Social media connects Canadians to careers
Ignore that request from LinkedIn or Twitter at your peril — it might be a job offer, according to a global study released Wednesday.
The study, commissioned by U.S. human resources firm Kelly Services, found that 39 per cent of Canadians polled have been contacted through a social media website or network in the last year about a possible job opportunity.
Of those surveyed, 14 per cent of Canadians said they were hired after having been contacted via websites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
“Social media is rapidly revolutionizing the recruitment process because it broadens the access to an enormous pool of candidates,” said Michael Webster, executive vice-president of the Americas region for Kelly Services in a statement.
“We are also seeing the impact access to smart technology has on retention as the work and personal lives of today’s employees is more commonly blended together. Suddenly employees have the flexibility to engage socially or accomplish work tasks at any given time.”
Man, 18, recovering after campus attack
An 18-year-old male University of British Columbia student is recovering after being slashed in the back several times with a knife during an early morning attempted robbery, according to UBC RCMP. Police offered a written statement that says the attack is not connected to the recent series of late-night sexual assaults on campus. They warned students to be “constantly vigilant and aware of their potential vulnerability when walking alone on Campus in the very early hours of the morning.”
From the release:
The student was returning to his student residence complex in the 2500 block of West Mall just after 4 a.m. when he was suddenly confronted from behind by an unknown male brandishing a small knife and demanding his wallet and mobile phone. The attacker lunged towards the student slashing at him as the student attempted to run away. The student escaped from his attacker, foiling the robbery, however the student did sustain several superficial cuts to his back and shoulders requiring minor medical treatment. The attacker fled on foot in an unknown direction after the student escaped. The attacker is described as an Caucasian male approximately 40 years old. This male had a greying beard and short grey hair. He was of average build and was wearing a light coloured hoodie and black sweat pants.
Anti-tuition protests became riots
MONTREAL – Quebec provincial police say they underestimated the threat level at a student demonstration that turned into a riot last year.
Marcel Savard, the force’s assistant director, told a commission looking into the student protests of 2012 that police underestimated demonstrators outside a provincial Liberal meeting in May 2012.
He also confirmed fences erected to keep demonstrators away from the gathering in the central Quebec town of Victoriaville were inadequate and there was a breakdown in the communication of intelligence information.
Savard said police have learned valuable lessons from the experience.
He said maintaining the peace is a shared responsibility between police and demonstrators and that such weapons as rubber bullets were not used indiscriminately.
Students protested last year in opposition to tuition fee increases imposed by the provincial government, which argued fees had not been raised in years. Many demonstrations were held in Montreal and some of them turned violent.
Recent survey of international students might surprise you
In 1916, Bill Boeing went to MIT to hire his first chief engineer. He picked Wong Tsoo, a Chinese guy who had emigrated to England at the age of 16 for undergrad before crossing the Atlantic for graduate school. Wong quickly got to work on Boeing’s first commercially successful plane, the C-Model. Imagine how different the airline industry might have been had another country’s university—Canada’s perhaps—enticed Wong. Both Canada and the U.S. had racist anti-Chinese policies at the time, such as the Head Tax, but if Canada had been less racist than America, might the Wongs of the era have chosen McGill?
We’ve come a long way since then. From 2001 to 2008, the number of international students in Canada increased at a rate of 4.3% per year; between 2008 to 2012 the annual increase was, astonishingly, 12.3%. There were 265,377 in 2012 (74% of them in post-secondary schools). We now get five per cent of all international students worldwide, making Canada the seventh most popular destination after the US, UK, China, France, Germany and Australia, according to Project Atlas.
Why Canadians shouldn’t feel so smug about this video
A video is making the rounds showing students at Harvard University struggling to answer a simple question of world geography: what is the capital of Canada? Canadians love this game. We congratulate ourselves for knowing plenty about the US while looking down our nose at Americans who know nothing about us. And the fact that even the best and brightest Americans—Harvard students no less—are so ignorant, well that’s just the whipped cream on the ice cream isn’t it?
But it’s a silly game and we should stop playing it.
For one thing, in videos like this there is no way of telling how many students came up with Ottawa but weren’t shown in the final edit. For another, we should acknowledge that at least most of the students seemed embarrassed by the fact that they didn’t know. And besides, Canada, unlike the UK or France or Japan, is one of those cases where the capital city is not the largest or most prominent city—so it’s a tricky question. I bet most Canadian students think the capital of Australia is Sydney.
But the main reason we should stop finding ways to feel superior to Americans when it comes to a world knowledge, is that, if we faced facts, we would have to admit that we are not much better. Sure we know a fair bit about the US because we are awash in American media, but what about the rest of the world?
Indeed, if you are a Canadian university student, why not take a little test right now? Consider, for example, the world’s ten most populous countries. Can you list all of them? And if you can, can you name the capital cities of each of them? I’m going to assume that you know the capital of China is Beijing, but what about India? Mumbai? Guess again.
Put your hand up if you know the capital of Brazil. Now put it down if you thought it was Rio de Janeiro—it’s actually Brasilia. Do you know the capital of Pakistan, the world’s sixth most populous country? How about Nigeria, the seventh? Can you name any cities in Nigeria?
Don’t get me wrong: I think world knowledge is important. But there is a lot more to knowing about the world than knowing game-show style trivia. It’s more important to me that people know more about efforts to reduce poverty in Bangladesh than the fact that its capital is Dhaka.
Let’s hope they are studying that at Harvard. And everywhere else.
Todd Pettigrew is an associate professor of English at Cape Breton University.
Dean Mortensen left a pub in ’92 and was never seen again
Dean Mortensen grew up in Grande Cache, a coal-mining town four hours west of Edmonton. He played hockey every winter (defence) and graduated at the top of his class. In his first year at the University of Alberta, Mortensen lived at St. Joseph’s College, patrolling the blue line for the Rangers, the dorm’s intramural hockey team. A poster of his favourite player—Steve Yzerman, captain of the Detroit Red Wings—hung on his wall.
“He was a super-bright guy, and really responsible,” says Stephen Beland, a lifelong friend whose room was just down the hall. “He was the only guy in the whole dorm who made his bed every day.”
Economist says federal tuition credits aren’t working
Many families with university or college students get a rare bit of good news around tax time. They find out students are eligible for tuition tax credits worth an average of $2,000 per year that can be transferred to parents in the likely event the student hasn’t made enough money to pay taxes. Students who don’t want to share or whose parents don’t earn much can save them up and get a break on income taxes when they start working full-time. It’s a big break. So big, in fact, that it can amount to between 31 percent and 43 percent off tuition, depending on the province. How many people know they exist before starting school? Surprisingly, no one knows how many.
It almost makes you wonder why the government doesn’t just give students the money before they pay tuition. The C.D. Howe Institute, a non-partisan think tank, wonders about the same thing. Christine Neill, a Wilfrid Laurier University economist, has written a commentary on the $1.6-billion of education tax credits the federal government hands out each year. Amazingly, she says it’s the first real analysis of them, despite various iterations of the credits being around for decades.
After BlackBerry layoffs, career fair attracts more than 700
WATERLOO, Ont. – After BlackBerry helped build its reputation as the epicentre of Canada’s technology sector, Waterloo, Ont., is working against the odds to find jobs for hundreds of employees who have been laid off by the smartphone company.
At a convention centre on the outskirts of the city, nearly 700 people — about half of them former BlackBerry staff — gathered at a technology jobs fair this week where they hoped to find a position at another company.
But the overwhelming attendance suggested that most would face disappointment.
“My goal is to try and meet with prospective employers,” said Mike Holownych, a Kitchener, Ont., resident who lost his job with BlackBerry in 2012 but wants to stay in the region.
“I’ve been looking in the tech sector since August of last year. Most of the interest I’ve been getting has been outside of the area, both in Toronto and in the states.”
Where smoking is outlawed it does more harm than good
Students at the University of Prince Edward Island are pushing to ban smoking on campus. Cigarettes, they say, are not only deadly for the poor schmucks who choose to light up but also harmful to the non-smoking citizens forced to walk through their carcinogenic clouds. The student union, reasonably enough, wants a plebiscite.
I’m not a smoker. I think unwanted cigarette smoke is annoying and gross. Ontario’s government must have polling showing many people feel the same way or they wouldn’t have, just yesterday, banned smoking outside at restaurants and bars. I can think of more useful things for the province to do (for example, working on the deficit) but research has shown that smoke doesn’t easily dissipate outside on patios when people are sitting so at least there’s science behind the policy.
But that’s as far as it should go. Campus-wide bans are pointless, draconian and unnecessary.
How easy is it to hand in a paper you didn’t write?
I approached the shop on Yonge Street a little nervous, uncertain of what I’d find. Chain-smoking felons? Security dogs?
I found a clean store staffed by an intelligent, personable man named Mike. I told him I wanted a run-down. He said that master’s graduates write all the essays and they have a writer for each subject, from biology to philosophy. He showed me a database on his computer screen with at least 30 names. I asked how many customers he had and he showed me a weekly schedule that appeared to show more than 25 essays per week. The price was normally $30 per page but would only be $25 per page for me since there was a promotion that day and I was wiling to wait five days. Next-day service was still $35 per page.
Mike wouldn’t answer me about whether I would be cheating if I handed in the essay as my own.
“We don’t really have that conversation here,” he said. “It’s all original work; it’s not plagiarized.”
Big ideas from Switzerland, Tennessee, Israel and Australia
Canada has fallen behind or is at risk of falling behind other countries in education and training if we don’t get our act together. That was a common theme at two conferences last week in Toronto, one hosted by The Conference Board of Canada, which is developing a Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, and the other by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial agency that does research and offers policy advice to government. Speakers from several countries offered innovative ideas worth considering. Here are four of the most intriguing.
Switzerland streams into vocations
The Swiss government encourages apprenticeships and, unlike in Canada, 40 per cent of companies take them on. Many high school students are streamed into vocations starting at age 11 or 12 and are in factories or offices getting job experience by 15 or 16. “In Canada, if you have a university degree you’re somebody [but] vocational not so much,” said Urs Obrist, an Embassy of Switzerland expert who spoke at the CBOC conference. In Switzerland, he said, people accept that, “some horses are work horses, some are show jumpers and some are race horses.” However, the system is flexible enough that “late bloomers” can change streams. He pointed out that Switzerland has a very low youth unemployment rate. In 2012, 8.4 per cent of Swiss aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, the second lowest among 33 rich countries. Canada was 12th at 14.3 per cent.
Millennial workers are young and restless but essential
Jason Dorsey was at a conference for fast-food franchisees last week, when a restaurant owner told him about being berated by the parent of a young employee after giving that worker a poor performance review. As a keynote speaker, Dorsey asked how many other employers had dealt with interfering parents. Roughly 45 of the 300 attendees threw up their hands. “The franchisees in that room have been in this business a long time, and they were complaining because they’ve never seen anything like this,” says Dorsey, 35, a consultant based in Austin, Texas, who advises companies on retaining millennials—one of the kinder terms ascribed to the Generation Y cohort born during the early 1980s or later.
Gen Y has been described as “Generation Me” in a book by the same title. The New York Times labelled the group ““Generation Why Bother” in a harsh op-ed that criticized its members for staying home and checking Facebook instead of getting a driver’s licence and looking for work. A quick Google search also yields widely held stereotypes of millennials as coddled and entitled, shunning entry-level jobs, craving lots of vacation time and expecting to be CEOs within their first week at work.
McMaster students stood up for 11 a.m. moment of silence
One of the tensest moments of my first year at McMaster University didn’t happen when I was writing exams or fighting with my roommate or handing in a late assignment. It happened on Nov. 11, 2009 when I was sitting in the musty basement lecture hall of an old arts building on campus.
The English professor started lecturing at 10:30 a.m. When 11 a.m. rolled around, the time traditionally reserved as a minute of silence in respect for those affected by war—through combat or collateral—a student raised her hand.
“Shouldn’t we stop lecture for a minute right now?” she said, and outlined her case: that would be the most respectful thing to do.
A long, awkward silence fell over the large hall. Then, the professor said no. I don’t remember her reason, exactly. It was a convoluted argument about respecting her lecture in the academic space and not interrupting it by glorifying war. She was very against recognizing the moment.
Kenney: training funds can’t go to “habitual welfare recipients”
OTTAWA – The federal government’s Canada Job Grant proposals are in trouble, officials and opposition critics are warning on the eve of Jason Kenney’s meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts.
Seven months after Ottawa first proposed the program in its March 2013 budget, the minister of employment and social development can expect a litany of complaints when he sits down with his colleagues in Toronto on Friday.
Quebec has even threatened to opt out of the program.
“They’re out on a branch on this one, a very fragile branch,” Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities, said this week.
Provinces and territories are particularly opposed to Kenney’s plan to slice $300 million — about 60 per cent — from the so-called Labour Market Agreement implemented by the Conservatives in 2007.
That initiative provides funds to train unemployed workers not eligible for employment insurance and is aimed at aboriginals, immigrants, women, youth, older workers, people with disabilities and those with low literacy levels.
“They’re planning on funding this Canada Job Grant on the backs of our most vulnerable workers,” said Duguid, adding that the program would leave Ontario on the hook for $232 million.
Marks needed to get into university keep going up
The average grade of high school students entering universities in their home provinces hit 85% in 2012, according to data from 48 universities published in the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings. The 2008 Maclean’s University Rankings, which used grade data mostly from 2007, showed an entering average of 83% across 42 universities. That’s an increase of two per cent in five years.
There are surprising regional differences too. Only four of the 42 schools considered in the 2008 rankings had lower entering grades in 2012 but three of them were in Quebec: Montréal, Sherbrooke and Bishop’s. The fourth was Saint Mary’s in Halifax, N.S. And only four schools improved their average grades by more than three per cent. Again, a regional pattern emerges: three out of four are in British Columbia: UBC, UNBC and SFU. The fourth is Waterloo. Particularly eye-catching is the number of students at these schools with averages of more than 90%. At UBC the proportion with 90% or higher went from 30.8% in 2007 to 54.1% in 2012; at UNBC from 19.3% to 34.1%; at SFU it from 15.7% to 39.5% and at Waterloo from 26.5% to 44.8%
Why I side with students who won’t wear the red poppy
Students at the University of Ottawa came under fire this week for supporting the white poppy campaign, a drive to get people to wear a white poppy rather than the traditional red one, on the grounds that the red poppy can be seen as a tacit support of war itself. Since white is traditionally associated with peace, the white poppy is meant to meant to support remembrance but with an emphasis on peace rather than war itself.
This piece in The Toronto Sun sneers at students for “hopping aboard” a “left wing” bandwagon. The Minister of Veterans Affairs jumped in too, calling the campaign “totally disrespectful.” Meanwhile, over at the National Post, Matt Gurney claims that the “very existence” of the campaign “is insulting by its implication that the red poppy glorifies war.”
Too bad. The red poppy does glorify war. And it has been so successful in doing so that it seems as though its supporters don’t even realize they are doing it. Celyn Dufay, the Ottawa student at the centre of this imbroglio is quite right in explaining, simply enough, “we want to work for peace.”
Academics report trouble getting data
VANCOUVER – A new report says Canada is at risk of losing its world-leader status on ocean science.
The report for the Council of Canadian Academies says funding for ocean science is actually increasing, contrary to perception, but limitations on access to data and information reduce the usefulness of research being done by governments, universities and industry.
David Strangway, chairman of the expert panel and former president of the University of British Columbia, says Canada, with more coastline than any nation in the world, is a steward of the ocean and its activities have an impact on the rest of the world.
The report says Canada has invested in some world-class ocean monitoring, but has an aging research fleet.
This country has been among the top countries for producing ocean research, but that could change.
Strangway says investing in ocean science is an opportunity and a necessity for Canada.
Don’t let careerist naysayers derail your dreams
If you are a university student or a university-bound high school student you probably have the impression, thanks to Canadian media and possibly your parents, that the future is bleak. They would have you believe that learning for learning’s sake is a waste of time and picking a potentially lucrative major is not. There are no jobs, they warn, certainly not in art history or philosophy or whatever allegedly dead-end major you plan to pursue—so you may as well learn something “useful.” They are right about jobs. The future, not to mention the present, is bleak. Youth unemployment in Canada is exceedingly high; in Ontario, according to a September report, one in two persons between 15 and 24 has a paid job—the worst ratio we’ve seen since Statistics Canada began recording the numbers in 1976.
Mounties release sketch of man suspected in six assaults
VANCOUVER – Mounties have released a composite sketch of the man believed to be behind six sexual assaults since April at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The sketch shows a Caucasian man wearing a hooded sweater, with an olive or darker skin tone, a rounder chin, broad forehead, straight nose and short dark hair.
All six victims were walking alone late at night when they were jumped from behind and groped, and one was punched in the face.
Three of the attacks occurred in October, one was reported in late September and investigators announced last month that separate incidents in April and May are also connected.
UBC President Stephen Toope says the attacks are an extremely unusual occurrence on what he calls one of the safest campuses in North America.
Liberals and NDP want to ditch “parental contributions”
Jesse LaPointe is no longer a third-year English major at St. Thomas University. He lives in an apartment in downtown Fredericton, N.B. with his single mother. He worked all summer every summer and almost 30 hours per week during the school year to try to pay for his education. This year, he decided to apply for a student loan to supplement his income so he could cover his tuition. The loan only came to $2,000 which would not even cover half of his $5,195 tuition cost, never mind mandatory fees and living expenses. The reason? LaPointe’s student loan assessment said his mother was required to cough up $4,000.
“She works like a dog… Still, I can’t see any possible reality where she can fork up $4,000,” he says. He was forced to drop out of university in October. He will take a year off to work and try for a loan again next year but, at this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty. “I’ll try my luck,” he says.