The Advancing Leadership Blog

Shift 2012 Vancouver: Are our businesses designed to thrive?

Karen Chown is TEC Canada’s Vice President of Member Relations. She recently attended TEC’s SHIFT 2012 event in Vancouver, participating in the the futurist workshop of Dr. Chris Luebkeman to identify and analyze the effects of the complex changes that are currently affecting Canada’s business environment. You can follow her on Twitter at @ChownerCalgary.

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop given by Dr. Chris Luebkeman, who heads Arup’s Foresight, Incubation and Innovation team.  Chris reinforced how quickly our world is changing – in fact, that change is constant and through participation we can influence this change.

Our group discussions were thought provoking – what where these drivers of change and how they might impact our businesses 20 years from now?  Are our businesses designed to thrive?

The aging of our population in Canada has been a demographic reality which we regularly think about, at least superficially.  But have we really considered the impact of this change?

At the most fundamental level, human capital, or people, drive our economy.  Consider Canada’s population pyramid which reminds us that our economy will be increasingly reliant on immigrants, as our population of working age adult dwindles. As we become more reliant on immigrant population growth to fuel our own economy, it reminds me that many Canadian businesses are not adequately prepared to leverage our new workforce.  Our educational, training and accreditation systems lag behind supporting our needs.  Canada is the only G8 country in the world without a fast track medical accreditation system designed for immigration of medical professionals from specific countries.

We often read about or experience the generational differences between workers.  The Millennials are delaying adulthood;  extending their education, living at home with parents until late into their 20s and seeking balance in their work lives.  This will have a tremendous impact on our economy. Home purchases will be delayed, children will be born later and there will be fewer of them.  Most millennials have a different value system, placing less importance on consumerism.  How will this impact our economy and our businesses?

We can sit back and watch these changes take place or we can influence the future by shaping it.  Business leaders can and should be making significant efforts to make their workplaces welcoming to immigrants. We can get involved in making our education, training and accreditation systems become world class.

Let’s get started.

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