This week, I attended the Career Education Society Conference in Vancouver, and once again, it was a fabulous event. I am pictured at right with Jessi Zielke, CES’s Executive Director. The Career Education Society represents career educators from kindergarten to grade 12. ASPECT's presence at the conference is crucial for understanding the full workforce development spectrum to inform our advocacy work. We maintain a friendly relationship with CES and the BC Career Development Association, sharing our associations' activities, reciprocal memberships and open communication, looking for ways to support each other. Thanks to Jessi for hosting me at the CES conference this year, and kudos to her board and team for an excellent event.
At the conference, I attended two sessions presented by the Ministry of Education and Child Care. One was about the dual credit (high school – post-secondary) program and some of the policy changes they are making to remove barriers for students. The second was an overview of the government's StrongerBC Future-Ready Action Plan: K-12 Career Connections. I was delighted by the conference delegates asking pointed questions about how the programs worked and suggesting improvements. The government presenters were receptive and genuinely welcomed the feedback.
I also attended a fascinating session about artificial intelligence and the future of the labour market. It was surprising that the employer representatives on the panel admitted that they were surprised by the speed at which AI is being applied to the workforce and a little flummoxed by what to expect in the coming two years. We've heard the claim that many of the future jobs have not been invented yet, but hearing business leaders talk about it made an impact on me.
One job that created an interesting conversation was the need for content creators for social media, a job with the potential for significant growth. As someone who entered the workforce in the 80s, I am regularly shocked and intrigued by how quickly the labour market is changing. The race to apply AI tech to new positions makes community-based employability trainers a crucial part of preparing the provincial population for the new workforce. Post-secondary institutions do a good job, but no one moves as quickly to respond to labour market needs as community employability trainers, filling the gaps from one step to another. I hope funders and politicians do not forget how to rely on our sector to keep things moving toward the future and avoid thinking that AI and technology will solve all the workforce and economic challenges ahead. Not everyone has the skills, competencies, and resilience needed to thrive in future work, and that's how our sector helps.
Janet Morris-Reade, CEO