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Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education Develops Its Research Program


Ottawa, December 9, 2013 – Following on The Conference Board of Canada’s highly successful launch of the Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education (SPSE) on November 6 and 7, investors in the initiative are meeting today in Ottawa to prioritize research themes.

The Centre has been established to address Canada’s advanced skills needs by helping to update and clarify the roles, structures, activities, and impact of the post-secondary education (PSE) system, while promoting its operational sustainability. The five-year initiative will create a Skills and PSE Strategy for Canada that embodies a shared vision for the future of PSE in Canada.

Michael Bloom, the Conference Board’s Vice-President of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning, observes that: “There is no more important influence on Canada’s economic well-being, intellectual and cultural vibrancy, and quality of life than a strong post-secondary education system–one that helps Canadians gain the skills they need for personal well-being and career success. The SPSE is designed to generate an evidence base from which to design a more effective PSE system.”

The Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education

Investors comprise a cross-section of stakeholders in Canada’s skills and PSE system. PSE institutions investing in the development of a strategy range from large, research-intensive universities to smaller teaching universities, community colleges, polytechnics, cegeps, independent or online institutions, and career colleges.

The Conference Board is undertaking a comprehensive engagement process with all stakeholders in Canada’s skills and PSE system.

Multiple reference groups are being convened to lend specialized expertise and capacity to the Conference Board Board’s research team. The focus of these reference groups include:

  • the Quality Network of Universities, an existing executive network of the Conference Board that convenes VP-level university administrators;
  • the Council for Education and Training in the Digital Age;
  • the Indigenous Peoples’ Roundtable on Skills and PSE; and
  • the Youth, Entrepreneurs, and Students Reference Group.

Diana MacKay, Director of the Centre for Skills and PSE notes: “By engaging leaders with specific expertise on key challenges and potential solutions that could inform the strategy, the actionable nature of our recommendations will be reinforced and the potential impact of the overall initiative will be strengthened.”

Since July 1, Carl Amrhein has been seconded from his position as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) of the University of Alberta to help organize and launch the Centre. Amrhein will remain involved with the Centre for Skills and PSE as an Special Executive Advisor for the full five-year period of the project following his return to his position at the University of Alberta on February 1, 2014.

“The opportunity to work on the Centre for Skills and PSE is a tremendous opportunity for me to integrate what I have been studying and learning about universities and colleges around the world into a comprehensive framework of PSE for Canada. While the Canadian PSE systems have great strengths and have served Canada very well, the world in which we compete is changing rapidly and there is more we can do collectively to better meet the needs of Canada in general, and our learners in particular,” said Amrhein.

The first reports of the Centre will be published in early 2014, and an early draft strategy document is anticipated for preliminary consultation with stakeholders at the next Summit on Skills and PSE in November 2014.

For more information contact
Brent Dowdall
Associate Director, Communications
613-526-3090 ext.448

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