The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Disruption Series kicked off this afternoon with a keynote speech by British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) President Kathy Kinloch. Kinloch proposed the series as a means of opening up a dialogue with Vancouver-based businesses about how to respond intelligently to technological and economic disruption.
In her keynote address, Kinloch highlighted the opportunities for industry to partner with BCIT to build a workforce with the technical proficiency and problem-solving ability needed to help businesses succeed—or even stay relevant—in a rapidly changing business environment.
“In ten years, 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist,” says Kinloch. “That’s nearly half of the companies that drive today’s global economy.”
But this new environment also presents opportunities. BCIT grads can help turn disruption to success, Kinloch says, thanks to their capacity to understand and embrace new and emerging technologies. “It’s no secret that our students are often hired before they graduate, and no surprise given the essential skills in their toolbox.”
Today’s event also included a panel discussion on the possibilities of disruptive technology, featuring Kinloch, computer scientist and recent BCIT graduate Nadia Dobrianskaia, and the President and CEO of the Vancouver-based online home improvement company BuildDirect, Jeff Booth.
Booth stressed that exponential increases in technology have led him to seek out employees who have even more to offer than advanced IT skills.
“We need people who can ask bigger questions,” says Booth. “People who can ask, ‘How does this change everything I take for granted?’ ‘What don’t I know?’”
According to the panel’s moderator, President and CEO of Lifelabs Medical Laboratory Services Sue Paish, this is precisely what BCIT graduates have to offer.
“We find that when we hire BCIT grads, we get people who are exceptionally well skilled,” Paish says. “We also get people who have an ability to be agile and an ability to ask, ‘What if?’ or ‘What would it take?’ rather than saying ‘we can’t.’ In our business, that’s what we need.”
So what’s next? Kinloch closed her remarks by inviting industry to work with BCIT to identify emerging fields in which advanced training is needed. As she puts it: “BCIT is open for business.”