Report on the Calgary Business Education Task Force

Report on the Calgary Business Education Task Force August 2014 Co-Chaired by: Mike Suzuki, Vice-President and Head of Divisional Operations, Alberta...
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Report on the Calgary Business Education Task Force August 2014

Co-Chaired by: Mike Suzuki, Vice-President and Head of Divisional Operations, Alberta/NWT Division, BMO Bank of Montreal and Akela Peoples, President and CEO, The Learning Partnership

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BUSINESS-EDUCATION TASK FORCE Calgary, May 28, 2014 Background This is the second in a series of Business Education Task Forces which are planned for every province in Canada beginning in September 2013 in Toronto. The report of the Toronto session is available electronically at the following link. Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are scheduled for the 2014-15 school year. The goal of the Task Force is to:  provide a forum to foster local relationships between business and education  provide insights and recommendations to TLP that will encourage and support business and education to work together collaboratively to assist students in preparing for their future personal and work related lives  to assist TLP in understanding local needs The Task Force evolved from a Summit on The Future of Education in Canada hosted by The Learning Partnership in the Fall of 2012. In attendance were senior leaders from the business, education and government sectors. One of the significant outcomes of the summit was the willingness of the business community to support student success. The output of the Summit was the report Public Education 2.0. While summit participants agreed that Canada is a world-leader in education, the Canadian economy and workforce are changing rapidly and education policies and practices must respond to these changes in a timely way. There was strong support for fostering a stronger partnership among education and business leaders in order to ensure student needs are being met. Business leaders are most familiar with the skills and competencies students need to have upon graduation, and educators know how to impart that knowledge. Yet, to date no one has outlined a set of priorities for how business and education can best work together. In an era of regional skills shortages, as well as, demographic and fiscal pressures, the participants at the summit concluded that Canada needs to do more to bring these two solitudes together. There were five overall recommendations resulting from the Calgary Task Force meeting. 1. Establish a process and protocol to be used by schools, business, and trades that will support the development of positive working relationships. 2. Increase emphasis on skilled trade’s experiential opportunities and THE LEARNING PARTNERSHIP

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understanding of the requirement and opportunities of the job market in this area. 3. Increase student access to job opportunities using a variety of methods including career education planning, connecting students to business and trades through partnerships, building learning networks among stakeholders, and increased professional development and access to career information for educators. 4. Develop a shared understanding between education and the workplace of the skills needed for student success, including the use of technology and incorporate these skills into curriculum and assessment. 5. Continue to involve students in discussions and decisions that impact on their future. Business Education Task Force Session – Calgary, Alberta On Wednesday, May 28, 2014 a cross section of stakeholders from government, education and business met at the BMO Centre in Calgary to address how business and education can work together in Alberta to support students in their transition from education to the workplace. This was the second of a series of Task Force meetings which are being held across Canada by the Learning Partnership (TLP). The meeting was co-chaired by Mike Suzuki, Vice President Alberta/NWT Division, BMO Bank of Montreal and Akela Peoples, President and CEO, The Learning Partnership. Activities and deliberations at the full-day facilitated session included the following:        

Welcoming remarks from Mike Suzuki and Akela Peoples. Background information on TLP and a system level situation overview presented by Akela Peoples. A panel discussion on opportunities and challenges in establishing businesseducation partnerships. A rotating flip chart activity to identify social, technological, economic and political factors affecting the school/work transition. A visioning exercise to describe a preferred future for youth employment in Alberta Table discussions and breakout group work to identify collaborative actions to move students successfully from education to employment by 2017. Group presentations with plenary discussion and feedback. Four groups, each with a cross section of students, educators, business representatives and government officials presented a total of 20 recommendations. Closing remarks to communicate next steps and collect participant feedback.


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Additional Business-Education Task forces are planned for other provinces. They will inform the production of a paper that will offer actionable recommendations at the provincial and federal level as well as business and education leaders. The report will be structured chronologically in the following order:      

Panel Discussion Summary STEP Analysis Vision Elements Recommendations for Collaborative Action Session Attendees Participant Feedback

PANEL DISCUSSION SUMMARY Key points raised by panelists in response to questions posed Panelists:

David Allwright, Dean, Chiu School of Business Cathy Farber, Superintendent and CIO, Calgary Board of Education Sandra Sutter, President, Centre for Aboriginal Relations Alexandra Wadey, Student, Calgary Board of Education Michael Walter, Assistant Deputy Minister, Alberta Education Corrine Warwaruk, Director, Talent, Deloitte LLP

Moderator: Akela Peoples, President and CEO, The Learning Partnership Points Raised by Panelists        

There is a need to teach more soft skills. Experiences outside of classroom are critical – and partnerships with business and industry can provide these. We have to get out of the silo and engage stakeholders in public education. It is important to start building bridges with business/education that are not focused on selling an agenda. We should get rid of the timetable re: requirements of high school completion and work with partners – business and trades – to make curriculum more flexible. The “Inspiring Education” initiative learned from the student voice that what they wanted and what we thought they wanted were not the same. Government now has a greater role in helping youth move from school to the workforce. Industry needs to create more dual credit opportunities.


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There are some trust, cultural and communication obstacles to business-education partnerships. Parent engagement is important. Student engagement is critical. Aboriginal issues in education, and lack of cultural awareness, need to be addressed. Traits of the ideal employee include: multilingual; ability to deal with ambiguity; collaborative; technology based; able to work internationally; team player; able to deal with complex challenges; multidisciplinary; and a lifelong learner. Friends, older siblings, school staff, family and the Internet are important student information sources for making career decisions. Students need to be able to access/talk to more professional and people in business community re: information as the world of work is changing so rapidly. Co-Chair Mike Suzuki, Vice-President More after school programming and role models are and Head of Divisional Operations, Alberta/NWT Division, BMO Bank of needed to create cultural safety within our Montreal educational system. Students need to develop national and global focus and respect. “STEP” ANALYSIS Rotating flip chart activity

Social Factors  Importance of skills, regardless of career path  Freely available information, with challenges in validating and acting on it  Public does not seem ready to embrace business as part of public education  Importance of communication and relationships  Major role and impact of social media  Need for education to promote good citizenship  Need to educate the whole person  Requirement for different ways of teaching different students  High percentage of exceptional learners Technological Factors  Need for national technology infrastructure standards  Equity and access issues  Technology moving from a mechanical to a human process


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Global operational practices Increased bandwidth Teacher education and development requirements Budget challenges in schools keeping up with technology – sustainability issue Need to use technology in a way that is relevant to the business world

Economic Factors  Slow recovery from recession  Impact of budget cuts  Underutilized work force  Need to invest in Aboriginal workforce  Struggles with business productivity/profitability with global shifts and other models of production  Education system is a business model while teaching is an educational model  Labour Market Index (LMI) statistics need to be captured in meaningful way  Questions about spending priorities in education, e.g. post-secondary  Need to teach students to be economically competent, financially literate Political Factors  No national education model  Controversy around Bill C33  Funding issues and priorities  Inspiring Education initiative  Release of Alberta Task Force for Teaching Excellence report  Media perceptions vs. actual facts  Sometimes stuck on political ideologies  Importance and value of student voice

Student Representatives with Teacher

VISION ELEMENTS: Youth Employment in 2017 Based on a visioning exercise where participants wrote desirable headlines to appear in news media in May 2017 High Employment Levels    

Calgary Youth Unemployment Centre Closes Alberta Youth Employment at All-time Low Canadian First: 100% of Alberta High School Grades Have Employment! Unemployment Rate Drops to Unprecedented Low – 1%


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Strong Student Performance        

Alberta Students Sought After, the World Over New Workforce is More Financially Literate Alberta Students Ranked #1 in Adaptability by Business Students Develop Potential Flood Water Absorption System 100% of Parents Believe Graduates Have Necessary Skills Grade 5 Students Present Recommendations for Responsible Water Management 250 Trades Journeymen Graduate with Teaching Degrees Companies Think Alberta Students Best Prepared in the Nation

Effective Partnerships         

Business Education Partnerships Thrive in Alberta and Students are Benefitting Local Businesses Open Doors to Young Learners for Experiential Training Programs Business Post Secondary Collaboration for Business Access Programs Go Live Education System Integrates Workforce Mentors CBE Allows Students to Interact with Workforce Entrepreneurs 100 New Business Partnerships Established with Calgary Schools Students Thriving Due to Workplace-Student Collaboration Skill Gap Closed Due to Successful Business Education Partnership Industry Now Fully Involved with our Education Systems

Innovative Education         

Alberta Leading the Way with Innovative Education System Students Help Lead Curriculum Redesign Alberta Back on Top of International Assessment CBE Partners with Treaty 6, 7 and 8 to Deliver On-Reserve Apprenticeship Training Public School System Integrates Communication and Team Building Classes Education System Creates More Focus on Interests Rather Than Occupation Alberta Students Have Complete Flexibility in How They Learn Grade 12 Dropout Rate Hits Lowest Mark in History Student Engagement Reaches 100% According to Student Perception Data RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COLLABORATIVE ACTION

Report from Group One 1. Establish a process for partnerships between schools, trades and businesses  Ensure process can be easily followed and contextualized to any community THE LEARNING PARTNERSHIP

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Include co-op programs and expanded dual credit programs Allow for active participation from students

2. Increase emphasis on skilled trade professionals in schools  Allow skilled professionals to get teaching degrees while working within the schools  Allow existing trades to get journeymen status  Provide greater access and exposure to skilled trades professionals  Simplify academic pathways for students 3. Address the development of soft skills  Redesign curriculum to include soft skills and adaptability  Focus on emotional intelligence and social development  Ensure education leadership understands and operates within a strengths focus  Include entrepreneurship, responsibility/living skills and ethics 4. Ensure students have career planning ability  Ensure effective knowledge based career planning  Provide adequate training for career counselling that keeps up with current and future pathways available  Promote interaction between skill trades people and career counselling 5. Rebrand skills trades professions  Develop and launch a comprehensive communication plan that adequately covers all stakeholders Report from Group Two 1. Engage local Chambers of Commerce and industry associations  Facilitate interaction between industry and classroom  Link teachers needs with the community 2. Establish company mentorship programs that support youth learning  Task education to create curriculum and standards  Task industry to provide resources and expertise 3. Integrate industry early and often in the student life cycle  Create opportunities to reach into the community and contribute as a standard part of the curriculum (service learning)  Include partnering with international organizations that are local 4. Build learning networks between all stakeholders  Use networks a vehicle to gain opinions and perspectives


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5. Create learning that is visible  Invite participation from students to apply learning to community/business issues

Report from Group Three 1. Change what we measure  Have business clarify the “what” they are looking for and make that something students can see as targets  Create pathways and make them visible, emphasizing that university is not the only pathway  Measure competencies rather than hard skills to determine school/system success  Break away from testing for knowledge

Task Force Members presenting recommendations

2. Re-focus business recruitment strategies  Review assessment tools and create better tools for measuring fit  Become involved in schools early and support students in finding pathways  Create a community development plan for business to follow in getting involved in education 3. Increase authenticity of learning  Ensure curriculum re-design reflects skill sets required by work world – i.e. competencies and soft skills  Ensure all pathways are valued – academic, trades, co-op, college, university  Create business/school partnerships to ensure possibilities for immersion in experiences  Review and revise teacher training programs 4. Promote systemic and cultural shifts  Change school funding model to allow for flexibility such as grants for partnerships  Change business performance reviews to include giving back to youth  Increase flexibility of scheduling to allow anywhere, any time learning 5. Exploit technology  Connect students to businesses using the many virtual possibilities to minimize transportation issues  Create communities of learning and opportunities for voice through webinars and blogs Report from Group Four THE LEARNING PARTNERSHIP

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1. Assist students with informed choices  Connect students to the information (job roles and skills needed) to choose career pathways  Provide training for teachers, counsellors and school system  TLP to facilitate/broker between industry and education for opportunities for students to have authentic learning experiences 2. Build awareness, understanding and commitment  Expand opportunities for work experience in the Registered Apprentice Program  Incorporate the dual credit strategy  Encourage industry investment up-front to reduce training and turnover costs 3. Build a career foundation within the curriculum  Integrate work experience, career information and soft skills in the curriculum 4. Include transferable skills  Increase soft skills such as emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration and resiliency  Build from fundamentals to focus on specific skills  Ensure purposeful development, recognizing that hard skills will be taught by industry 5. Promote the trades  Message that university, trades, apprenticeship are all good choices  Launch advertising geared to youth promoting the trades


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APPENDIX A: SESSION PARTICIPANTS Government and Education Michael Walter, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Services Division, Alberta Education Gene Williams, Assistant Deputy Minister People and Research Division, Alberta Education David Stephenson, Chief Superintendent Calgary Board of Education Cathy Farber, Superintendent and Chief Information Officer, Calgary Board of Education Kathy Muhlethaler, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Edmonton Public Schools Andra McGinn, Superintendent of Instructional Services, Calgary Catholic School District Daniel Danis, Director, Instructional Services, Secondary Calgary Catholic School District Doug Aitkenhead, Director Teacher Relations Branch, Alberta Education David Fraser, Executive Director, Corporate Services Edmonton Public Schools David Allwright, Dean Chiu, School of Business Cynthia Glaicar, Principal, Westmount School Deborah Bradbury, Learning Leader, Calgary Board of Education Business and Industry Mike Suzuki, Vice-President and Head of Divisional Operations, Alberta/NWT Division, BMO Bank of Montreal (Session Co-Chair) Carol Glasgow, Director of Professional Development, PCL Corrine Warwaruk, Director, Talent, Deloitte LLP Steve Ollinger, General Manager, Training Services, Finning Canada Dawn Newton, Senior Manager, Community Investment, Telus Denise Bodnaryk, Director, People Services, Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Pravesh Bhagwandass, HR Manager, AB North & SK/MB Stantec Non-Profit Jack Toth, Chief Executive Officer, Impact Society Sandra Sutter, President, Centre for Aboriginal Relations Brenda Gladstone, Chief Operating Officer, Galileo Educational Network George Calliou, Executive Director, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary Raymond Massey, Board Chair, Apprenticeship and Industry Training


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Students Alexandra Wadey, Student, Calgary Board of Education Sumaira Islam, Student, Calgary Board of Education George Wang, Student, Calgary Board of Education Tracy Gosling, Student, Calgary Board of Education Travis Neumann, Student, Calgary Board of Education Canada’s Outstanding Principal Award Recipient Kathleen Kostuik, Principal, Calgary Catholic School District The Learning Partnership Akela Peoples, President & CEO, The Learning Partnership (Session Co-Chair) Gerry Connelly, Director, Policy & Knowledge Mobilization, The Learning Partnership Kim Miller, National Director of Programs, The Learning Partnership Greg Olson, Regional Relationship Manager, Alberta, The Learning Partnership David Sheridan, Shercon Associates Inc. (Session Facilitator)


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APPENDIX B: PARTICIPANT FEEDBACK Anonymous questionnaires completed at end of session How informative was the panel in creating awareness of the issues and opportunities in responding to the school to work transition? Not informative 0

2 1

3 8

Very informative 11

Overall, do you feel the Business-Education Task Force session addressed the collaborative actions that Business and Education can initiate to support students’ transition from school to work? No 0

2 1

3 13

Yes 6

What are the three insights that you gained from this session?               

That business and educators seem to be hesitant to collaborate due to lack of trust Youth are having trouble accessing the workforce but part of that seems to be educators giving them the message that school is the only important priority State of the nation Complexity of problems The possibility of taking learning outside of the classroom and building skills used in the workforce Youth are being underemployed and then unemployed – there needs to be trust and collaboration between business and education There needs to be a rebranding of the Trades Desire of education and industry to cooperate and also good to hear government support and desire for change Industry invests heavily in training and has greater connections with post-secondary than K-12 A need for change in curriculum to support soft skills and create opportunities for business to mentor and provide practical learning experiences Enthusiasm of youth representatives Commitment from Education and Business Need for more/better communication of initiatives There is a strong need for a process to help schools and businesses connect Inspiring Education is bang on!


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Importance of soft skills Businesses are interested The gap between students and the workforce is trying to be closed Students are needed in our economy Canadian youth are falling behind on the global stage – need to build their toolkit to be more successful We need to do more! TLP exists – with good leadership Willingness for innovation Expressed commitment by Government of Alberta Assessment needs to change Curriculum needs to be redeveloped Collaboration with business is a necessity That students can start to engage at a young age Folks are supportive of FNMI but not very informed Excellent work being done by TLP Huge momentum to move forward with partnerships This is imperative work TLP is an important stepping stone Opportunity to gain greater awareness of public education goals in Ontario Business challenges in integrating students

What do you think worked well, or was a highlight of the session?               

Having youth present was vital Business participation Group interaction highlighting and discussing collaborative actions Was useful to have overview of Learning Partnership and initial context for conversation set Enjoyed the 2017 headlines activity Highlight was insights provided by students Enjoyed panel discussion Really enjoyed the groups action planning at the end STEP conversation I think the idea of the panel worked well The opening statistics were an eye opener and did a great job of highlighting the need for discussion Creating action items Process was effective Interacting with different groups of people Table talk


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Diversity of the group at the table – students, teachers, business, government officials The facilitation model was strong Good to begin with the overview from Akela Loved the panel and having a diverse demographic and professional range participating The mix of folks was really good Jigsaw groupings for discussion Diversity of stakeholders involved Pre-reading materials were valuable and informative

What suggestions do you have for future sessions in other provinces?     

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Ideas on how businesses can engage in solutions More time to discuss I felt that it was a good discussion starter. Challenge is always to take it to the next step. All the best with that! During table discussions, suggest having Learning Partnership staff taking notes to capture conversation as not all gets reported back The students were exceptional; do they represent who we are most worried about? Perhaps having a more reflective diverse cross-section of students – e.g. HS drop out, one planning to study a trade, student attending an alternate program. Would get a much different perspective. I have developed a deep respect for TLP – would love to see a greater involvement with Youth at Risk Maybe having more than one student at each table. Try to have different types of students, not just high achievers This session had good representation from academic educators – should more technical/trades/vocational or “alternative” educators also participate? Collaborate through Google Docs We need more students, teachers and government (Alberta Education) at the table. Also parents. Continue to acknowledge First Peoples of the land Perhaps do not narrow things down to specific questions – could be inhibiting ideas More time for table talk When action plans are being formulated, maybe ask for less quantity and more quality. I found the amount of detail took away from the depth of the plans. Great conversations, just not quite enough time I thought there were more collaborative efforts between business and education but it was fairly clear there were strong opinions in each camp. There may be an opportunity in future sessions to set a change management framework, let’s look at what could be vs. focusing on barriers


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Continue to use a collaborative, diverse stakeholder group Explore and discuss impact of dual credit now possible in Alberta Important to consider blurring the lines/transitions between education and employment Would like to see a collaboration effort after the session Would be good to define what outcomes are desired through the forum Get students involved who are not already highly successful. Although the voice of high achieving students has impact, the voice of at risk youth brings an entirely different perspective about how education does/does not work and the connections they need to head out into the world of work


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About The Learning Partnership Celebrating 20 years of service in supporting excellence in public education, The Learning Partnership is a national charity dedicated to building stakeholder partnerships to support, promote and advance publicly funded education in Canada. We do this through five key deliverables - innovative student programs, executive leadership for educators, knowledge mobilization and policy, tribute celebrations of excellence and ongoing collaborations across Canada. Since 1993, more than 5.3 million students have participated in The Learning Partnership's programs. For more information on The Learning Partnership, visit


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The Learning Partnership Head Office: Toronto 45 Sheppard Ave. East, Suite 400 Toronto, ON,  M2N 5W9 Tel.: 416 440 5100  1 800 790 9113 Fax: 416 482 5311 Email: [email protected] Website:

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