Wow! What a day of learning, sharing and connecting here in Halifax at the Atlantic Talent Summit. The takeaways are bubbling over. There were employers from a wide cross-section of industry present covering a diversity of national and international operating locations. We had a broad cross-section of representatives from post-secondary as well including career and co-op representatives.
One of my key takeaways was the prominence of the diversity conversation throughout the whole day. It is a tremendous priority, but not without challenges. Diversity and inclusion were referenced in almost every session and in all of its myriad ways. This included aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, persons with disabilities as well as the need to hire for thought diversity. The numerous specific exchanges on how to advance the cause of increasing the number of persons with disabilities employed in the marketplace highlighted that hiring in this arena is ripe for huge change. It is the right thing to do as well as the smart thing to do. What emerged is that not all employers feel like they know where to go or how to connect better with this population. Stay tuned for further discussions from CACEE on this.
We also heard a lot from employers about the new talent they are trying to attract – specifically what they are looking for in a new employer. Both large and small firms highlighted the importance of true corporate citizenship, civic minded community involvement, quick feedback and being involved in projects that have real meaning. In addition, they highlighted the importance of training opportunities and mentoring to connect and integrate new hires into the different levels of their organizations.
Employers talked about their pain points too. In particular two received substantial discussion. The first was the need for universities to be more responsive and less bureaucratic in how they engage with employers and the second was about the importance of communication and that all new talent should be continually looking to keep improving in this critical area. It was also unanimously agreed to be of importance by all for students to stay up on current events – and as offered by a soon-to-be graduate – “Instagram doesn’t count”.
The President of St. Mary’s University, Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, in Halifax offered closing remarks. In his comments he shared his perspective that there is an “increasing permeability of the link between academics and work” and spoke at length about the conversations that are happening within the academy at the individual, provincial and national level about this. This isn’t new information to many who have been working on the work-integrated learning front for many years, but this conversation is also happening at the highest levels within institutions of higher learning – both universities and colleges.
A huge thanks for the volunteers of the CACEE Atlantic Regional Advisory Board for organizing this fantastic event! The content, the insights and the ideas represent value to any audience interested in these issues. Can’t wait until next year’s event!