By: Brooke Timpson

John Baird at Algonquin on March 21.

John Baird took a shot at his own degree’s worth at a classroom discussion on March 21.

Algonquin hosted the Minister of Foreign Affairs as a part of an International Business Management Speaker’s Forum.

“Far too many people graduate with a degree like mine and can’t find any well-paying jobs,” said Baird, who has an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in political studies from Queen’s University.

Baird also said that it was imperative for Canada to fill its current skilled labour shortages.

As one of the proposed solutions, Baird discussed the need for the government to invest in local jobs and to redirect routes of education.

“I think the conversation with this government tells us that they realize that we need to invest in the skilled trades,” said Kent MacDonald, president of Algonquin, who also attended the event, “It takes courage to rethink the needs of the education system, but it needs to happen.”

The forum left students with an understanding of the minister’s portfolio and highlighted the jobs that are a result of government measures abroad and in Canada.

After his presentation, students had the opportunity to further engage with Baird.

“Don’t worry, I don’t yell and scream like I do in the House of Commons,” Baird told the line of students waiting to ask him questions.

Students focused their questions on Canadian trading relationships and projects, such as the Keystone pipeline and new bi-lateral trading agreements in Asia-Pacific regions.

While Baird addressed these questions, not everything could be answered.

One student asked for a scoop on what he could expect in the forthcoming federal budget, which was announced in the House of Commons a few hours after the speaker’s forum.

“I can’t tell you that,” said Baird with a smile, “then you wouldn’t watch at four o’clock!”

“It was great to visit (the college), the questions were thoughtful and well researched.”