Entries in Trent University (3)

Wednesday
Apr012015

Learning not just for students at Community Innovation Forum

The 2015 Community Innovation Forum (CIF) was another great success.  The Forum is an annual student showcase of applied learning and community-based research projects hosted by Fleming College, Trent University, Trent Community Research Centre and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.  The students are from Trent University and Fleming College and this year there were 54 projects in total on display. 

I have attended the event for the past two years and this year I was honoured to be asked to be a judge for the Fleming College projects.  Fleming’s Applied Learning Projects were from four programs: International Trade, Marketing, Computer Technology and Wireless Information Technology.   

Clipboard in hand, I and my judging mates (Gary and Rob from Bell) set out to speak with the students about their projects.  We were to look at the project through the lens of innovation.  How did the students use innovation to find a solution for their client?  

It became clear that for each group innovation meant something a bit different.  In many cases it involved digital media, e.g. use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, or a tangible such as a machine, device or a new program.  We also met students who felt innovation was simply a new way of approaching a problem.   

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “innovation” as: 

  1. The introduction of something new
  2. A new idea, method, or device  

I found that I was most interested in hearing how the students created their plan. What did they think about, how well did they know their client, how did they arrive at the solution, and how did they deal with obstacles encountered along the way?  We found some unique thinkers and some not-so unique thinkers.  

“Applied projects help to prepare students to be high performers in their careers and stimulate their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Raymond Yip Choy, Fleming faculty coordinator of the International Business Management and Project Management Programs. “Their participation in the CIF event helps them showcase their accomplishments, gain confidence and build their network.”

I hope that whether students walked away with prizes or not, they learned something about themselves, that they learned how they worked in a group setting; whether or not they have the entrepreneurial spirit.  

The Community Innovation Forum is not just a presentation of school projects.  It’s an opportunity for students to connect with employers and employers to connect with students.  This opportunity is evident between students and the clients for which the projects are completed and those who come to view and judge the projects.  

It’s an important connection to foster between Trent and Fleming and the larger Peterborough community.

A report released last fall by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce titled “A Battle We Can’t Afford to Lose: Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment” speaks directly to the need for students to feel connected to the working world and employers connected to students.   

“We have to do a better job of preparing young people for the labour market,” remarks Perrin Beatty, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

One way to do that is to prepare the labour market for the students by understanding the skills needed in our economy to propel it forward and providing students the opportunity to learn those skills.  

The CCC report identifies three key areas for successful transition:

  1. Labour market information
  2. Career decision making 
  3. Work integrated learning

An observation I made as a judge is that the Community Innovation Forum is a transition point for students.  They spend months working on their project and now they have to transition from a project focus to using their soft skills such as people skills, relationship building and communication to effectively describe their project and the hard work that went into it to judges.  

A study in the CCC report from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives shows that for entry-level hiring those soft skills are most desirable.  That said, you could call the Community Innovation Forum a job interview, whether it’s for an employer or a potential client.  

The Community Innovation Forum is also the result of months of work integrated learning.  As it stands it is a great example of employer/student collaboration, but how can we improve the program?  What are the opportunities for local businesses to participate?  Do local businesses have projects that would fit with this concept and how do we open the door further to those conversations?  

Hopefully, we just did.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Nov052014

Connecting the dots to a prosperous Peterborough

Chancellor of Trent University, professor and author Don Tapscott wrote an article recently for the Toronto Star (Friday, October 17, 2014) about the success in Guelph and the re-imagined role of municipal government.  Here we will take a look at the principles and highlight what Peterborough already has in place and what areas are in need of attention. 

 

1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity

In the Toronto Star article Tapscott says, “when it comes to jobs, entrepreneurship is key, as close to 80 per cent of new jobs come from companies five years old or less, and technology enables little companies to have the capabilities of big companies.”

He goes on to tell us about Innovation Guelph which “since launching in 2010 has coached more than 500 companies and helped channel more than $12 million into client companies.”  

In Peterborough:
There are actually two regional entities in the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC) and Peterborough Economic Development’s Business Advisory Centre.   The Innovation Cluster mandate is “to drive 21st century technology-based, innovation-driven, and entrepreneurship-led economic growth and high-tech job creation by supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization and new company formation & growth.”  It recently developed “The Cube” which is a technology business incubator that puts entrepreneurs into direct contact with experts who can help them commercialize their ideas.  

In the 2013 Annual Report from Peterborough Economic Development, the Business Advisory Centre is credited with facilitating 64 new start-ups.  The Centre offers “entrepreneurs various tools from registration to guidance from business experts to access to resources or a quiet place to work.”   

2.  Open Government

Here Tapscott relays what the City of Guelph has accomplished from adopting a plan developed by engaged citizens, local business and community stakeholders to including citizens in government decision making to making the new councillor orientation handbook available as a user guide to local government - The Guelph User Guide

In Peterborough:
The City of Peterborough has 10 Advisory Committees, eight of which has citizen appointees.  In the County there are also 10 Advisory Committees and citizen appointees.  

A great idea is publishing the new councillor user guide as a general user guide to local government.  Educating the public on how government works and the processes it follows allows for residents to feel included.  

3. Turning Public Safety Inside Out

Guelph has launched a group called “Guelph Enterprise” which is a model for innovation in human services.  The thinking behind the group is that great policing isn’t the only solution, strong health care, education and social services need to work together with an eye to freeing up resources and capacity for stretched service providers. 

In Peterborough:

The Peterborough Lakefield Police Service has identified this as a major stumbling block.  One Inspector is interested in pulling together a group that sounds very much like “Guelph Enterprise”.    The following was printed in a Voice of Business article on Thursday, October 2, 2014:  

The Chamber is wholeheartedly in favour of a working group to come up with ideas to improve the city for all residents, as suggested by Inspector Dan Smith. “There are no simple solutions and we all must work collaboratively to deal with these problems,” he stated in an email. “Every enforcement initiative we undertake just displaces the activity to another location and doesn't provide a permanent solution.  I would like to form a working group of interested persons to see if we can come up with some ideas.”  

4. Rethinking Transportation

When it came to transportation Tapscott commended Guelph for its cycling master plan including: 100 kilometres of bike lanes and another 110 in various stages of approval, affordable bus pass program, Guelph Central Station Transit Hub, and off-road trails. 

In Peterborough:
“Peterborough’s environment; green space, trails and parks” were identified as one of the best things about 

Peterborough in the 2014 Vital Signs document.

Transportation in general was one of the major issues of the 2014 Municipal Election campaign.  The Peterborough City County Health Unit (PCCHU) report on Active Transportation released last month acknowledges that active transportation rates are on the rise in the region.  The report reflects how Peterborough moves and the impact of transportation choices.

The City presently has 58 kilometres of cycling facilities. The facilities include off-road multi-use trails, trails beside the road and on-road bike lanes. The proposed cycling network calls for an additional 83 km of on-road and 48 km of off-road cycling facilities. The cost of these projects is estimated at $24-33 million and they are expected to be implemented between 2012 and 2031. (PCCHU Report: Active Transportation)

The City of Peterborough passed a new Transportation Master Plan in 2012 that carries with it the following introduction:

“Peterborough’s 2012 Transportation Plan was initiated as an update of the 2002 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The two plans chart a similar course in terms of policy direction. However, the 2012 Transportation Plan can be characterized as requiring a substantially smaller road capital program to support it, and having a greater emphasis on active transportation.”

The 187 page “Transportation Master Plan” report can be found at peterborough.ca

5. Creating a Sustainable City

In this section, Tapscott talks about water, energy and waste diversion measures in Guelph and the successes that community has seen in those areas.

In Peterborough: 

Water Usage:
“In 2013, the Water Treatment Plant produced an average of almost 32,300,000 litres of water per day. That supplies all the needs of the city, including commercial, industrial, institutional and residential uses,” says Wayne Stiver, Vice President of the Water Utility for Peterborough.  “An average person in the City uses about 230 litres of water per day and residential water use accounts for about 56% of the total City demand." 

In response to the affect of the new water meter program, Stiver says, "we are estimating that our customers will use 10 to 15% less water on average and this is based solely upon our consultant's
estimate. We will need several years of data to determine the effects as weather can also play a huge part on water demand. We've had two fairly wet summers in a row and the outdoor water use has been below average in 2013 and 2014."

Energy Mix:
The City of Peterborough through Peterborough Utilities Inc has six power generation stations, generating a total of 33.5 megawatts currently.  An upgrade for another 6 megawatts is in the works.  The mix of generation includes hydro-electric, solar, and landfill gas. 

In the 2013 Vital Signs Report, recycling and composting rates show 55% of household waste was diverted from landfill in 2012 in the City of Peterborough and 44% was diverted in the County of Peterborough.  Both numbers are above comparable city and regional averages.

From the business community perspective, the business plan for corporate social responsibility (CSR) is there. In January of 2013, Sustainable Peterborough hosted author Bob Willard who explained that making green choices could improve your bottom line by between 51 and 81%.  Several chamber members presented at the event and said that even though they made green changes for different reasons the end result is an improvement on their triple bottom line (profit, planet and people).  Find the article under News/Voice of Business/January 17, 2014 on the Chamber website peterboroughchamber.ca

6. Transforming Social Services

“The digital revolution enables cities to better integrate social services, reducing cost and improving value,” says Don Tapscott in the Toronto Star article. 

Guelph formed the Guelph Wellbeing Leadership Group to use the Canadian Index of Wellbeing to assess overall well-being and pool resources inside and outside government to find solutions.

In Peterborough: 

The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough has completed two Vital Signs Reports in 2013 and 2014.  This is essentially an overall snapshot of the well-being of our community.  

The next step would be to take the information gathered in Vital Signs and assess how effective strategies and solutions can be found.   

7. Reinventing Local Democracy

In this last point, Tapscott says Guelph is well on its way to shifting the relationship between government and citizens from “us vs. them” to “we’re in this together”, given the community involvement in the above list. 

In Peterborough: 

The new city council has four new members.  Each council member has a passion for Peterborough and ideas on how to make Peterborough it’s most vibrant and enticing self.   There will be budgets and issues at hand to be dealt with soon enough, but at this moment as the new council settles in to their posts it feels like a crossroads with opportunity stretching out in either direction. 


Perhaps it’s time to take the “we’re in this together” vibe touted in various ways during the election campaign to the next level. 

In the lobbying world there is a saying about how more can be done if groups have “skin in the game” or some type of invested interest in the outcome of an issue.  We all have skin in this game and the opportunity to step up our game has never been greater.  

Join us for more discussion on these topics at the “Connecting the Dots” Policy Forum on Thursday, November 27, 2014 at the Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront from 5:30pm – 8:00pm. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

Thursday
Oct232014

Building bridges between business and post-secondary education

The report from the Canadian Chamber “A Battle We Can’t Afford to Lose: Getting Young Canadians from Education to Employment” comes at a time when not only is Canada as a whole struggling with a skills shortage, but so are its individual provinces and municipalities. The issues of skills, young workers and preparing for a large cohort of retirees have been a very large part of discussions around the future of Peterborough. 

The Chamber’s involvement: 

 

  • In May of 2012, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) hosted an Ontario Economic Leadership Series roundtable. One of several recommendations was continuing to build bridges between Fleming College, Trent University and the business community. 
  • In November of 2013, the Young Professionals Group hosted a policy forum discussion around youth unemployment and under-employment. Result: Call for a more cohesive strategy on jobs in Peterborough. 
  • At the recent Chamber, DBIA and Women’s Business Network Mayoral Debate candidates spoke of a desire to integrate students of Trent and Fleming into the downtown and by extension the business community. 
  • There is talk of an Entrepreneurship Centre at Trent through the Trent Business Council. 
  • The Chamber currently offers student memberships to Trent University and Fleming College. These are distributed by the educational institutions to help aspiring business students to start building career contacts prior to graduation. 
  • The Chamber is planning to hold a Business Summit in 2015, with the Young Professionals Group spearheading the event. 

 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce report begins with the following letter from President and CEO Perrin Beatty. 

As Canada comes to terms with its skills challenges and the numbers of unemployed and under-employed workers, employers, educators and governments are facing great uncertainty about whether we will have enough graduates in high-demand fields or with the skills most sought after. 

If Canada is to successfully tackle its skills gap and ensure its economic growth, we have to give special attention to the largest cohort of labour force entrants each year: young people. 

The skills issue facing youth is the focus of great concern. Canada’s results in international education surveys have been mixed. Our highly-educated youth may still be falling short of the skills needed for our economy to succeed. Without action, this shortage is likely to increase in future as labour market needs continue to evolve. 

Youth unemployment rates have also remained high in the post-recession period, prompting the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to study youth employment and table a report in June 2014. Across the country, there is a growing understanding that closing the skills gap means better aligning our education and training systems to our labour market needs. It is a concern that led the federal Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, to organize a mission to Germany, Europe’s strongest labour market where the “dual training” system enables post-secondary students to segue seamlessly into employment via apprenticeships across 350 occupations. 

At a national skills summit in June 2014, a strong consensus emerged on the need for better labour market information to help youth connect to available jobs and for more responsiveness in the educational system to labour market needs. Three weeks after that summit, provincial-territorial education and labour market ministers jointly hosted a skills symposium with stakeholders to similarly probe improving education-employment linkages. 

“We have to do a better job in preparing young people for the labour market,” is a common refrain among key players on this topic. For Canadian youth, it is essential the education or training they get is relevant to the job market they will enter. First, they need to know where the jobs will be. Second, they need to know what those jobs will be so they can plan their education and training accordingly. Third, they need education that is not just job training but equips them to be adaptable. 

Employers do not always provide clear and strong signals to youth. That needs to change, and this report explores how to improve it. At every step of this discussion on youth, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been engaged with government and stakeholders. With our members in both the employer and educator communities, the Canadian Chamber brings a demand-meets-supply perspective to the need for better labour market information and improving connections between business and post-secondary education. 

With this report, we investigate the state of key factors affecting youth’s successful transition to employment in Canada: 

  1. Labour market information 
  2. Career decision-making 
  3. Work-integrated learning 

Let us do our best to help young people make more informed decisions on their future education and the skills they need. Let us give them the best opportunities to find employment in Canada's dynamic economy. 

The report makes 14 recommendations around the broader topics over improved labour market information (LMI) and work-integrated learning and skills development. 

Full Report

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.