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Advanced Education figures show nearly 70 per cent of Albertans will pursue more education within 10 years of entering Grade 10, with 80 per cent of those seeking degree, diploma and certificate programs to get the technical and occupation-specific skills that lead to better employment prospects. But there is an interesting shift taking place. Employers in Alberta, indeed across Canada, now indicate their greatest need is for employees who can solve problems, think critically, communicate and work in teams.
As experienced leaders in business and education, we know building technical, cognitive, social and emotional skills enable people to find meaning in what is happening in the world, figure out how to contribute and navigate a path forward. While automation and artificial intelligence mainly mimic what is repeatable, the public and private sectors need individuals who approach challenges and opportunities with flexibility, creativity and critical analysis. Technology can support these skills, but cannot replace them.
Collaboration among government, business, nonprofits and post-secondary institutions is also key. There is a strong history of collaboration in Alberta and a desire to do more. Work-integrated learning opportunities, including co-ops and practicums, create a highly skilled workforce and a globally competitive economy in Alberta. Over half of all undergraduates in Canada are in some form of work-integrated learning programs and those who are, report feeling better prepared for the future.