Insightful Comments from a Political Leader

The Education Premier

Leaders in higher education are expected to prepare their institutions for a rapidly changing world and must understand the implications of technological change for economic growth and for education.  Perhaps one way to better understand these implications is to review the address by Ontario’s Premier in the Ontario Legislature…

Technological Change

Ontario Legislative Assembly - Toronto, Ontario

“It is generally agreed that changes in technology have always and will continue to affect our social and economic system. It is also agreed that the rate of change in our social and economic system is related to the rate of change in technology and that the rate of technological change is accelerating.  Further, there is general acceptance that the first implication of technological change will be the change in the nature of individual jobs and each such change eventually leads to changes in values, patterns of behaviour and our social institutions, including government itself.”

Skill Workers and the Need for Education

“What has emerged from the evidence of the past four years is that the level of skills or education needed for many of the jobs that have opened up are such that some unemployed have been unable to shift readily from job to job within an industry or from one industry to another. It is almost a paradox that future growth in Ontario may be hampered because of skill shortage rather than by displacement of workers by sophisticated machines”.

“The long-term solution to most of our problems obviously lies in education and training, in the fullest possible development and utilization of all our human resources. We must prepare Canadian youth to enter the multitude of highly-skilled jobs available today and the ever greater number which will arise in the future.”

An Educated Citizenry

“Our true wealth resides in an educated citizenry; our shrewdest and most profitable investment rests in the education of our people. A general phenomenon of our day is that brainworkers — (`knowledge workers’, as they are more frequently labelled, to contrast with ‘manual workers’), and these, in the future, of an ever-higher calibre — are the prime economic need for societies in advanced states of industrialism”.

“It we are to attain these ends, we must of course envisage an educational structure far greater and more efficient than any we have yet known.”

Conclusion

The words of the Premier are insightful and poignant.   I also believe they are accurate and a good reminder where we must invest our scarce public resources.

The Honourable John P. Robarts

Note:  These words are also timely as this is an abridged speech made by the Premier of Ontario, the Honourable John P. Robarts to the Ontario Legislative Assembly on February 23, 1965.  The Premier made these statements several months prior to the introduction of the Bill that provided the legislation to establish Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario (May 21, 1965).

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About kentmacdonald

President and Vice Chancellor Professor, Faculty of Education St. Francis Xavier University
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