Expert tells Sheridan to diversify globally for its future

During a break from handing out insight and expertise to future CEOs at a Sheridan College forum, economics expert and U of T professor emeritus took a moment to pass along a few tips to about cashing in on global enrolment.

University of Toronto economics expert David Foot spoke Thursday at Sheridan College’s Virox Future Forum, offering real-world big business expertise to soon-to-be graduates.

He was one of two featured speakers at the fifth-annual event on Sheridan’s Mississauga campus, organized by Virox president and CEO Randy Pilon. Virox is an Oakville company that cashed in on the disinfectant and sanitizer craze.

In addition to giving advice he also offered some insight into the future of global enrolment in post-secondary education.

After expanding to accommodate the Echo generation (children of Baby Boomers), many educational institutions will find themselves with room for more international enrolment as the largest student body of Echos graduates in 2013.

Recently constructed buildings and expansion projects will create a substantial opportunity for Sheridan and UTM to become global. “We’ll be able to fill those empty seats with people from other countries and educate them here” Foot told “That way we’ll export educational services.”

The economist and demographics expert also noted international students coming from emerging markets make financial sense because they tend to pay higher fees. But, he points out, they’ll likely be speaking Spanish and Canada doesn’t have many leading-edge Spanish speakers currently in our classrooms.

“If you’re going to take post-secondary education global,” Foot said. “You’ve got to think about the diversity of cultures and languages.”

While Sheridan has been public about its plans for expansion into China and India, Foot recommended watching out for Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam and Turkey. “They are all countries that will have lots of young people that will need education that will have rising per capita incomes that will be able to send their children here,” he said.

Sheridan recently announced $72 million coming from the province to expand its Mississauga campus.

For the students in attendance who were looking for useful, simple advice to take with them into the business world, Foot did not disappoint.

“The best thing to do is to get something productive on your vitae,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be paid but it helps if it is paid to help pay down your student loans.”

He also recommended taking lots of opportunities while you can and not complaining about it. “You’re not going to start at the top and the people there don’t think you should,” he said. “Many of them are 45 and they went through hell and they’re going to make sure you go through hell before you pass them.”

And while contract positions may appear unstable, Foot said they are the perfect career move for someone in their twenties. “It shows your ability to be flexible and in multiple places.” he said. “You can afford to be mobile in your twenties and travel. So go to Alberta, get a job, come home.”

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