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Interview With Transitions Canada President Phil Jarvis | Maureen McCann

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Maureen McCann (left) of ProMotions Career Solutions interviewed Phil Jarvis (right) in May, 2018 in the process of helping him with personal branding.

We have attached that interaction below.


MM: What is the focus of your work in career development?

K-12 education. I see this as the largest captive audience in the country (5 million youth for 12+ years) and the most strategic in terms of preparing coming generations of Canadians to build a better world for themselves, their families, their communities, indeed the nation. The current system is a remnant of the industrial age. It’s focus is on transmitting and scoring short-term retention of prescribed, age-based, knowledge to prepare students for more education. With knowledge now a free, constantly updated, instantly available commodity (Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc.) this is largely a waste of 12 years of students’ and educators’ time and minds. A shift to personalized, strengths-based, project- and problem-based, and community- and work-based learning linked to real-world issues about which young people care deeply is the answer. The problem is a dysfunctional system in which educators’s and students’ creativity and potential are caged and stifled. Transformation of the system will not happen overnight, but the deployment of one transformative innovation after another, conceived, developed and rigourously tested by the best minds in the most influential educational and allied organizations across Canada will move the needle.


MM: How would you describe the personal attributes you bring to career development?

I’m described as a big-picture visionary. If the initiative doesn’t offer benefits to every community in the country, I’m not interested. I’m described as passionate, persistent (even relentless), persuasive, motivating, and inspiring. My modus operandi is to focus on a big problem then connect the best people and organizations in the country to solve it. Fortunately, my record, reputation and personal network make this possible. To me, marketing means engaging ‘stars’ (individuals and organizations) in the chosen market to conceive and develop collaborative solutions to be tested and scaled nationally. No sales force is needed when the most influential public and private sector organizations are direct stakeholders in the solution’s success. I have done this with sufficient national and international projects projects and programs to be considered something of a legend. I’m frequently introduced as the ‘father’ of this program or that.


MM: What direct competencies do you bring to the table?

I know more about transformative initiatives now underway in education in Canada, the United States, and internationally than most. I have the credibility, reputation, and moxie to reach out to anyone at any level in education, business, and government globally. I’m “the connector” and the “arsonist.” I like starting fires, but when the fire is in no danger of going out, I want to move on and start more fires. I get restless in essentially maintenance roles. I need to be at the horizon, if not a little beyond.


MM: What are the motivators for players in the education ecosystem?

Educational leaders are driven to enhance student achievement and retention, and enhance parents’ perceptions of how well they are preparing students for post-secondary education and life beyond school. Employers want the education system to produce job-ready graduates with ‘real world’ competencies and experience to increase their productivity and competitiveness. Governments need more youth transitioning directly from school to career success to reduce the massive costs of entitlement programs and increase tax revenues and economic prosperity. Communities need to align talent and opportunity to retain their youth by assuring them good jobs. Otherwise, they will take their talent elsewhere. Worse still, they will stay as disgruntled employees or be a drag on the community on entitlement programs and seeding social unrest.


MM: What supporting qualifications do you lean on?

A proven track record. When tasked to develop a computer-based career exploration for the Employment and Immigration Canada in 1975, I authored and led the deployment of CHOICES, the first interactive computer computer system teachers, students, clients and employment counsellors had ever used. Ultimately, CHOICES was deployed in employment centres, and most secondary and post-secondary institutions in every Canadian province and territory. CHOICES was adopted state-wide by 15 U.S. states, and become the leading system of its kind in North America. 37 years later it is still in use. I convinced all provinces and territories to join the Canada Career Information Partnership to collaborate on projects to benefit students across Canada. CCIP produced Canada Prospects, a 48-page career and labour market information magazine that was published annually in national and provincial editions and distributed to millions of students from 1991 to 2007. I founded Canada’s first online portal to career and labour market information, Canada WorkinfoNET (CanWIN), with 10 provincial portals (Ontario WIN, British Columbia WIN, Yukon WIN, etc.). I co-founded the National Life/Work Centre to develop, test and deploy programs suggested by CCIP. These included The Real Game Series, the Blueprint for Life/Work Designs, Smart Options, and Destination 2020. I led partnership development with all of these projects which were adopted by 15,000 schools across Canada, 30,000 across the U.S. and over 100,000 schools globally.


MM: What is your added value?

I think bigger and can sometimes convince others to think bigger. I see connections between individuals, initiatives, organizations, and trends many don’t see. I see projects through from conception to resounding, sustainable success. I have an enviable, hard-earned reputation and international network. I have integrity and will never let a partner, friend, project, or organization down. I make people around me look better. I have always done my best to make my bosses, funders, colleagues, and partners heroes.


MM: What is your career brand and tagline?

I identify and guide transformative ideas from little-known local successes to national and international prominence by connecting the innovator(s) with leading content experts and with those who will ultimately make purchasing decisions in target markets – to collaborate as partners in enhancing, testing, revising, and launching the innovation at scale. I bring brilliant, isolated innovations to scale nationally and internationally.

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