One thing is for sure: there is no lack of debate about what Canadians should be doing with our oil resources. Some suggest all of it should be kept for Canadians to use exclusively. Others suggest only refined products should be sold outside of Canada. Others say let the markets decide where and what should be sold outside of the country.
Whichever side of the debate you might find yourself, many Canadians will agree that the revenues we generate now should be used, at least in part, to prepare for the future.
So how do we translate our strong natural resource economy into long term success? As Jeremy Torobin, a writer on the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab blog, notes, we must create “an adaptable, highly educated and highly skilled work force that can adapt quickly to fill a variety of needs.”
Some business leaders have called for a renewed focus on technical trade skills training and professional services education. An emphasis on developing the skills necessary for innovation, and to take advantage of opportunities presented by emerging markets, should lead to economic stability as our economy changes over time.
A new study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), examined by Torobin on the Economy Lab blog, stands tall in its praise for Canadians’ ability to use our oil resource gains to educate ourselves for the future.
The study looked at the results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and found that Canada, along with Australia and Norway, outperforms almost all of the other oil producing nations.
“Canada is among a select group of countries positioned to prosper even some time way down the road, when finite resources like oil start to become less important to the economy,” wrote Torobin.
It’s good that Canadians are focused on education for the future. As the study’s author originally noted: “Without sufficient investment in skills, people languish on the margins of society, technological progress does not translate into productivity growth, and countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy.”