Thursday, November 03, 2005

Are Canadians Remotely Prepared For The Future?

I'm an entrepreneur in the I.T. industry. Have been for over a decade. I have my own company (two of them actually) and am expecting great things to happen in 2006 with the release of a new product one of my companies has built.

What most concerns me about the future of Canada is how tied we still are to our primary industries. It baffles me how Canada seems to have missed the boat when it comes to hi-tech manufacturing, be it hardware or software. Sure there are exceptions but in terms of employment numbers, hi-tech makes up such a small part of the economy. Could it be that our resource riches and our economic ties with the U.S. have allowed us to be lazy and complacent when it comes to ingenuity, innovation, and productivity?

Put another way, imagine there are two high school students. One comes from a rich family and is given everything by his parents: A $75,000 car on his 16th birthday, trips around the world with his friends, a free education, etc. The other comes from an equally wealthy family, but one in which the parents exercised moderation. They helped him buy a used $10,000 car, but only if he got a part-time job to pay for part of it. He was taken on trips ... with his family. His parents paid for his education, on the condition that he kept his grades up. Which of these two will have a stronger work ethic? Which of these two will use his resources more sparingly and creatively? Which of these two will be better prepared when times get hard?

It's constantly drummed into our youth that a good education is needed to prosper in the new economy. I agree. But while student populations are up, I frequently hear reports that fewer & fewer Canadian kids are enrolling in Science & Engineering. It is in these areas where future industries will be built, not Psychology or Law or Political Science. People don't like to hear this but let's face it, Canadians are in denial about a lot of things.

I'm working hard on building a prosperous future for myself and my future employees, but am VERY worried about the future of my province and my country. If necessity is the mother of invention then only when times get tough in the future will we finally gain the impetus to get our collective act together!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I generally agree. We've become relatively fat and happy. Many parents prefer to indulge their children as it's easier than denying them and having to put up with their whining (or worse). And as polticians have discovered (and perfected), giving people what they want makes you popular (although it may not be the right thing to do).

But why is it that may students prefer "soft subjects" over the sciences? Either we're not rewarding hard science job appropriately, over-paying soft subject jobs (the background of many bureacrats, social workers, etc. by the way), or young people don't believe in working hard for their future.