, because they couldn’t find work in their chosen fields, 300,000 graduates earned a combined total of C$0.00 for the work they did as unpaid interns after investing time and C$12 billion to earn university degrees. What did wasting their young minds cost us? No one knows. What we do know is that it was a catastrophe that has yet to be resolved.

Universities weren’t to blame. Not telling those graduates (a.k.a. our children) enough about the country in which they were growing up and the directions in which it was evolving early enough was. It still is. You’ll find four major contributing factors in ‘Why We Do What We Do’ below.

I conceived Personal Due Diligence (PDD) to teach the families of soon-to-be university students how to learn what the second largest country in the world is about, about its promise and how to build the foundation for a life when work and business as usual becomes work and business that’s anything but usual. We can do for those families one-on-one what the “system” has not done and may never do. We future graduates to see something more in their future than permanent part-time work at minimum wage. We’re one of the most highly regarded developed nations in the world. We can do better, starting today, one family like yours at a time. We must.

Why We Do What We Do

What used to be the stuff of science fiction is now fact, and this is what it looks like:

  • In The Intelligence Revolution: Future Proofing Canada’s Workforce, Deloitte and the Human Resources Professionals Association describe the world we’re sending our children into as being in the midst of the (Artificial) Intelligence Revolution and the gig economy. Both are disrupting the traditional one job/one employee/one employer model. Over 6 million Canadians are working at precarious jobs.
  • Microsoft, Amazon and Google are spending in excess of US$12 billion each on research and development. Part of those budgets is devoted to A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). The results have already found their way into facial recognition in Apple’s iPhone X, virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana, and self-driving vehicles like the new electric Tesla Semi Elon Musk unveiled on Nov. 17th. Orders are already on the books for those 18-wheelers. Production starts in 2019.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said recently, “Technological displacement is a real issue. There will be new kinds of jobs. We’ll need education and re-skilling … continuous learning. Without the technological breakthroughs, we’re not going to have enough growth, and that’s not going to be good for anybody. So let’s … solve for the displacement … so that people feel they’re able to participate and contribute.
  • A New York Times article entitled Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent appeared in the Toronto Star (Nov. 11, 2017). It said, “Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.’s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock.”

PDD helps families research and vet alternatives to their traditional choices of higher education, just in case. Our clients generate one business case for each option to prove or disprove that work they consider suitable will be available following graduation. As of this moment, graduates can choose positions that are: (1) permanent, full-time, 40-hour with benefits and pension; or (2) precarious, part-time, outsourced, automated and contract. Self-employment falls into category 2.

I saw signs of the transformation the day I joined IBM. It didn’t stop in the 25 years in which I operated my IT executive search business and it goes on to this day, only faster. Something that didn’t change over the course of 25 annual interview skills workshops for co-op and graduating students in which I participated at a university in the Greater Toronto Area was the lack of evidence that those students understood what drove managers and why employers had so little time for what they considered to be “personal interest” degrees. It still hasn’t. In 15 years as a transition counselling consultant, I conducted job search workshops and led group sessions for mangers in how to carry out 5-minute severance notification meetings. I was part of over 2100 of those meetings and was privy to why every one of them was taking place. Half of the employees I met claimed that they “never saw it coming.”

Our Programmes

PDD 1: Pre-University

This fixed-length programme begins no later than two years before high school graduation and is built around 4 questions:

  • What kind of work does your child want to do?
  • What education does it call for, how much will it cost, who will be paying for it and how?
  • What market intelligence have you included in your business case that proves that the work will exist and that your child will know how to find and qualify for it?
  • If your Plan A proves not to be viable, what’s your Plan B?

Parents and their future university graduates participate together for an hour once a month for 24 months. They’ll receive instruction in how to test-drive and stress-test their original assumptions using the most current market intelligence available. We’ll projects research projects at each session and evaluate the results at each session. They will complete one business case for each of two sets of objectives. Final decisions about what their children will study, where and why will be up to them.

PDD 2: Adult

This variable length, transition counselling and job search programme is for clients with a minimum of 2 years of working experience. We’ll address but not be limited to:

  • Their employment objectives
  • Work history
  • Job search
  • Research
    • Résumé preparation
    • Interview skills
    • Networking
    • Social media and internet resources

To learn about the PDD process, the people of PDD, must-read articles and posts, please click on the tabs at the top of your screen. You’ll find insights into the relationship between work and higher education.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably contemplating decisions that will impact on people you care about. Those people and the decisions you’ll be making deserve due diligence. Please call or e-mail me to schedule your no-charge, exploratory telephone call.



F. Neil Morris

+1 905 273 9880

skype: fnmorris