Left behind

Most agree, the people being left behind in the new economy are primarily men without post-secondary qualifications and generally, rural areas are not doing as well as urban areas.

It’s easy to villainize globalization, the previous government or the environmental movement, but other than festering anger and hatred it does little to help those being left behind or those students worried about future employment.

Luckily for Alberta’s economy, resource development is not going to disappear over night.

It will take many decades for alternate energy sources to replace oil and gas with cost-effective alternate energy sources which the poorest citizens of the world can afford.

But it’s not just climate change policies that are affecting jobs in the fossil fuel world, it’s technology.

Even when Alberta gets more pipelines, there will be fewer jobs because of technology advances.

Rural areas suffered much with the loss of families when small farms were sucked up by mega farming operations.

The loss of resource extraction jobs is yet another blow.

I walked into a Walmart store in Red Deer this week to find, much to my dismay, all but three tills had been changed out for self-serve checkouts.

Yet another example of, in this case, women, who will suffer greatly without additional post secondary skills.

Future jobs are a serious problem that political leaders need to address wisely and thoughtfully. For starters,

Premier Kenney should be promoting jobs of the future through a radical transformation of Alberta’s education and re-training programs.

Germany’s apprenticeship system provides high school students with the option of skilled trades or academic pursuits recognizing both streams are important in the new economy.

Students on the skilled trades track receive government-assisted, on-thejob training and are ready for employment in high paying jobs much earlier than had they been forced to complete a traditional 12-year grade school.

The German educational model slashes high school drop out rates. Our current form of education seems better adapted to females whereas a dual track option would favour all students.

We commit a lot of resources to traditional universities.

Provincial governments need to spend equivalent amounts on post-secondary training for those displaced workers who need new skills to work and thrive in 21st century jobs.

Agricultural jobs disappeared as technology advanced, manufacturing and resource-based jobs likewise.

Now service jobs through automation and on-line shopping are disappearing. Predictions include sharp declines in the trucking industry as self-driving technology progresses.

Rather than pitting urban against rural and different levels of education against each other, our political leaders need to work towards the future.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that there are 6.7 million working age Canadians (25 to 64) without post secondary education.

These are becoming the left behind.

Politicians, who ignore those whose jobs are becoming obsolete or promise the ‘the good old days’ will return are being unfair to workers and to students.

The days of high paying jobs without post-secondary qualifications and the easy availability of lesserskilled jobs have and will continue to disappear as the technology revolution advances.

It’s human nature to cling to the comfortable past, but political leaders must set aside politics and become the catalysts to change and augment our current education and re-training structures.

Giving hope and opportunity to those being left behind serves all Albertans today and in the future.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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