An enthusiastic and dedicated throng of economics students, together with a select contingent of faculty, attended this year’s CUES-CGES End-of-Year Celebration, held in the Loeb Building on Thursday, March 30.
The Guest of Honour, Glen Hodgson, Senior Fellow (and former Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist) at the Conference Board of Canada, gave an excellent presentation, encompassing a brief review of his professional background, some useful job-market tips for soon-to-be graduating students, discussion of Canada’s future low-carbon growth economy, and consideration of prospective trade relations in the time of Trump.
By way of background, Mr. Hodgson began his presentation by outlining the very varied and somewhat serendipitous nature of his career, which has embraced some 17 different job-titles to date, if memory serves me correctly. From undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba, Mr. Hodgson soon moved on to graduate work at McGill University, already perceiving that his future would lie in the practical and pragmatic realm of economic policy. Then, from McGill, a chance encounter at the tennis club led him to the Department of Finance – note to students: the importance of networking! After ten years at Finance, working in a variety of increasingly responsible positions, including a spell at the IMF, Mr. Hodgson then moved on to the Export Development Corporation, where he swiftly rose to the position of Vice-President and Deputy-Chief Economist, before joining the Conference Board as Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist in 2004, and then finally ascending to his current position of Senior Fellow in September 2016.
Having thus established his bona fides, Mr. Hodgson proceeded to dispense some very useful advice on how to successfully navigate the job-market. Everybody in the audience had already made a good start, Mr. Hodgson opined, in that they were studying economics! This degree choice is a clear signal to employers that the student in question can read and write, do math, use a computer, and analyze a problem. Over and above technical skills, however, Mr. Hodgson also underlined the importance of soft-skills. It is essential to be able to communicate one’s thoughts effectively, especially to non-economists, and students should take every opportunity to develop these skills.
As for economics itself, Mr. Hodgson outlined and discussed his most recent focus on studying how the future low-carbon economy will be structured and how it will operate, not to mention the implications for existing workers in the existing economy. This is an important and serious issue. The world is rapidly developing new energy technologies, and other countries are making great strides. In Canada, the federal government has made statements about a national carbon-tax, and some provinces have made moves towards either a carbon-tax or a supposedly equivalent cap-and-trade alternative, but as always the devil is in the details and the provinces tend to be wayward!
Mr. Hodgson also gave some space to a consideration of international trade in the time of Trump. Whether we like it or not, the US is a big economy and it is right next door. Moreover, the vast preponderance of our international trade is with the US and we have to make it work. NAFTA may have to rethought, but the US trade relationship is key. Trade diversification is always wise, however, and Canada has made good progress with CETA and in developing a series of bilateral trade agreements with other important partners.
Finally, Mr. Hodgson opened the door to a multitude of questions on a multitude of topics, ranging from the impact of an aging population on Japan to the impact of corruption in the Ukraine, and every other aspect of economic policy too! In all cases, Mr. Hodgson’s well-thought out and considered responses were very well-received.
Many thanks go to Mr. Hodgson for giving so generously of his time and of himself, and for rounding off a great academic year for the economics societies!
Excellent arrangements were directed by Robert Cloutier, President of CUES, and his executive.
Financial support for the event was provided by the Faculty of Public Affairs.
Students (and others) wishing to find out more about CUES and CGES and their activities are encouraged to like them on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/economicssociety and www.facebook.com/CarletonGraduateEconomicsSociety).