Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This video conferencing facility has another client booked in for the bottom of the hour here at 4:30 p.m. your time. I look forward to the opportunity of having a few moments with all of you, and I thank you for that.
As Canada's leading professional services firm, Deloitte takes great pride and responsibility in contributing our perspectives on the issues that matter to our country and affect the Canadian business community.
We speak regularly with business and government leaders from across the country about their vision for the future of our country. These conversations have convinced us that while Canada has made great strides in achieving a high quality of life over the last 151 years, as we look ahead, Canada should be in a class of its own, not one of the best, but the best place to live and work in the world.
Our recent report “Bold bets for our country” explores the pivotal role that bold choices and actions will play in deciding our future. It is a call to action for leaders across the nation, whether they are in business, government, or academia, to make bold and deliberate choices in three main areas, to put Canada on the path for future success.
First, to dominate the global stage, we need to focus investment and unite as a country behind areas of competitive advantage to create truly global champions.
Second, as our countries turn inward, we need to dramatically accelerate our global engagement and leverage our reputation as a welcoming, open, and inclusive society, to attract the best and brightest people and open new markets for Canadian goods, services, and ideas.
Third and most relevant for our discussion today, given the committee's focus on exploring experiential pathways to learning, Canada has the potential to become a global education powerhouse. To get there, we need to disrupt the education status quo.
To equip our graduates with the skills needed for a business- and technology-driven economy in knowledge areas, both government and business need to make fundamental changes to how we educate, train, and retrain our workforce.
First, we believe we can start by taking concrete steps to eliminate the distinction between pre- and post-career training, and reimagine Canada's education system with a focus on lifelong learning.
As Canada's workforce ages and technology continues to evolve, workers' skills risk becoming fundamentally misaligned with job markets, making the adaptation to new work increasingly important.
Doubling down on investments in the status quo will not, in our view, prepare Canadians for the future of work. We need a fundamentally new approach that embraces new education practices and models focused on critical thinking, practical application of skills, and diversity of learning, as well as direct links to the world outside the classroom.
After years of declining business investment in employee training, many organizations have recognized the importance and imperative of the continuous development of their people. For example, in my own firm, we have invested significantly in lifelong learning with a centre called Deloitte University North. It's a learning and leadership development centre where we offer a curated, experiential learning program that gives our people the opportunity to learn and develop capabilities throughout their career, to the benefit of us all.
Second, to transform Canada into a home for the world's best and most innovative learning organizations, global powerhouses for workforce retraining and reskilling, we need to develop new approaches that provide maximum flexibility in the options available to Canadians when obtaining accreditation.
Governments and businesses need to work together to expand experiential learning models such as apprenticeships for skilled trades, articling for law, and residencies for medicine, and to broaden that to a more comprehensive range of professions.
We must empower a wider range of organizations to provide education and skills training accreditation to meet growing demand, including through online learning platforms and corporate training programs that better reflect the many ways that knowledge, skills, and capabilities are acquired today.
The world's greatest knowledge-based economies are already moving in this direction. I take for example the opportunities that have been created in Singapore through the introduction of their SkillsFuture Credit in 2015, providing all of their citizens over the age of 25 with a credit of 500 Singapore dollars that could be used to access education and training opportunities supplied by a series of approved providers, not just traditional educational institutions but a wide variety of emerging institutions such as Coursera and the Khan Academy.
In 2016, the first year of this program had more than 126,000 people make use of the program to access 18,000 approved course offerings by more than 700 unique training providers. I mention this example not to suggest that we copy exactly what Singapore has done, noting we need to situate next steps for new skills investment for Canadians within our own context.
However, we have an opportunity with the refresh of the youth employment strategy to be creative in looking at ways to have this done, and done as well for us as it has been done in other jurisdictions.
Finally, we need to find ways to leverage technology to forge a new relationship between job seekers, educational organizations, and businesses that streamlines the processes in place to search, apply for, and obtain learning and work.
We've seen a great early success story with this type of technological innovation in a company called Riipen. Riipen is a start-up that was created in 2014 by two graduates from the University of Victoria, which has continued to grow and expand in providing a unique learning opportunity for students while in university and beyond.
This “LinkedIn for students” has been a win-win for students looking for real-world experience, for educators looking to engage with experiential learning and establish industry involvement in their classrooms, and for employers looking to get access to emerging talent with an assurance that the graduates can and will perform.
To date, there have been a total of 24,000 students from 130 academic institutions who have received an experience through Riipen's platform, having been connected with over 2,600 employers.
As you prepare your report for this study, I would encourage you to consider how the Riipen model can be scaled and applied to improve youth employment outcomes on a larger scale and, more importantly, all of the opportunities for us as Canadian employers and Canadian business to take the courage to be first customer for all of the other innovative and creative learning platforms that will continue to be evolving within the Canadian context.
In an increasingly complex and fast-paced world, we must think strategically about the challenges and opportunities we face as a country and the actions we need to take to move us, over the next 25 years, toward our desired future.
New levels of collaboration and decision-making among our governments, business communities, educational institutions, and citizens are critical to unleashing the potential to make Canada a true world leader.
We're confident that in 25 years Canada will be a dynamic, growing country; the best place to live and work in the world; and a land of opportunity, prosperity, and inclusion for all people—if we're willing to take the bold choices now to get us there.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity of presenting to you today.