On November 16, 2013, The Toronto Star published a letter from Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Province of Ontario. The headline in the print edition read: Navigating the realities of today’s work force. The headline in the digital edition read Time to bust myths about youth unemployment.
We’re not navigating the realities of today’s work force: we’re navigating the realities of today’s economy. As for realities, there’s only one: if no one wants or needs what you have to sell, you starve.
What follows is my letter to the Editor in response to Premier Wynne’s.
This excerpt comes from a document I prepared in 1992. At the time, I was in discussions with the Ontario Ministry of Education in Bob Rae’s government.
A Partnership of Necessity
From A Guide to Education (THE GLOBE AND MAIL, August 6, 1992):
- … a prevailing mood of anxiety among parents, taxpayers and, in some cases, schools themselves about the future of education in Canada.
- … a growing parental interest in tutorial and other private services, at a time when education increasingly is viewed as Canada’s ticket to economic success.
- … Margaret Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Teacher’s Federation, sums up parental nervousness this way: ‘If I don’t create an edge for my kid, my kid isn’t going to get a job.’
- … workers are going to have to prepare themselves to be flexible enough for a multitude of tasks, which makes career counselling a tricky venture these days.
- Other educators, however, are more wary about the prospect of a school where so much technology is used to deliver so much information so fast …
- We may be giving teachers more sophisticated methods for delivering education, but perhaps the kids really need more sophisticated methods for interpreting the world.
The responsibility for dealing with these issues shouldn’t be confined to education only. Business, traditionally more enthusiastic in its criticism of education than in its support of it—but clearly in line to profit from an uplift in the quality of what comes out of the classroom—has begun to show signs of wanting to do more than merely offer opinions. (See: FORTUNE Special Report: Children in Crisis—The Struggle to Save America’s Kids, August 10, 1992; “Globe finds sponsors—Apple Canada Inc., CIBC, General Motors of Canada Ltd., Midland Walwyn Inc., Xerox Canada Ltd.—for classroom edition: Monthly tabloid designed as teaching tool for high schools and colleges”: THE GLOBE AND MAIL September 1, 1992).
But for all practical purposes, its contribution has been piecemeal, disjointed and on a scale far too small to achieve meaningful results fast enough to be of any practical value.
This document proposes a powerful, all encompassing, broadly based and fully integrated solution beyond anything currently in existence to the problem of positioning students, business and education along the same continuum. One which will give Canada an accessible, easy-to-use, popular and affordable, strategic leg up on the people who are and will be our competitors through the end of this decade and into the twenty-first century.
The difference between a weather forecast and an economic forecast is that weather disturbances can last for several hours; several days at the most. Economic disturbances can last for years, if not decades. We’re still recovering from the bank meltdown of 2008. Premier Wynne’s Youth Jobs Strategy, Youth Skills Connection Programme, Youth Innovation Fund and Youth Entrepreneurship Fund are all at the mercy of the economy—and politics.
You’d think that governments would want to equip students to be able to read the economic tea leaves and plan accordingly. But there’s nothing in Kathleen Wynne’s letter to suggest that the idea has even occurred to her. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t.