A series of announcements across Canada this week highlights how partnerships between businesses and post-secondary institutions are equipping students with the skills needed for a competitive economy. At launch events in Toronto, Quebec City, Charlottetown and Clarington, the Government of Canada rolled out funding as part of its initiative to create 10,000 paid student work placements over the next four years.

“Seeing these programs develop across their sectors – it’s a tremendous success,” says The Honourable John Manley, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada. “To see government, businesses and post-secondary institutions come together shows leadership, and a collective commitment to ensuring students have the skills they need to succeed.”

Launched in 2015 by the Business Council of Canada, the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) represents some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions.  BHER has set a target to have 100 per cent of post-secondary students participate in some form of work-integrated learning, such as a co-op, internship, applied research project or apprenticeship, by the time they graduate. The Business Council of Canada’s 2018 Skills Survey, released last week, notes that businesses are increasingly partnering with post-secondary institutions to prepare graduates with the skills needed for their careers.  Eighty-three per cent of surveyed businesses have a partnership with a post-secondary institution, up from 76 per cent in 2016.

“As the next generation enters the workforce, profound economic, social and technological change means that collaboration is key to unlocking our future economic potential,” says Dave McKay, President and Chief Executive Officer of RBC and leader of the Business/Higher Education Roundtable’s work-integrated learning taskforce. “It takes commitment and investment to launch work-integrated learning programs, but the payoff is well worth it.”

Three of the announced initiatives, led by the mining, financial services and ‘entrepreneurship’ sectors, are championed by BHER members. Federal investments will help support:

  • The Mining Industry Human Resources Council’sGearing Up” program, which will create 850 new student placements, with a focus on encouraging participation from groups currently underrepresented in the sector, including women, Indigenous peoples and new immigrants;
  • The Toronto Financial Service Alliance’sASPIRE”, on its goal to have 10,000 new work-integrated learning placements in the industry by the end of 2020;
  • Venture for Canada’s new internship project, which will help over 500 students in the business and entrepreneurial fields develop important skills and gain valuable workplace experience in the Atlantic region.

The Electricity Human Resources Council, which will help 750 students in the electricity industry and business fields gain work experience, also received government support.

About the Business/Higher Education Roundtable

Composed of leaders from the private sector, universities, colleges and polytechnics, BHER works to support young Canadians as they transition from education to the workplace, strengthen research collaboration between industry and institutions, and help Canadian employers as they adapt to the economy of the future. Learn more at bher.ca