Mississauga Summit talks postsecondary education

The third annual Mississauga Summit took place at the Instructional Centre last Tuesday.

The central theme of this year’s event was promoting civic engagement around five key issues: job creation, waterfront and environmental conservation, postsecondary education strategy, diversity and immigration, and innovation.

Deep Saini (UTM’s vice president and principal), Shelley White (CEO of United Way Peel), and Brian Crombie (the co-chair of the Mississauga Summit) gave an official welcome to the packed auditorium of various business and community players, members of UTMSU, and other students.

In his speech, professor David Wolfe emphasized the need to empower youth and community. “What’s needed is for individuals to step forward, but first we need leaders to make that happen,” Wolfe said. “Public investment is the cornerstone for future development.”

The Post-Secondary Task Force, composed of the Mississauga Innovation Leadership Alliance (which includes the RIC Centre, Mississauga Economic Development Office, Mississauga Board of Trade, the UTM Institute for Management and Innovation, and professors from both UTM and Sheridan College), highlighted the challenges the next crop of postsecondary graduates will encounter when they enter the workforce.

Speakers from the Human Services Task Force argued that innovative change could be achieved at the individual level, but that there is a need for senior, influential leaders to step up to the plate and to put their time and effort into mentoring, with postsecondary institutions connecting the ideas, community, and political actors.

“We try to identify every organization invested in community development efforts and try to bring these organizations together and develop a common plan to decide and identify what we’re going to do in collaboration and what each group’s going to do on their own.”

“We recognize that government alone cannot solve the problem of unemployment,” said the speaker for the night’s final Task Force panel, Mississauga Works. “The issues coming out of these summits are concerns about high unemployment and a need to understand these challenges, especially for youth and newcomers. Diversity is quite present here in Mississauga,  not just about money, but from an economic perspective. When skilled immigrants bring talent, creativity, and innovation, they also bring their ideas and positive change to this city. Cultivating connections between various stakeholders, including collaboration between the city and employers, can sponsor the new job flow into well-paying, long term employment.”

The summit culminated with a crowd-rousing speech by Mississauga’s mayor, Hazel McCallion, who received a standing ovation for her many years of dedication to promoting and developing the city as an “innovation centre”.

“Many of the ideas that came forward tonight can be implemented with very little money, but still, a lot of it needs a lot of funding. This summit has generated inspiration to the staff at the city, and for me and Council to get on with these tasks,” McCallion said. “But we need far more involvement of citizens—far more involvement in all aspects of the challenges and the big ideas. I am impressed with how our educational institutions work with the City of Mississauga, and we in turn with them on the campuses of UTM, Sheridan College, and with the students—the needed human resources we need in this city. I’m delighted to share with you that the innovation centre we are coming up with is going to deal with the human resources economic base that we have now and the planning that’s coming on its way.”

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