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New Economy LIVE showcases Calgarys innovative approach to talent development V2

Calgary Economic Development held its fourth and final New Economy LIVE event of 2020, which explored how Calgary can become Canada’s top destination for talent and transform itself into a LearningCITY. The complimentary event drew nearly 300 attendees from numerous sectors and communities across Calgary.

Hosted by Calgary Economic Development’s Research and Strategy team, the New Economy LIVE series showcases our community’s economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy. The Dec. 11 virtual event focused on the Talent pillar and how reinventing our city must begin with reinventing how we learn. The previous three events focused on the pillars of PlaceBusiness Environment, and Innovation.

Dexter Lam, Manager, Talent, Calgary Economic Development, and Mike Holden, Vice President of Policy and Chief Economist, Business Council of Alberta, kicked off the event by co-presenting insights from the LearningCITY study, Skills that Matter, and the Business Council of Alberta’s study, Skilled by Design. Both highlighted the complimentary nature of their work as the studies emphasize our city’s and province’s need to continue meeting workforce demands (through upskilling and experience-based training) and to transform our learning ecosystem to better foster adaptability (through the development of both domain-specific and enabling competencies).

The panel discussion was moderated by Jason Ribeiro, Director of Strategy, Calgary Economic Development, and featured leaders from across Calgary’s formal and informal learning system, including the Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Public Library, and Calgary tech company Xerris Inc.   

“Soft skills are huge and are only going to become more in demand as we move forward in tech,” said Jeremy Tooley, CEO of Xerris. “You’re dealing with difficult stakeholders and challenging outcomes—you need those soft skills moving forward.”

Panelists discussed how learning systems must recognize and credit the diversity of learning pathways people take to generate a competitive labour force for the future. This includes all forms of education and experience.

“It’s really important to recognize the roles of both those formal and informal learning opportunities and how they work together, complement and build upon one another to result in that stronger and more sustainable foundation for lifelong learning,” said Heather Robertson, Director, Service Design, Calgary Public Library.

“Public libraries play a critical role in providing access to information and accessible opportunities for learning and enrichment. At Calgary Public Library, our goal is to design collections, programs and services that don’t just increase access to resources, but also inspire and empower that lifelong learning journey and build connected and engaged communities.” 

Participants also got a sneak peek of SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology. Jim Gibson, the School’s Chief Catalyst, outlined the important customersor categories of learnersthe new facility would support: job changers, job creators and the future disenfranchised who don’t see themselves in the new economy.

“It’s up to us and schools like SAIT and the School for Advanced Digital Technology to find ways to engage and provide the skills necessary to make this happen,” said Gibson. “We call these (people) the future disenfranchised because they don’t connect themselves to the future and we need to help get them there.”

The new economy is driven by rapid technological advancement and it isn’t waiting for anyone, but that feeling of connection to the community starts at an early age.

“How Calgarians see themselves as part of something larger starts in our school system,” said Joanne Pitman, Superintendent of School Improvement, Calgary Board of Education. 

“One of the interesting questions we’ve been asking ourselves is how is it that our students see themselves as part of the city—immediately as contributors to something more—rather than only after they enter the workforce.”

With Calgary entering a new year full of uncertainty, the panelists recognized the city’s strength in possessing a highly educated, agile population who have what it takes to pivot towards tech. 

“There’s opportunity to reskill people coming in from oil and gas right now which I think leads to purpose-driven learning,” said Tooley. “How do you take these people who have unique skills from oil and gas, like relationship skills, stakeholder skills, and communications skills, and move them into technology? It’s not a big lift.”

Thank you to the hundreds of Calgarians from all four corners of the city who have attended this event series. Keep an eye out for future New Economy LIVE events in 2021 on our events page.

Unable to attend Friday’s New Economy LIVE? Watch the full webinar here and share with your networks.

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