The success of Apple and Google in attracting a market cap of $509 billion and $356 billion respectively – captured the attention of several business thinkers at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. These individuals felt that the rapid proliferation of “disruptive technologies” made it virtually impossible to predict the future course of global commerce as these technologies posed a challenge to the sustainability of several traditional business models.
However, instead of viewing these technologies as being disruptive, one needs to view them as being transformative because in an interconnected knowledge-based global economy, future growth would only take place in areas where the highest innovation and technological advances are taking place. This naturally means places where workers have the greatest skills and not places having the lowest cost labour.
The transformative power of the knowledge economy would enable all businesses across all industries and sectors to reap the benefits of technological advances, productivity gains, economic growth and gain access to a highly skilled workforce. To capitalise on this, Canada would need to initiate the process of developing its emerging knowledge economy.
In the knowledge economy, Canada has immense potential. Its Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sectors are worth $155 billion in annual revenues and accounts for 35 percent of the spending on research and development spending, according to data published by Industry Canada in March 2013. In addition, the ICT sector outgrew the overall economy in 2011, increasing by 3.2 percent as opposed to a 2.6 percent increase registered by the total Canadian economy.
However, even as the Canadian industry has produced aggressive drivers of ICT technology, it has always underinvested in the knowledge economy, which hinders the global competitiveness of Canadian businesses.
Therefore, the authorities need to create market conditions that result in innovations and help the knowledge economy flourish. This would only come about through public and private investment, a supportive educational framework, immigration policies and a proactive economic agenda from the government.
Producing graduates with the right skills and expertise would help feed the knowledge and ICT sectors, which would have the greatest potential for growth. While there are no guarantees, graduates with the right skills could have a great chance a career in their chosen fields. By committing itself to developing the knowledge sector, Canada would be able to sustain its standards of living as well as remain a player on the global stage.
Source: The Globe and Mail
A recent study by Garnett Picot and Feng Hou of Statistics Canada reveals that young Canadians, with immigrant backgrounds, are twice as likely to attend university in comparison to students who have both parents born in Canada.
The study revealed that 50 percent of students who immigrated to Canada went to university, as against 31 percent of students who had one parent who is an immigrant, and 25 percent of students who had both parents born in Canada.
According to government policy, public officials need to implement affirmative action programs for visible minorities, immigrants and students who study English as a second language. Ironically, these students fare much better than those with Canadian parents do.
Conventionally, officials have felt that students in North America who study English as a second language face a natural disadvantage as opposed to American children. However, the Picot and Hou Study refutes this theory. They declare that the barrier of language only makes an appearance on standardised literacy tests for students at the age of 15 years. Once these students reach Grade 12, a vast majority of them overcome this challenge – especially Chinese students and Asian females.
Picot and Hou feel that several reasons contribute to the success of students with immigrant backgrounds. Firstly, they feel that Canadian schools do not stream their students into vocational programs in their early teens. This practice gives ESL students in Canada sufficient time to master a new language before they apply for universities.
Secondly, Canadian immigration policies benefit skilled and wealthy immigrants. Consequently, Asian immigrants are more affluent and well educated than even third generation Canadians are.
Lastly, Asian immigrant parents put in additional efforts to ensure that their children succeed in Canadian universities. This gives these students a significant advantage as opposed to students having both parents born in Canada.
Oxford economist Paul Collier believes that high-immigrant Western countries have never addressed the issue of the under-achieving domestically born students. They have neither developed universal programs nor affirmative-action plans. Consequently, the situation remains at an impasse.
Source: The Vancouver Sun