York is embracing a bold vision for the future of higher education, and our alumni have an important role to play in bringing this vision to life. York’s success rests on four pillars: access, connectedness, excellence and impact. By looking towards the emerging needs of our students, our graduates and the communities we serve, we are strengthening these pillars in partnership with our alumni family.
There is no question that the world of work is undergoing a significant change. Research by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship estimates that 50 per cent of current jobs will be impacted by automation and artificial intelligence. Given the rapid rate of technological innovation, many future careers have not even been imagined, much less created. But whatever those new jobs are, it is more than likely that they will require some form of post-secondary education.
In this context, universities have never been more important. But we will not be able to meet future needs by relying exclusively on traditional methods of higher education. We need to evolve the ways universities teach and students learn to meet the demands of the global knowledge economy.
York is taking the lead in changing what we teach. Programs like Disaster & Emergency Management – profiled in this issue – respond directly to emerging needs in society and the workforce. Offered at the bachelor and master’s level, this new program is the first of its kind in Canada. It demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that our students benefit from educational experiences that are relevant in today’s workforce, while preparing them for future opportunities.
We are also changing how we teach. York is working to embed experiential learning – such as internships, co-ops or similar opportunities – into all of our programs. We are also putting innovation and entrepreneurship at the centre of the student experience. Our LaunchYU program now supports over 3,400 entrepreneurs, including students, faculty and members of the community.
Finally, York is changing the way we think about the educational journey of our students. In a world defined by rapid change, the traditional pathway – where higher education means a four-year degree completed as a young adult – is obsolete. To thrive in the knowledge economy, individuals will need to acquire new skills and competencies throughout their careers, jumping in and out of post-secondary education as needed. York is making lifelong learning a priority with flexible learning options and an expansion of our School of Continuing Studies.
So where do alumni fit into this vision? As always, you have the opportunity to mentor our students and graduates, helping them navigate a complicated workforce. As you take on leadership roles in your career, you can also create new co-ops, internships and other experiential learning opportunities to enrich the educational experience of York students. Please know that York will also be there for you throughout your own working life. If you need a new skill to advance in your career or would like to transition into a new career entirely, I hope you will take advantage of our lifelong learning options.