Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Want to future- proof your career?"/ "The internet thing may turn out to be a big deal"

Sept. 3, 2016 "Want to future- proof your career?": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail today:

For many, this week marks a new chapter in their lives: the first week of university. Like countless students before them, those first few weeks are a flurry of experiences and opportunities that sets out the road to independence. However, that expectation that in four short years their education will be complete is rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Rather, they will be entering a professional world where in order to compete, they must embrace the ethos of life-long student.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and speaker based in Mississauga, describes the work force that students can expect to graduate into as one of “rapid knowledge obsolescence.”

To adapt, professionals will need to possess “just-in-time knowledge” and continue learning in order to have the relevant information at the right time to suit a specific purpose.

“We are never going to have the right skills and knowledge to do what needs to be done. The only way we will is to continue to reinvent ourselves, by updating our skills in order to maintain our relevance. We need to accept that as our reality,” Mr. Carroll said.

That’s why it made perfect sense to him when his son, who graduated in June from Carleton University in Ottawa with a bachelor of arts in physical geography with a minor in geomatics, immediately enrolled in a certificate program in geographic information systems at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.
Yet, it’s not only employees that need to adapt; universities, colleges and employers need to change their approaches to in order to stay competitive.

“Everything is going to change,” Mr. Carroll said. “Universities and colleges aren’t really prepared to give us what we need. Employers aren’t really in the right frame of mind either since they rely on old outdated hiring models and recruitment. Also, if you are a graduate, and you don’t have the right frame of mind that you need to continually maintain your skills, then you are wrong as well,” he said.

The key, suggested Mr. Carroll, is to emphasize skill sets rather than degrees, but how? It’s a problem that New York-based Markle Foundation has been trying to solve.

The Unites States, they observed, has a critical need for a skill-based labour market. There are currently 5.5 million job openings, but 6.5 million people are unemployed. They attribute part of this disconnect to the outdated methods employers use to vet candidates and discern skills.

Wan-Lae Cheng, senior director at the Markle Foundation, cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows 18 out of the 30 occupations in the U.S. with the largest projected growth by 2020 do not require a bachelor’s degree. However, many employers require that candidates have a university degree even for roles that may not require them, a such as executive assistants and sale reps.

“Seventy per cent of Americans don’t have a college degree, but employers have a problem articulating the skills required for the problems they need to solve. There needs to be more paths of equal respect and dignity that gets people in good careers,” Ms. Cheng said.

In order to remedy this gap, they partnered with LinkedIn and Arizona State University to launch Skillful, a technology platform that helps people navigate different career paths and training solutions to give them the skills they need for real jobs.

“A lot of the work we did up front was detailed research to understand what are the soft and hard skills that employees actually require. If you have the skills you can do the job well. The challenge for employers, is [a degree] is still to date one of their easiest proxies to filter out what skills they need. There is no other way to assess for those skills,” she said.

While that may be true, some employers are searching for ways to look past those specific credentials.

Vanessa Federovich, vice-president of human resources and corporate services for Roche Canada, based in Mississauga, said that while a degree is often a prerequisite, they look for life-long learners who can thrive in an industry that changes so quickly.

“We look for those with a desire to learn and develop, for candidates with life experiences who travelled to broaden their mindset. We ask people to tell us about an interesting vacation they took to glean if they can deal with change or the unknown,” Ms. Federovich said.

To foster learning, the company has developed an in-house internship program that allows employees to try out new roles for six months to a year.
“When we go to market to look for people, we look for so much more [than a degree], including the ability to live in ambiguity. We need someone that thrives in an environment where they do one thing today and another thing tomorrow,” Ms. Federovich said.

In other words, just-in-time knowledge, or as one of Mr. Carroll’s favourite quotes from a well-known educator named Lewis Perelman put it, “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

Here's a comment:
Controller DC 7 hours ago
Not a life long learner (which can be done for the cost of an internet subscription and a library card), but a life long STUDENT.

That means paying large $ fees for made up credentials to your local University.

This message brought to you by the Universities of Canada.
Controller DC 7 hours ago
Not a life long learner (which can be done for the cost of an internet subscription and a library card), but a life long STUDENT.

That means paying large $ fees for made up credentials to your local University.

This message brought to you by the Universities of Canada.

Controller DC:

Not a life long learner (which can be done for the cost of an internet subscription and a library card), but a life long STUDENT.

That means paying large $ fees for made up credentials to your local University.

This message brought to you by the Universities of Canada.

"Going beyond the jobs boot camp": Today I found this this article in the Edmonton Journal today.  It's on epaper so I can't access it.  It's about Jake Schwartz who is the co-founder of General Assembly.  I had to look it up.  It's online courses, mainly technology.

Sept. 7, 2016 "This internet thing might turn out to be a big deal": I read this article by Andrew Coyne.  It was the National Post section in the Edmonton Journal:

Maybe you’ve seen the movie Brazil, Terry Gilliam’s great dystopian satire, in which is presented a vision of the future, as imagined in the past. Which is to say it’s set somewhere in the present (or rather the past — the film was made in 1984), as it might have been envisaged circa 1948. It’s just 1940s technology, extrapolated: pneumatic tubes and filing cabinets, only more advanced.

The process is sometimes referred to as “colonizing the future.” Try as we might to imagine what life will be like, we are inevitably hostage to current modes of thought. Though in some ways we tend to overestimate how much things will have changed in future (the flying cars that were supposed to be here by now, for example), more usually we underestimate it. As some wiseacre said of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and its star, Patrick Stewart: “It’s the 24th century and they still haven’t found a cure for baldness?”

I’m put in mind of this reading Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth, his hugely influential analysis of the marked slowdown in productivity growth observed since the early 1970s. Against the popular belief that we live in a time of unprecedented technological change, Gordon points out how much more extraordinary were the “Great Inventions” of a hundred-odd years ago: the Second Industrial Revolution that brought us everything from electricity to indoor plumbing; from the telephone to the radio; from the car to the airplane, and more.

Beside such truly life-altering advances, the computer, the internet and the cell phone look comparatively trivial. Or do they? I wonder whether Gordon’s view of past technological advances might not be a case of the past colonizing the present. They seem extraordinary to us because we have a century of experience with which to measure their impact, relative to the centuries that preceded them.

By contrast, we are only in the first faint stirrings of the digital era. The personal computer is barely 35 years old; the internet, as a popular phenomenon, not much more than 20. We have no idea what their long-run impact will be, not least since the nature of such inventions, as extensions of the human mind, is to enable us to invent still more. It took decades for the first two Industrial Revolutions to show up in higher productivity. Maybe the same applies to the third. A hundred years from now, we may decide its impact was as much as the first two put together.

Who can say, but I can’t help thinking this internet thing might turn out to be something big. The printing press is generally regarded as something of a revolution, and what did that give you? The chance to own a book — two, if you were very wealthy. If so, a technology that gives you instant access to every book that has ever been written — all of human knowledge, wherever you are, whenever you want it — must surely have something going for it.

At any rate, Gordon’s death of innovation theory rather conflicts with that other great anxiety of our times: the notion that technological innovation, far from fading, threatens to run ahead of our ability to control it, or at least to benefit from it. Artificial intelligence, we are told, if it does not altogether enslave us, will at the very least make us economically obsolete. Already it has started to replicate tasks previously thought the preserve of the human mind, from legal drafting to investment advice. Call it the Robots Will Take Our Jobs theory.

In one sense this is undoubtedly true. Technology has been replacing human labour since at least the days of the knitting machine. All that has changed of late is the nature of the labour that is being replaced: instead of low-wage physical labour, now it’s those fancy-pants “symbolic analysts” whose jobs are on the line: lawyers, bankers, maybe even, heh heh, journalists. (I joke, of course. That’s impossible.)

Where the RWTOJ thesis falls down is not in the idea that there will be jobs lost, but in its unstated corollary, that there will be no jobs created in their place. Economists call this the “lump of labour” fallacy: the assumption that there is a fixed amount of work to be done in any economy, and no more, such that any reduction in the demand for labour, as through automation, must inevitably leave some permanently out of work. The same is often claimed about increases in labour supply, as through immigration. Just so many jobs to go around, after all.

But in fact there is no fixed amount of work to be done. There is no permanent list somewhere of all the goods and services consumers might want or the jobs that might be filled providing them. Consumers’ wants are limitless, as is human ingenuity: not only do we generally prefer more of what we already want, but entrepreneurs are constantly thinking up new wants we didn’t know we had. Much of today’s workforce is engaged in making goods and services that not only did not exist a century ago, but had not been imagined.

Suppose it is cheaper to hire a robot to do a certain job, say drafting wills. In competitive markets, that reduction in cost will be passed on in the form of lower prices to consumers. That leaves them with more to spend on other things, creating jobs in other sectors. That’s hard on those who have to make the transition, but there’s nothing new or unusual in it. Every year in the Canadian economy, more than three million people leave their jobs, voluntarily or involuntarily. And three million-plus take on new jobs. If no jobs could ever be lost to technological and other change we’d still have 80 per cent of the labour force working on the farm.

The past few decades have seen an endless series of blights that were supposed to condemn us to mass unemployment: downsizing, outsourcing, free trade, Dutch disease. And through it all the proportion of the adult population in employment has risen: from 57 per cent in 1976 to 62 per cent in 1989 to nearly 64 per cent at its latest peak, in 2008. (It’s more like 61 per cent now, not because more people are unemployed but because, with the first of the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, the labour force has begun to shrink.)

Maybe my thinking, too, has been colonized by the past. Just because things have always worked out in the past, maybe they won’t work out in future. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Here are a few comments:

Bryan Dale ·
There is a slowdown in innovation, which is to be expected when the government controls half the national finances. Governments do spend money, redistribute it and mostly waste it. They don't innovate. Until the people rise up and take control of their lives back from the government there will be little innovation because Leave's so little for people and business to invest in new ideas. The one bright spot is in how the Internet has enabled ordinary people to by-pass government censorship. Thirty five years ago Canadian only had access to the news the government allowed us to see and read. Now we have access to independent sources from around the world.

Tony Belmore

Like · Reply · 1 · Sep 5, 2016 12:02pm

D Paul Kirk ·

Your government bashing claim falls apart when you consider that England, the creative and entrepreneurial home of the Industrial Revolution, had a complex system of government and taxation at the time. Although that government didn't "control half of the national finances", few people had any disposable income or leisure time, yet that didn't stop them from creating numerous practical and wacky innovations, so of which we still use daily.

Although today's governments do collect more taxes, in comparison to the average 18th century English citizen, Canadians are fabulously wealthy, better educated, and have far more leisure time with easy access to information and research sources. It's not government that prevents individual Canadians from innovating and inventing.
Controller DC 7 hours ago
Not a life long learner (which can be done for the cost of an internet subscription and a library card), but a life long STUDENT.

That means paying large $ fees for made up credentials to your local University.

This message brought to you by the Universities of Canada.
Controller DC 7 hours ago
Not a life long learner (which can be done for the cost of an internet subscription and a library card), but a life long STUDENT.

That means paying large $ fees for made up credentials to your local University.

This message brought to you by the Universities of Canada.


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