I have always been a fan of the way that Quebec creates a level playing field for young people. Regardless of one’s family circumstances, Quebecers go out of their way to give young people a chance at achieving their dreams. Having lived in and outside of Quebec, this attribute stands out more than any other, especially in Gatineau – from their sports and academia to culture and even politics.
In my mind, the biggest differentiator is the role of the community college (CEGEP). With 2-year pre-university, and 3-year career-oriented programs, students are provided with an opportunity to get a high-quality education that is within the reach of youth from even the most modest of backgrounds (about $400/year). Regardless of the program, all students are exposed to literature, philosophy, and even physical education. They finish programs with a college diploma and are ready to face the world with a well-rounded education (and in general, with extremely well-developed analysis and writing skills for their age).
In the interest of continuous improvement and innovation, Quebec has taken the role of the community college to the next level by creating the Collegiate Centres for Transfer of Technologies (CCTT). From modern farming to cybersecurity, a small business can partner with the colleges to innovate and be more competitive in their industry. This also provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience that is relevant to the career they are pursuing and allows professors to be more in tune with their respective industries. This creates a scenario where the education system has a more direct impact on the growth of the economy.
Becker-Carroll was one of the first companies in the Outaouais region to write a letter of support to have a cybersecurity CCTT established at our local CEGEP. We were happy to be there when the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, announced its launch. We have since become a customer, have used its students, and have found it to be a great resource. We have partnered with them on a self-sovereign identity research and development project, and we are even having discussions with them about setting up training programs for government and business around trust ecosystems. It is clear that the role of the community college has changed.