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Learning from the Global Education Industry

Learning from the Global Education Industry

The Canadian red maple was the brand focus at the Canadian Education Industry Summit this week. Why is this brand so important? Simply because it is the Canadian symbol most recognized internationally that identifies with our Canadian values, like diversity, respect and interest in other cultures, sharing our knowledge in effective ways, and the desire to play an important role in shaping global citizenry. Other countries and cultures respect Canada for it's role as a peacemaker and contributing to a world vision that embraces this and related progressive human values and technology.

Co-sponsored by both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems and chaired by Charles Ivey, the summit has been meeting for 7 years as a collaboration among education and industry leaders looking for ways to extend partnerships and advance the industry through these conferences.

Canada is still under-performing in the multi-billion dollar global education industry and has a way to go to catch up with Australia, the world leader in the field with 17% of the world education market. Australia's success story is backed up with effective legislation, including accreditation for education providers and progressive consumer protection for students.

What holds Canada back is an unfamiliarity with entrepreneurism in the publicly funded education system and a lack of coordinated federal support. Education in Canada is administered by the provinces.

But the potential that Canada has in advancing it's education exports is enormous. For starts it's both an English and French speaking country which international students find attractive. Canadian educational products are highly regarded throughout the world. Among the exports are curriculum development, textbooks and education resources, and Canadian schools operating in remote areas and in other countries. Beyond this there is the developing e-learning and blended learning capabilities emerging among universities and K-12 (kindergarten to Grade 12, from age 5 - 18).

What are the important linkages for managers? Australia has shown that business (37%) and IT (17%) training together comprise 54% of their education programs. Rapidly growing markets that are in need of education solutions are occurring in India, Russia, China, and South Central Asia.

These students later become managers and industry leaders. Ties to the countries where they receive their education remain strong and held to facilitate trade with their home country. Internationally designed curriculum, which is recognized as an important industry need, helps them to be more effective as global citizens as they commence work in their industry sector. These are the people you are going to want to recruit for your company.

Honourable Andrew Thomson, the Minister of Learning for Saskatchewan summed it up aptly - "Education has to be about more than sharing current teaching and knowledge. What it provides is an opportunity to deal with social issues and cohesion in building a modern world."

Despite the need for concerted growth efforts, Canada has had some success in global education.

Minister Thomson gave an example of how the University of Saskatchewan, with its' innovative programs in agro-biology that constitute 30% of Canada's Biotech Industry, is regarded as one of the top schools internationally in that field. This has led to an Innovation Centre of Excellence and many spin-off projects with companies around the world. In this case, as with other specialized institutions, the school itself has become a brand of distinction.

In New Brunswick Concord College offers an integrated Chinese-Canadian Diploma for students ending Grade 12, which is the secondary school graduation level. Any excess revenue gets reinvested in Concord.

Ontario's Minister of Education Mary Ann Chambers stated that McMaster University, with an excellent Health Science reputation, recently established a health sciences campus in the United Arab Emirates.

Dinesh Bahal, currently International Director for Sun Microsystems, stated that one of the global challenges is for corporations and individuals is that the half-life of jobs continues to be reduced. This raises issues about how do I train for the next one or how do I retrain along with economic issues to do more with less. The context of life-long learning and career change is an important one. Many of the learning needs of the future are not yet known or grasped.

Arupa Tesolin, owner of the training firm Intuita, is a consultant, speaker, seminar leader and author of The Intuita 3-Minute Solutions for Innovation, Intuition, Vision & Stress. Her numerous international publications on intuition in business have established her as a thought leader in this field. She is currently working on a new book entitled "Becoming An Intuitive Organization". Contact her at www.intuita.com, intuita@intuita.com or 905.271.7272.

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