Today’s University Affairs includes a short interview with the University of Alberta’s Provost Carl Amrhein in which the Provost notes the following:
If you define skilled people as those who, through a combination of experience and training and education, make a useful contribution to the economy and society, then everybody who leaves a university is a skilled person. If you look at all of the graduates from all of the accredited programs – medicine, nursing, pharmacy, engineering, teaching, law, business – these are all exceptionally highly skilled individuals who walk into jobs and walk into labour markets that do not have enough employees.
On the Value of A University Education
I think the utilitarian attitude that whatever I do I have to convert into some useful, productive, paying activity is an attitude I don’t fully understand. … It’s not the kind of view of the value of education that was presented to me by my parents. I still believe that education is intrinsically in and of itself a good thing. If you want to monetize it, the statistics on lifetime earnings are overwhelmingly in favour of more education. So the critics of the value of an education are ignoring powerful statistical evidence. And they also are ignoring the reality of career tracks where you will change jobs many times and you need that set of skills and coping strategies to adjust to rapidly changing employment settings. I think the debate is misinformed.
On Canada’s Underfunding of Postsecondary Education and Academic Research
I believe that the universities are inextricably tied to the success of the nation, not just financially but culturally and in terms of government. I think it is an important and worrisome reality today that Canada is backing away to a certain extent from investing in higher education at the very moment other powerful systems are investing heavily.