So ignorant and lacking in training are many recruits to the Canadian workforce that many business leaders recoil in horror.
They ask if these can be the people with whom we can win global competition.
How can such a workforce dominate the knowledge-intensive industries where our future will be made?
What use are other business or sales techniques that draw on a worker’s talents and initiatives when that particular person is woefully lacking in the skills required to tap into them?
If two out of every five new jobs that are expected to be created within the next decade will call for more than basic skills, where will the tens of thousands of qualified workers come from to fill them? Presumably, not all will be immigrants from countries that have a more intensive education system.
Little wonder that more and more are recognizing the importance of education as a cornerstone of future Canadian prosperity. It generally is recognized that jobs in Canada have become more demanding. That holds true not only for a minority of jobs that always have had high knowledge requirements, such as physicians or engineers.
Now, workers trained and educated are better paid than the manual or blue-collar labourer, and they also have greater job security, even in the current, weak job market. Education for business has become the essential element of the Canadian economy. This educational process already has become crucial to productivity, competitive strength and economic progress; it will only gain in importance.
These facts, impressive as they are, do not reveal a very important factor in our future ability to prosper. What matters is that education for business has become the most important cost of production in every advanced economy.
In fact, even in the less developed countries, education and training will rise in significance as these places attempt to raise the standard of living of their inhabitants. This will mean an intense struggle for business world-wide.
Economists still classify the industries dependent on education as services.
As such, they contrast with the primary industries such as agriculture, mining and forestry.
The economic history of Canada is noteworthy, as we have switched our emphasis from primary industries to more advanced methods of production; we have gradually reduced our reliance on exporting products from the natural resource industries. Then, as manufacturing became more important, workers mainly were employed on assembly lines that required skills, but not much higher education.
The switch to work requiring more information with the large-scale movement to new technologies means, above all, that our prosperity will be determined by the education and knowledge workers are able to put into their tasks.