It’s all about people — how we educate them, value them and motivate them to learn, re-tool and learn again. The second session at the Chapter Two Summit was entitled: In Training for Prosperity: Education and the Real Value of BC’s Human Capital. Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of Vancity Credit Union was a superb moderator — smoothly linking the presentations and asking questions that drew out the essence of the issues and a focus on what can be done. The panelists were Clyde Hertzman, Director of the Human Early Learning Program at UBC, Judith Sayers, Strategic Advisor for the Hupacasath First Nation and Anibal Valente, Vice-President, PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.
Clyde gave us a passionate and fluent summary of ‘15 by 15‘ — a comprehensive policy framework for Early Human Capital Investment in BC. 15 by 15 refers to the BC government Strategic Plan commitment to lowering the provincial rate of early vulnerability to 15% by 2015. Clyde presented six recommendations from his report (http://www.bcbc.com/Documents/2020_200909_Hertzman.pdf) but perhaps most useful was when Jock Finlayson asked from the floor — what are the top 3 to-do’s to get results in improving our early childhood education and development — which is an important investment to help us tackle the demographic challenges that Baxter talked about in terms of a skilled workforce.
1. Support the government’s plan to institute full-day kindergarten as part of the strategy to provide “seamless transition for families as the parental leave period ends in order to make quality services for children age 19 month to kindergarten affordable and available…”
2. Expand maternity and parental leave — we need to “support parents to synchronize caring and earning” — we need a good balance of time and resources for in-family care and resources for strengthening the community service component.
3. Keep following the development trajectory — make sure we monitor regularly so developmental challenges are caught early when they can be corrected relatively easily.
Next, Judith clearly outlined the challenges facing First Nations people and encouraged the business community to look to First Nations as an incredible pool of talent and human capital at a time when we see the general population aging and retiring.
Dan Perrin’s paper on First Nations and Economic Prosperity in the Coming Decade (http://www.bcbc.com/Documents/2020_200909_Perrin.pdf) contains two important messages:
1. Aboriginal education achievement has to be a high priority in terms of maintaining some of our gains from the last few years and ramping up to achieve more gains, more quickly.
2. Economic Success for First Nations “…has highlighted the importance of improved governance, self-determination and leadership for the economic and social development of Aboriginal communities.” Information/assistance needs to get into the hands of First Nations as they get into business — various institutions and programs can help.
I have always imagined a wonderful scenario where the grade 9 aboriginal boy is bored silly by school, wants to quit and needs to have a sense of finding his way in the world. Miraculously we have developed a program that will allow him to leave “traditional” schooling and move into the workplace where he learns on the job, is motivated by seeing what he can produce and at the end of the day gets credit for this work/learning in a diploma form and becomes a hugely productive and happy member of our workforce. There has got to be a way to do this. We are losing too much human capital because our system isn’t flexible enough to allow different kinds of learning.
And finally, Anibal from PCL outlined some of the programs that PCL has in place to respond to work force and skills training. For example, this company has been proactive by creating the “PCL College of Construction”. They have field personnel advisors who promote construction careers in high schools. And they have made good use of the Provincial Nominee Program which assisted in bringing 86 skilled worked from other countries into our BC workforce.
When asked about what the Business Council way forward might be, there was the following advice:
1. Don’t wait for government or the competition to do it for you!
2. Develop a Strategic Human Capital Plan — that coordinates levels of government and industry and educational institutions.
3. Think about human development across the life course — from our first learnings as baby to our life long learning through to our senior years.
Whew — this post is too long. Will make the one on Innovation shorter!