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How business schools are adapting to the changing world of work

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Forget about accounting class and marketing 101. 

Canadian business school leaders say soft skills such as creativity and agility are now cornerstones of business education, as universities and colleges adapt to a world where many of the jobs graduates will hold don’t even exist today.

They say there’s still a role for those business basics, but they’re no longer enough to satisfy workplaces that prize employees who can adapt to swiftly changing industries, disruptive technology and the thorny issues facing humanity in the years to come.

“The goal of a university education is to teach people how to deal with uncertainty, how to be a critical thinker, how to be okay when things are changing,” said Darren Dahl, associate dean of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business in Vancouver.

“The notion of going to work for the big corporation, and the jobs that we traditionally do, are evolving and changing,” said Dahl. That’s put a lot of pressure on business schools to change what and how they teach, he said.

To keep on top of what employers are looking for, staff at the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., recently completed 250 interviews with leaders in government, business and non-profits around the globe, said acting dean Mark Vandenbosch.

Mark Vandenbosch, acting dean of Ivey Business School, seen in this March 25, 2015, file photo, said today’s job market prizes soft skills. (Ivey Business School)

“Although people do need to have technical literacy that’s probably higher than before — the skills that are really demanded are the soft skills that will allow them to adapt,” said Vandenbosch.

‘Embracing creativity in a big way’

These include the ability to bring alternative viewpoints to a problem, he said, as well as things like creativity, grit, teamwork, communications effectiveness and decision-making skills.

At UBC, Dahl said the MBA program includes a required course in creativity. “That surprises some people,” he said. “Traditionally, you might think of a business school as beating out the creativity in students.”

The creativity class curriculum isn’t centred around business innovation, such as coming up with a new product. “It’s more base creativity,” he said.

Creativity is a muscle.  How do we strengthen that muscle for you as a leader, whether you work in corporate or a non-profit or your own entrepreneurial venture?– Darren  Dahl , associate dean, UBC’s Sauder School of Business

“Creativity is a muscle. If you stopped exercising it years ago — some people say you’re the most creative when you’re five or six years old and then it’s just downhill —  how do we strengthen that muscle for you as a leader, whether you work in corporate or a non-profit or your own entrepreneurial venture?

“That’s a fundamental tool in the toolbox, and I think society has just woken up to that in the last five years,” said Dahl.

Joe Musicco, who teaches at Sheridan College’s Pilon School of Business in Toronto, said “business is certainly embracing creativity in a big way.”

There are a number of factors contributing to the business world’s increasing interest in creativity, said Musicco.

“You could point to things like technology and AI [Artificial Intelligence]. You could point to things like the changing nature of work and being more of a thinker and a consultant, and expectations of people in general that [graduates] are going to be able to bring innovation and creative problem-solving skills to the table.”

Students have more diverse goals

What students want has changed, too.

“The younger generations today are very much interested in having impact,” said Dahl.

“That could mean anything from having an impact by building their own business, to having a positive influence on society.”

In the past, most business school students would strive for the same jobs at large, branded international corporations, he said

While some still do, others want to work for non-profits, and some want to be their own bosses, said Dahl.

Students are seen in class at Ivey Business School. (Ivey Business School)

Preparation for the entrepreneurial world

Dahl said there’s also been “a sea change in respect to the importance of entrepreneurial activity in the economy.”

To meet that need, course material is now taught differently, he said, moving away from “the classic lecturing on the stage” to methods that involve more action and applied learning. 

Business school classes could be challenged to partner up with engineering students on a project, or to work with start-ups, for example.

At Ivey Business School, Vandenbosch said “a huge percentage of our graduates run their own businesses.”

The typical route they take, though, is to work for somebody else for a few years after graduation to get on-the-ground experience, then return to the school to take advantage of the entrepreneurial incubator it offers for alumni, he said.

“We provide a lot of support post graduation for those who want to come back at a later time to start a venture two, three or four years later.– Mark Vandenbosch, acting dean, Ivey Business School

“We provide a lot of support post graduation for those who want to come back at a later time to start a venture two, three or four years later.”

One of the ways Ivey prepares graduates for a more entrepreneurial world is by throwing out the traditional undergraduate schedule where students make their own course selections then keep that schedule over a semester.

Instead, starting when they join Ivey in third year, students show up at expected times each day, then programming is varied all year long, said Vandenbosch. 

“Our focus is primarily on building experiences for students so they can build the capabilities to adapt to a future world, rather than, ‘Here is what you need to know about subject X.'” 

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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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