(Reduction of Labour Outlook Report)
Countless stories abound in the news about the uselessness of a degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences but research indicates those claims are false.
Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, literacy, and team work are the skills BC employers are looking for and believe are in short supply. Importantly, employers identify these essential skills as the foundation of business and industry’s ability to adapt and be innovative in a world of constantly evolving technology.
In order to meet these current and future demands, the Conference Board of Canada suggests that educational institutions should modify their programs.
The Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities would help Langara prepare students to meet these employability demands.
Conference Board of Canada says: Employers are also concerned about deficits in essential skills in the workforce, especially critical thinking and problem-solving (73 per cent), oral communication (38 per cent), literacy (36 per cent), and working with others (33 per cent). Critically, B.C. employers note that they are looking not simply for people to fill specific jobs, but employees with the essential skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to learn and adapt to changing circumstances, innovate and help pursue new opportunities, and address emerging challenges.
George Anders, “That “Useless” Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket. Forbes, last modified July 29, 2015 http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2015/07/29/liberal-arts-degree-tech/#378d930a5a75
Excerpt: And he’s far from alone. Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex., software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger. … The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.
Susan Adams, “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want in 2015 Graduates,” Forbes, last modified November 12, 2014 http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/11/12/the-10-skills-employers-most-want-in-2015-graduates/#70061f8519f6
Excerpt: The good news for grads: No matter what you have studied in school, whether anthropology or French or computer science, you will have had to learn the top five skills on the list. The trick is to demonstrate that you have those skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview. Think about class projects where you have been a team member or leader and jobs where you have had to plan and prioritize. Describe those skills specifically in your résumé and cover letter and in your job interview.
“Employers Value Soft Skills, but Don’t Seek Them Out, Expert Says. cbcnew.ca, last modified September 16, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/employers-value-soft-skills-but-don-t-seek-them-out-expert-says-1.3230939
Excerpt: That “strong emotional IQ” learned in the liberal arts plays a crucial part in good team work. It teaches creative and critical thinking, along with communication skills.
Steven Pearlstein, “Meet the Parents Who Won’t Let Their Children Study Literature,” The Washington Post, last modified September 2, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/02/meet-the-parents-who-wont-let-their-children-study-literature/?utm_term=.363e7240d47a
Excerpt: In today’s fast-changing global economy, the most successful enterprises aren’t looking for workers who know a lot about only one thing. They are seeking employees who are nimble, curious and innovative. The work done by lower-level accountants, computer programmers, engineers, lawyers and financial analysts is already being outsourced to India and the Philippines; soon it will be done by computers. The good jobs of the future will go to those who can collaborate widely, think broadly and challenge conventional wisdom — precisely the capacities that a liberal arts education is meant to develop.
Stephen J. Toope, “We Can No Longer Overlook Innovation’s Human Dimension,” Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Last modified July 6, 2016, http://www.ideas-idees.ca/blog/we-can-no-longer-overlook-innovations-human-dimension
Excerpt: Our challenge is not only to adapt to this era of change, but to take advantage of it in order to create a more prosperous and more equitable world. This will require comprehensive innovation, both in commercial markets and in broader society. And in each of these areas, knowledge of human behaviour, relationships, and institutions will be key.
As any entrepreneur knows, commercializing new technologies requires considerable skill and knowledge in social and artistic areas. Consider, for instance, the design skills required to create appealing consumer products or effective software interfaces; the psychology and communications knowledge needed for effective marketing and well-functioning employee teams; or the language skills and cultural understanding needed to access new local and global markets. Each of these elements is critical for commercial success, and none of them can be addressed by technological innovation alone.
And the importance of human interactions will only grow as our economy becomes more and more focused on services. Service industries now make up more than 70 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and three out of Canada’s top five fastest-growing exports in the past decade were services, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
In fact, we may have been under appreciating the contributions of human-focused innovation for years. A recent report published by the University of Toronto called “Losing Count” argues that Canada has failed to fully account for private-sector spending on research and development in the humanities and social sciences, despite the OECD’s guidelines to include such measures in R&D accounts.
Adam Chapnick, “Arts Advantage: Why Enrolling in the Liberal Arts is Smarter than You Think,” Literary Arts Review of Canada, Last modified May 2015 http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2015/05/arts-advantage-2/
Excerpt: So what is really happening? How can we explain the increasing negativity with which a liberal arts degree seems to be viewed by university applicants and public officials given the clear opportunities that such an education represents?
For one, technological change has permanently altered the economic landscape more quickly than some of us anticipated, but not nearly as quickly as others have supposed. As machines displace lower skilled workers in a number of fields, new higher skilled analytical jobs are emerging to fix those machines, invent new ones and create new applications for them. As a result, innovation and problem-solving abilities now come at a premium.
University graduates, and especially those in the liberal arts, should, in such a context, be at a tremendous advantage. Their critical thinking, reading and writing abilities should make them indispensable. That is why some of them are doing so well, and many are in such high demand. One third of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies studied the liberal arts, for example. (Minister Kenney himself, who makes more than $200,000 per year as a member of the Cabinet, studied philosophy as an undergraduate.)
Canada, “Leveraging Knowledge for 21st Century Teaching and Learning: Insights and Opportunities for Knowledge Mobilization and Future Research,” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/society-societe/community-communite/ifca-iac/01-learning_report-apprentissage_rapport-eng.aspx#intro
Global trends confirm that 21st century learning is about developing the capacity and motivation to create, understand, interpret and communicate knowledge. It is about training for versatility and the ability to contribute that knowledge to increasingly complex, nonlinear issues.
Building interpersonal and intercultural sensitivities are among the critical “soft skills” competencies needed in our global economy.