It puzzles me to see how disengaged corporate Canada is from the needs of our future with regard to education and training and development yet so engaged when it comes to financial literacy. I have recently attended various conferences such as People for Education, OSAC (Ontario School Counsellors Association) and Talk With Our Kids About Money – Town Hall Meeting about financial literacy and engagement. I really enjoyed all three events.

I was so impressed yesterday to see the commitment Bank Of Montreal and organizations like Investor Education Fund (IEF) and agencies such are Credit Canada and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada are putting towards financial literacy recognizing the potential future economic, political and social crisis that faces our millennials if they do not begin to make better financial decisions. This will not only impact them today and for their future, there is a compound effect that will impact boomers and their nest egg for kids are living at home for up to 10 years following graduation from post-secondary because they cannot make ends meet; home purchases/mortgages – kids have huge student debt upon graduation that’s taking 10 to 15 years to pay off and the last thing on their minds is buying a home; inability or lack of desire to lease/buy a car – the cost is prohibitive due to student debt and not making ends meet; lack of business development – many millenials are finding themselves with poor credit ratings due to bad financial decisions, huge student debt, inability to pay off credit cards and/or paying bills late. This will impact their ability to borrow and set up lines of credit. All of this is adding up to a crisis.

Canada’s economic future is dependent on our youth becoming active participants in society — that includes paying taxes. If you do not have a job or a good paying one then you pay accordingly. It is our tax base that supports so many social programs that we as Canadians take for granted.

In our discussion yesterday at the Talk with our kids about money town hall meeting, there was a concensus of teaching our kids to understand Y financial literacy is so important, the value of teaching moments of what I call life lessons, stepping back and letting our children make mistakes when they are young, teaching our kids to ask good financial questions and challenge systems where appropriate, having helicopter parents step back and let your kids make decisions, engaging discussion about money and finances, sharing our own mistakes as parents, encouraging questions from our kids and most of all that it is a shared responsibility – children, parents, teachers, and corporate Canada, government and policy makers.

Just as an aside, I don’t think the youth know that they can challenge things for example their cell phone package to see if there is a better data plan that is less expensive so they are not always paying overage or comparing other plans and then going back to your provider to ask them to match the price. This is a life skill and one that can be incorporated into every day action/choices. First our youth need to learn how to ask better questions. This will benefit the larger choices such as which post-secondary school or program to attend based on a return on investment (ROI) of education.

While corporate Canada has taken such a prominent role with financial literacy where are they when it comes to education and training and development? Profits are relatively good yet corporate Canada is refusing to invest in our future — one of our most precious assets. Countries life Switzerland see youth differently. They recognize and see them as national treasures. In Canada we toss asside our youth calling the older millennials “the lost generation”. This is unacceptable.

In order for us to provide our youth with a meaningful and impactful educational experience we need to make it relevant. In order to do so we need to prepare through higher learning and applied techniques the future skill sets required for the next 10-15 years. I have been quite involved at looking at what the Ontario Ministry of Education and their respective boards wish to do when it comes to helping our youth with preparing them for a successful career pathways to success and while their intentions are pure and good there are missing links. One of the missing links is the engagement and collaboration with corporate Canada. In Switzerland there is such a strong tie and collaborative effort between the government, industries, education, teachers, students and parents. They have an excellent apprenticeship program of over 230 areas which tie in all levels of the coporate world from the traditional hands-on to banking, health care and IT.

I wish to change this.

For Canada to thrive economically, politically and socially we need to bridge gaps, shift paradigms and come together with a collective desire to invest in our future leaders: train, develop, ensure transferance of skills and knowledge from the older generations to the younger ones, evaluate current systems to see what is relevant, ensure that skills sets including life and soft skills are being taught within the education system, at home and then later in the work environment.

Corporate Canada is on a path that is disengaging and isolating our youth. Keep in mind that the millennial youth represent your future market; saddled in student debt, poor credit rating, and inability to purchase the larger ticket items (homes, cars, etc.) will have a great impact on your bottom line.

It’s time to remove the curtain and see the trees through forest.

It’s time to work together. This equation must also include unions which can impact the outcome. While Corporat Canada needs to come to the table so do unions. All systems need to be evaluated, asked what is their purpose and then determine what is relevant, sustainable and executable for today.

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