Get smart

What do the results of the Composite Learning Index tell us.

Canada’s progress on the Composite Learning Index (CLI) is at a stand still in 2010, and there has only been marginal progress over the past five years, according to the latest results from the Canadian Council on Learning’s annual measure of lifelong learning.

The figures indicate a state of stagnation if nothing else. Although there is some good news about Atlantic Canada, the improvements are not in Nova Scotia.

The 2010 results also reveal that communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and PrinceEdward Island are improving at greater rates than other provinces in Canada, resulting in a narrowing of the CLI gap between eastern and western Canada.

The west still does better. Why is that? Something in the water out there? Maybe an attitude?

Victoria leads all other major Canadian cities on the 2010 CLI, with a score of 95—the highest score for a major city in the history of the index. Saskatoon came in second with a score of 90, followed by Calgary (88), Ottawa (87) and Regina (84).  (See CLI Backgrounder for a list of the top 10 major cities in Canada.)

This part in the report is worrying.
The CLI shows that Saguenay (63), Trois-Rivières (65), Cape Breton (68), rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, and small towns in Nova Scotia are communities that are at-risk with regards to lifelong learning. These communities continue to have CLI scores that are not only significantly below the national average but have also been declining over the last five years. [emph ours]
With a score of 83, Halifax placed sixth on a list of nearly 40 major cities in Canada on the 2010 CLI—Canada’s annual index of lifelong learning—and was the only city in Atlantic Canada to appear on the Top 10.
One of the chief ways they do this is through a unique program called Smart Business, an initiative of the Greater Halifax Partnership a public-private organization that supports economic growth in the city.
Perhaps there is something Windsor/Wolfville/Kentville could learn from that?
Since 2004 Smart Business has been working with business leaders (more than 1,800 to date) to help zero in on issues that they feel are slowing their growth and progress.
Often their issues revolve around training and the labour force,” says Fred Morley, Executive Vice-President and Chief Economist for the Greater Halifax Partnership. “One of the big questions we ask is: ‘Do you have a human resources strategy?’ The answer is often ‘no.’” The solution? An alliance with Halifax’s post-secondary school system and Nova Scotia Community College that effectively directly plugged the business world into a hugely rich source of labour. This symbiotic relationship between Halifax’s business and education sectors is just one of the reasons the provincial capital has made such a strong performance on this year’s Composite Learning Index (CLI).

It’s not just about business though.

The same ties that bind businesses to post-secondary education are mimicked when it comes to infusing talent into the vibrant cultural scene in Halifax, another area that scored high in the CLI. The proportion of Haligonians who are exposed to the performing arts has risen steadily in every year of the CLI, from 36% in 2006 to 44% in 2010. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has lived in the city, which is a breeding ground for countless performers including the likes of Ellen Page, Sarah McLachlan and Jay Ferguson (of the band Sloan).

Halifax also prides itself on the strong relationship it has nurtured between music programs at the area’s universities and the city’s symphony orchestra.

This sort of initiative (with its fairly specific measurements year after year) makes a lot more sense to us than the rather vague vital signs/community foundation data which has had such profile here lately and which tells us what? Councillors take note:

The Composite Learning Index holds significant promise for municipalities and organizations that are looking for ways to harness the social and economic potential of learning in their communities and regions. CCL’s Monitoring and Reporting department can help your organization make the most of its learning opportunities. Contact us to enquire about the range of services we offer.

Seems it would be a good fit for Wolfville since the town is supposed to be a centre of learning in the area. Can we use this to benefit our town?

Time we did something Wolfville and our other small towns will die a slow death, and that’s dumb.

Explore the economic motion charts for the Valley

CCL developed these online motion charts in 2009 to help explore the relationship between learning and the economy over time and across Canada. These interactive graphs (one for cities and one for regions) give users the ability to explore the interactions between CLI results, economic indicators, population size and geographic location, and the industrial profile of a community.

Questions to keep in mind when using the motion charts.

  1. Can a region with a high CLI score better withstand the impact of economic turbulence?
  2. As the economy recovers, will the economic indicators of a region with a higher CLI score improve more rapidly than one with a lower CLI score?
  3. How can communities use the CLI, even in periods of economic turbulence, as a decision-making tool for taking stock of their learning assets in order to enhance their citizen’s quality of life?


One response to “Get smart

  1. William Zimmerman

    Please note, I believe the CLI is in fact for the entire valley although it looks like it is specifically for Wolfville. The Vital Signs people went to great lengths (not always with a satisfactory result because the data isn’t available from Stats Can) to get data for just Wolfville.