Filling in labor gaps with education
When Bruno Lam’s father moved their family of four to Canada from Hong Kong, armed with only a high school diploma, there were few routes he could take to make a living.
At the advice of a training agency, he pursued a program in computer networking — but the skills he developed eventually became obsolete with cloud computing, and left him scrambling for another solution.
“He had to pivot, and experienced a lot more stress and pain to provide for his family as a result,” said Lam, an incoming student in Stanford Graduate School of Education’s (GSE) Learning Design and Technology (LDT) master’s program. “I think a lot about how things could have been different if he’d had access to a skill program that had more of a safety net.”
It’s why Lam, one of four 2023 Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) at the GSE, will study how to design personalized learning experiences that connect nontraditional students to skilled jobs. His focus lies in filling labor shortages in the health care and sustainability fields by upskilling workers looking to take on higher-wage employment.
As part of the Knight-Hennessy program — a cohort of 84 Stanford graduate students across disciplines being prepared for leadership in their fields and communities — he hopes to engage with great minds that will challenge and improve his approach to problem solving.
“While in LDT and as a Knight-Hennessy scholar, I want to answer the question of how we can design more learning opportunities and pathways that are tailored to folks like my dad, that address their unique circumstances,” Lam said.
Prior to joining the GSE this fall, Lam received his bachelor’s in finance from the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he co-founded Propel Impact, a program that began as a way to help postsecondary students across Canada use their degree to find solutions to issues in climate change, education, health care and food insecurity.
“Before I started Propel, it took me a long time to find a community interested in applying business to creating positive social and environmental impact,” Lam said. “To be part of the Knight-Hennessy program means that the community is there from day one. I don’t have to search high and low for a group of people who will help me grow in my thinking, and who I can help as well.”