Education Transforms Lives, Society

I recently had the great honour of delivering the convocation address to this year’s graduates from BCIT’s School of Energy and School of Business. It was exciting joining these students, their teachers, and their friends and families for such a milestone in their lives.

I reminded them that they, like so many of us, stand on the shoulders of those who came before us—all the people who fought so hard to build a public education system. In the grand sweep of human history, publicly accessible higher education is a relatively recent innovation. It is an innovation that has helped our society create a revolution in realizing human potential.

Partnered with the technology sector, public education has the potential to take this even further, to make sure we can all benefit from the fourth industrial revolution.

Right here, in British Columbia, our technology sector is looking at a looming talent shortage—up to 30,000 jobs needing skilled workers by 2021. Public education has the key to unlocking this challenge—helping connect elementary, middle, and high school students with the wonders of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths while they are still young enough to set their paths.

We also need to keep building on commitments to expand the number of technology-related post secondary seats so those who have chosen the path can follow it.

But, there’s a much bigger opportunity. We must find a new way to connect working people with life-long learning—so they are getting the skills for a changing workplace in real time.

This focus on education is critical if we want to seize all the good the tech sector can do in building our province, our communities, and our livelihoods. It’s also critical for the very essence of what the tech sector does—doing good.

The tech sector is driven by a can-do attitude and a belief that ideas can make a real and positive difference in the world.

Changing the world for good is the business model I see in action every day across the tech sector and in the hearts of the people working in it. There are companies large and small filled with people striving to make the world better.

In every industry and sector in our economy—forestry, mining, health care, education, financial services—tech is changing the very nature of the work being done and the value being delivered. It is making life better and making sure non-tech industries and the jobs in them have a future.

With grads like the ones I met at BCIT, I know British Columbia and British Columbians can be at the forefront of solving problems at home and abroad. We owe it to them to keep building so we can transform our futures together.

– Jill Tipping, President and CEO, BC Tech Association