For the first time in history, adults 65 years and over now outnumber children 14 years and under in Canada. This means there will soon be more Canadians transitioning from work to retirement than from school to work. This momentous demographic change will require social innovation reaching far beyond health and social care policies for older adults.
The unprecedented volume, variety and velocity of Big Data offer tremendous opportunities to provide key insights on urgent social, economic and health issues for our aging populations. But there is a bottleneck: 65 per cent of employers report a skills shortage in data analytics. But data science is in such hot demand that only the highest bidders can afford those insights.
The problem with this situation is that it leaves out many sectors, and especially government and non-profit that care for the public good and those most vulnerable in our societies. As such, CAnD3 embraces the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and seeks to implement them in all our processes, starting with the broad range of partners we have mobilized.
CAnD3 is the recipient of a $2.5 million Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and $4.1 million from partner organizations in Canada, the U.S., the UK and Germany. The initiative catalyses the collaboration of 32 partners from academic, public, not-for-profit, and private sectors to create an innovative training program. This enthusiastic support from our many partners demonstrates the timeliness of and the need for this initiative.
Every day, myriad decisions are being made in all sectors of society and particularly government, that affect millions of us. We must accelerate exchanges between academia and decision-makers so that these decisions are routinely informed by the evidence we produce, and that we understand better what evidence is most useful to these decision-makers.
We know that inequality is on the rise globally. We cannot let it grow any further, as it threatens the very fabric of our societies, down to our health. This is a critical policy problem, and one that CAnD3 will help address by both preparing the next generation and upskilling current population researchers to work in academia, government, policy think tanks, non-profit organizations and private sector companies. We will work together to drive innovation in support of aging populations.
I am confident the training we develop through CAnD3 and the networks that arise from this shared experience will help usher in a future where data-driven decision-making will routinely occur in all sectors of society, in Canada and abroad. My hope is that this will happen in the pursuit of greater equity. We need to put the best mind to the task now because the decisions that are made today will shape tomorrow’s future, and it starts here, with CAnD3’s exceptional trainees and committed partners.
Director, Consortium on Analytics for Data-Driven Decision-Making (CAnD3)