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Leah Nord

Director of Workforce Strategies & Inclusive Growth, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

What we learn, how we learn, and how it’s recognized are key to the future.

There’s a culture shift that is slowly but surely and necessarily taking hold across the country. It’s the acknowledgment of the importance of lifelong learning. In this age of the internet of things, economy 4.0, automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence, employees need to keep abreast of advancing economic and technological trends. There’s a need to constantly upskill — and in many cases re-skill. And it isn’t only our hard/technical skills we need to keep up-to-date. Employers are increasingly focusing on “durable skills”. These include communication, problem-solving, leadership, and entrepreneurship, and are known to be rare assets that all Canadian job creators are looking for.

How we’re learning is also changing. While traditional degrees and certificates still have value, there’s an increasing focus on online/blended learning, micro-credentialling, badges, and stackable credits. There’s also increasing recognition of the multitude of more organic ways in which people learn and gain experience: on-the-job training, volunteer work, self-learning, raising kids, taking care of aging parents, travelling, overcoming personal adversities, and living life in general.

Critical for Canadians in their life-long learning journeys is recognizing both traditional and non-traditional education and training, and being able to acknowledge — and measure — the skills individuals acquire over time. We need to move from reliance on academic credentialling to competency-based assessment. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has called on the federal government, alongside its provincial counterparts and stakeholders in education and business, to support initiatives that seek to define the key skills and competencies of both today and tomorrow, accompanied by the development of appropriate evaluation tools.

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