By Dr. Larry Rosia, president and CEO
This is a special time of year for Saskatchewan Polytechnic and other post-secondary institutions across Canada. Spring convocations are underway.
At our six Convocation Ceremonies in the four communities that Sask Polytech serves, our students will receive diplomas, certificates and degrees, and we will honour outstanding achievements and contributions by students, faculty and community members.
Convocations are a time to celebrate and to reflect. I’d like to take this opportunity to share four pieces of advice to the Class of 2018:
1. You have the skills employers need
While convocation can bring great excitement, it can also bring a level of anxiety. Anxiety caused by the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds. Anxiety brought about by emerging technologies, demographic shifts, new ways of doing business and globalization, and other factors, which are shifting company business models and work methods in ways we could not have imagined even a decade ago.
It is true that some sectors of the Saskatchewan economy may be sluggish and some companies are cautious with hiring and recruitment. We have seen this before and we will most certainly see it again. But you should take heart. Sask Polytech’s focus on applied learning, our deep industry connections and expertise in applied research, means that our graduates are well equipped to enter the workforce with marketable skills.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic has a long and exceptional track record of helping graduates find employment. The most recent statistics show that 92 per cent of grads were employed within six months of graduation. As well, approximately 97 per cent of employers will hire a Sask Polytech grad again.
2. Celebrate your achievements
Graduation Day is an exciting time. You’ve worked hard, made incredible sacrifices and overcome myriad obstacles to graduate. The average age of a Sask Polytech student is 27, meaning many of you have had to balance jobs, families and studies to achieve your goals. You should be proud of this accomplishment.
So, celebrate, and remember to thank faculty and staff, but especially thank your families for the care and support they have provided to help you reach your goal.
3. Be lifelong learners
One of the most crucial messages I can share with you is the importance of lifelong learning. Some graduates will see the end of their formal classroom learning. Others may move on to take advantage of Sask Polytech’s transfer credit agreements and complete a degree. But even then, you should not consider your education “over.”
According to the World Economic Forum, workers will need to engage in lifelong learning if they are to achieve fulfilling and rewarding careers as the types of skills needed in the labour market continue to change. Reskilling, learning new skills to do new jobs, will be required, and that involves education.
Consider that automation is expected to impact at least 25 per cent of Canadian jobs in the next decade, according to a new RBC research paper. Equally sobering is a recent report on automation and workforce transitions by McKinsey Global Institute that shows anywhere between 75 million and 375 million workers worldwide will need to switch occupational categories by 2030.
Without reskilling, those in the workforce who do not keep pace may miss opportunities which others will seize. You should embrace any and all opportunities to learn new skills.
Because Sask Polytech works closely with business and industry and relies on a network of more than 700 professionals, from numerous industry sectors, our leading-edge programming is continuously updated and refreshed to ensure it remains relevant and meets employer needs well into the future.
4. Stay connected
With more than 30,000 Alumni around the world, Sask Polytech graduates play a major role in the health and vibrancy of the communities in which they live and work. As some of you have heard me say, Saskatchewan runs on Sask Polytech.
Sask Polytech Alumni are employed in virtually every sector of Saskatchewan’s economy, so it is important to stay connected. The great news is that you are automatically registered as Alumni. You now have access to career services and countless opportunities to network, mentor, volunteer and attend exclusive events. Keep your contact information up to date at alumni.saskpolytech.ca.
Yes, the world is changing—and quickly. Yet, as an educator, there is nothing more invigorating than watching you, our graduates, walk across the stage to receive your parchments. The fist pumps, high-fives and thundering applause from friends and family in the audience never gets old.
To the Class of 2018 at Sask Polytech, and every other post-secondary institution, celebrate your accomplishments. I wish for you every success throughout your future and in the career paths that await you.