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Nobina Robinson

Chief Executive Officer (retired), Polytechnics Canada

Nobina Robinson served as Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnics Canada, a national alliance of colleges and polytechnics, for nine years.

Media

Nobina Robinson Receives Honorary Degree from Algonquin College

Retired CEO Nobina Robinson receives Honorary Degree from Algonquin College at Spring Convocation and passes along the important key messages 'Care, Share, Dare.'

Final Reflections: Nobina Robinson

Nobina Robinson, retired CEO of Polytechnics Canada, delivers her final reflections at Polytechnics Canada's 2018 Annual Conference: Shifting Gears: Today's Polytechnics, Tomorrow's Work.

CBC, February 7, 2017Radio/Podcast

URL: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thehouse/midweek-podcast-dominic-barton-s-latest-recommendations-1.3969033

Polytechnics Canada CEO (retired) Nobina Robinson is interviewed by Chris Hall on CBC's the House in response to Finance Canada's Advisory Council on Economic Growth's second series of reports. Tune in to listen to an interview with Dominic Barton, chair of the Growth Council followed by an interview with Nobina beginning at 13:26.

The need to nurture a skills economy

Calgary's Business, May 30, 2018Online

URL: https://calgarysbusiness.ca/viewpoint/need-nurture-skills-economy/

When leaders of the world’s seven most advanced economies meet on June 8 and 9 in Charlevoix, Que., the top-line agenda item will be preparing for the jobs of the future.

Our planning for the future of work must include education

Policy Options, May 7, 2018Online

URL: http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2018/our-planning-for-the-future-of-work-must-include-education/

In order to prepare for the jobs of the future we need to change the way we think about education, especially skills, credentials and experience.

The value of a hands-on bachelor’s degree

Ottawa Life Magazine, February 2, 2018Online

URL: http://www.ottawalife.com/article/the-value-of-a-hands-on-bachelors-degree?c=9

In late November, Statistics Canada kicked off the holiday season with a data drop. As part of the dissemination of 2016 Census data, they released their comprehensive reports on education, covering a wide range of topics, including overall education attainment and the skills mismatches and earnings potential of bachelor’s degree graduates in Canada.

Polytechnics deserve a bigger slice of the federal R&D pie

The Globe and Mail Report on Business, November 7, 2017Online

URL: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/polytechnics-deserve-a-bigger-slice-of-the-federal-rd-pie/article36863704/

Innovation is not solely driven by science or basic research. Yet, the federal government regularly conflates and confuses these concepts in its efforts to push Canada toward an "innovation economy." This is shown by the skewed imbalance in how the federal government funds science, innovation and commercialization activities.

So what is innovation?

Three reasons why Canada should invest more in polytechnic education for innovation

Hill Times, October 31, 2017Online

URL: http://www.hilltimes.com/2017/10/31/three-reasons-canada-invest-polytechnic-education-innovation/124201

The G7 met in late September to discuss how the nature of work is changing, and how, largely, automation is driving that change. Canada’s Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, along with her counterparts, discussed the challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how to put “people and work at the heart of innovation.”

The federal government’s $221-million investment into innovation internships must include colleges and polytechnics

Hill Times, June 21, 2017Online

URL: https://www.hilltimes.com/2017/06/21/federal-governments-221-million-investment-innovation-internships-must-include-colleges-polytechnics/111270

When parliamentarians return to their ridings for the summer recess, they will have many opportunities to congratulate this spring’s crop of post-secondary graduates, proud of their achievements and eager to take their place in the workforce.

Science is necessary but not sufficient for innovation

Hill Times, June 5, 2017Online

URL: https://www.hilltimes.com/2017/06/05/science-necessary-not-sufficient-innovation/108911

Nations need to have well-articulated strategies addressing science, innovation, competitiveness and productivity. Confusing or conflating these distinct but complementary goals is a recipe for underperformance.

Polytechnics train workers for next-generation infrastructure

Edmonton Journal, May 31, 2017Online

URL: http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-polytechnics-train-workers-for-next-generation-infrastructure

Canada’s economy is inextricably linked to our infrastructure – and it’s always been so.

Skilled Trades belong in Canada's Innovation Conversation

Huffington Post, May 4, 2017Online

URL: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/nobina-robinson/toolboxes-and-technology_b_16407782.html

Canada's economic landscape is changing. To see how, one must look no further than the March 22 federal budget and follow the money. Big chunks of funding will be delivered to the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI), clean tech, the digital economy and agri-food.

Don’t leave the skilled trades out of Canada’s innovation conversation

Policy Options, April 21, 2017Online

URL: http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2017/dont-leave-the-skilled-trades-out-of-canadas-innovation-conversation/

Innovation can’t just mean developing apps, it must include building the knowledge and capacity of Canada’s skilled trades people.

Polytechnics educate youth for the job market

Montreal Gazette, March 12, 2017Online

URL: https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/opinion-polytechnics-educate-youth-for-the-job-market

It’s not easy being young these days — especially where employment is concerned.

University or college? Polytechnics fall somewhere in between

Maclean's, January 24, 2016Online

URL: http://www.macleans.ca/education/university-or-college-polytechnics-fall-somewhere-in-between/

“You don’t go here to study psychology or sociology or ancient history, as vital as those may be,” explains Nobina Robinson, CEO of Polytechnics Canada, a member-funded association that conducts research, development and analysis. “You go to Sheridan because they’re world leaders in animation arts. You attend Seneca to do their bachelor’s in open-source-software technical development, because they’re working with Mozilla and Firefox.”...

Championing innovation as important as unleashing science

The Hill Times, November 5, 2015Online

URL: http://www.polytechnicscanada.ca/sites/default/files/Championing%20innovation%20as%20important%20as%20unleashing%20science%20_%20hilltimes.pdf

Let’s be honest. Barely a peep was heard about innovation from any of the three major parties over the course of the lengthy federal election campaign. And now, stimulating Canadian innovation will have to find a place on the long “to do” list of the new Liberal government. Meanwhile, Canada’s total spending on research and development is expected to decline for a third consecutive year, down 0.7 per cent from 2014. The new government will be fully aware of our sluggish international comparative rankings in innovation and competitiveness.

A university degree isn’t the only, or best, way to build your earning power

The Globe and Mail, September 29, 2015Online

URL: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/a-university-degree-isnt-the-only-or-best-way-to-build-your-earning-power/article26571488/

Over the past few years, gloom-and-doom news reports and commentaries have warned about the dangers of pursuing any sort of higher education other than earning a university degree, in terms of ultimate earning potential. The general argument is usually that a university degree leads to a high-paying, successful career and that other forms of postsecondary education or trades training don’t pay off. Those ideas, however, rest on a shaky foundation that crumbles under the slightest scrutiny. First off, the university-degree promoters wrongly equate the career-earning power of baby boomers who graduated from university with those recent university grads, mistakenly applying conclusions from the past to the present.

Biography

Nobina Robinson recently retired as Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnics Canada after over nine years of leadership for the national association that represents the leading Canadian polytechnics and colleges in Canada. Since her retirement in July 2018, she has been appointed as Executive Fellow of the School of Public Policy of the University of Calgary, and a Senior Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Before joining Polytechnics Canada, Mrs. Robinson was the Ottawa-based Senior Government Relations Advisor for Seneca College, responsible for federal advocacy for one of Canada's largest colleges. As Polytechnics Canada’s CEO, Mrs. Robinson successfully advocated for to make federal funding for research inclusive of polytechnic and college and applied research, extending beyond university and post-doctoral research. She was instrumental in urging the federal government to establish the Canada Apprentice Loan program in 2014. Mrs. Robinson’s longstanding commitment to inclusive innovation has led to significant increase in federal funding for polytechnic and college applied research and inclusion of students from these institutions for innovation internships.

Mrs. Robinson served as a member of the Expert Panel on the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development that completed its work in October 2011. She was recently awarded an Honorary Degree in Applied Science by Algonquin College, in Ottawa. She has written numerous media commentaries about Canada’s innovation and talent challenges and opportunities for modernizing Canada’s skills and research ecosystems.

Recognition/Reconnaissance

Honorary Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science | Professional

2018 - Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Commonwealth Scholar | Professional

1985 - Awarded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission

Additional Titles and Affiliations

C.D. Howe Institute

Senior Fellow

University of Calgary, School of Public Policy

Executive Fellow

Polytechnics Canada

Advisor

Rideau Club

Member

Seneca College : Senior Government Relations Advisor

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada

Panel Member Federal Review of Business R&D

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Executive Director Canadian Foundation for the Americas

Board Member Rideau Club of Ottawa

CAMMAC Ottawa-Gatineau

Links

Expertise

  • Future of work
  • Changing nature of work
  • Science, technology, research and development
  • Innovation
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Proposal Writing
  • Program Evaluation
  • Post-Secondary Education in Canada
  • Apprenticeship and the skilled trades
  • International Relations
  • Government Relations
  • Cuba-Canada Relations
  • Non-profit governance
  • Team leadership

Education/Éducation

  • Yale University
    Classics and Comparative Literature
    Doctoral Studies
  • University of Oxford
    Classics
    M.A., 1988
  • Amherst College
    Classics
    B.A., 1984