Trudeau, The World Economic Forum, & Athabasca University

Athabasca University (AU) is in line with the future of education and the future economy. The future of education?credentials, knowledge, and skills. The future of the economy?human capital with creativity, education, and experience. Human capital investments are an issue for students coming out of university, and employers looking for suitable candidates or employees. A salient set of facts for fellow students on track to complete their education at AU when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau represented Canada at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland from January 20th to 23rd to talk about the future economy.

Trudeau’s attendance at international events gives the basis to plan and negotiate with other world leaders for the future economy, and to present the strengths of the Canadian economy. But if the future economy is based on education, then the future of education will be the future economy by implication. In turn, plans made on a global platform with other nations influence the trajectory of Canada ? provinces and territories, and their respective universities such as AU.

The WEF gave the opportunity to express the strengths of the Canadian economy. Trudeau spoke on the shift from weight given to Canadian resources and transitioning more into Canadian human capital, “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

The WEF meeting was, in part, based on the new and ongoing industrial revolution, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It builds on the previous industrial revolutions that used steam-, electric-, and information-based technologies. It will increasingly incorporate cyber-physical systems. Trudeau’s statement described the shift in the Canadian economic landscape from natural resources, “Canada for its resources,” to human capital, “Canada for our resourcefulness.”

Canada remains the most educated, or credentialed, rather, population in the world (Grossman, 2012), and AU is the largest online provider of education in Canada. In other words, AU is the largest online human capital investment in the country.

Insofar as Canadian resources are concerned, the drop in oil prices has hurt the resource-based sector of the economy of Alberta, but not necessarily the human capital sector. Students, in general, express concerns about acquisition of work upon graduation from university. Employers express concerns over potential workers with relevant qualifications coming out of university.

AU could, and should, play an even greater role in this transition towards a more balanced mixed economy: ?resources? and ?resourcefulness.? That is, AU should perform an important intermediary role in the future of education and, by implication, the future of the economy in filling the jobs (worker concerns) and skills (employer concerns) gaps with the rapid development of this knowledge economy. Human capital will increasingly become our greatest strength in the province and the country, and the international marketplace. AU resides at this juncture, and Prime Minister Trudeau statements on the global stage align with AUs purposes in education and education’s connection to the economy.

References
Grossman, S. (2012, September 27). And the World’s Most Education Country Is?.
Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/27/and-the-worlds-most-educated-country-is/.

A native British Columbian, Scott Douglas Jacobsen is an AU undergrad. He researches in the Learning Analytics Research Group, Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab, and IMAGe Psychology Lab, and with the UCI Ethics Center.

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