This nice little headline greeted me this morning on my home page.
You put a bunch of smart people in the room and they come up with that?
Here’s a little bit-sized snack for those experts. The more educated you are the more likely you are to leave Atlantic Canada. I took a detailed look at this a few years ago and there is a direct correlation between education level and out-migration (with the limited exception of the Fort McMurray out-migration).
You want to keep people in Atlantic Canada? Make sure they have very little education.
Now, if you figure out how to foster good paying jobs here that require educated people – then our folks will stay and I believe folks will even move back (or come for the first time). But don’t whip out that tired line about the link between investing in education and economic development. It’s just another one of those common sense cliches like “small business is the backbone of the economy”. It’s brain candy because you don’t have to think about it.
If the Association of Atlantic Universities is finally serious about halting the economic and population decline in Atlantic Canada I think that is great. Instead of demanding more money, here are a few real tangible ways to help:
1. R&D that feeds cluster development – nuff said.
2. Attract a few high profile researchers and research chairs in support of cluster development.
3. Become world experts in reseach into how economies transform themselves. And don’t give me that usual crap. I am talking about serious analysis into how places like Atlantic Canada can build new economy clusters. How they attract industries. How they foster R&D. How they attract talent. Real, tangible research into how things get done.
4. Be a full partner in attracting and fostering industry growth. The hedge fund companies that set up in Halifax were highly impressed with the universities in that city. The senior leaders of the universities are on the pitch team to attract industry.
5. Use the universities as incubators for immigration. Be intentional and deliberate about targeting international students as eventual residents of the region – assuming the right jobs are here for them.
6. Share those alumni lists with repatriation and investment attraction efforts. I realize you are trying to guard those lists religiously but if there is a VP in company in New York that graduated from your school, we need to talk with him/her about expanding in this region. Don’t obstruct. Help.
7. When major donors/town from outside (like Microsoft) come to town make sure the snake oil salesman from BNB is in the room.