As a new school year begins, I welcome all students, returning and new, and issue you a challenge. Each school year at the University of Manitoba offers many opportunities, and this fall will be no different. There are many changes visible at both campuses to better serve both students and staff.
My challenge to you is to really take charge of your education in ways that will bring out the best in you as trailblazers, visionaries, and innovators. Whatever your field of interest, whatever your passion, commit to connecting with people inside and outside the classroom in ways that open you up to the rich possibilities available at a larger, research-intensive university like ours.
You and your classmates are the leaders of tomorrow. Your studies here will shape your futures and that of the community at large. You may have a role in changing how people think and act not only in Winnipeg but across Canada and around the world.
One only has to look at today’s news headlines to appreciate the impact University of Manitoba graduates have on the lives of people everywhere. Some of our medical researchers and students have returned from the field in Sierra Leone, working in the heart of the world’s worst Ebola epidemic. Many candidates running in the upcoming civic election and as school trustees are University of Manitoba graduates. And dozens of our students and faculty are involved in the development of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that will open next week.
A university degree is extremely valuable in today’s job market. Almost 90 per cent of young university graduates age 25 to 29 were in full-time jobs in 2013, and more than 80 per cent of these were in full-time positions. What’s more, the vast majority of these jobs did not exist five years ago. The demand for your newly-acquired skills and knowledge will continue to rise, especially with new opportunities and skill sets projected into the future. Demand for university graduates across Canada is concentrated in professional, management, and administrative occupations, but employment is growing at all post-secondary levels. The majority of jobs facing skills shortages require a university degree.
I urge you to take up the challenge to create in yourselves a desire to excel. To be pioneers in research and defenders of the disempowered in our society. To create something new that will shine as a beacon for others to follow. To explore our world and discover new things to the benefit of all.
Welcome to the University of Manitoba!
David T Barnard, PHD