September 18, 2023
OTTAWA - The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is pleased to welcome Passage Inc to its growing membership. Created by Martin Basiri, who co-founded ApplyBoard in 2015, Passage was recently launched at the Toronto Collision conference after raising $40 million in initial seed funding with the goal of providing financing to newcomers who want to study and work in high-demand fields in Canada.
On his vision for Passage and their new partnership with BHER, Founder and CEO Martin Basiri says: "I'm thrilled to collaborate with BHER on pivotal issues that are shaping the future of Canada. At Passage, our mission is to provide access to life-changing educational and career opportunities. Advancing work-integrated learning, supporting Canada's net-zero initiatives, and ensuring the success of international students are all critical for Canada's future, and I'm excited to contribute to the success of these important initiatives."
This timely announcement comes during heightened attention on the federal government’s reconsideration of international student numbers.
Speaking to Financial Post in August, BHER’s Chief R&D Officer, Matthew McKean, stated that a more nuanced approach rather than a general cap on numbers could be an opportunity for Canada’s prospects: “What Canada really does need are people in the skilled trades in manufacturing, in health care, particularly nurses. [...] If there is a cap on particular programs, for example, that might be an opportunity for the post-secondary sector to recruit in programs where there is demand.”
One potential opportunity is a pilot initiative from Passage, supported by BHER, that will help 100 low-income Afghan women secure work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities as part of their studies in Canada.
Last year, BHER hosted Passage Founder & CEO Martin Basiri at a BHER members’ meeting. His conversation with RBC’s John Stackhouse was recorded for an episode of RBC’S Disruptors podcast, in which Basiri emphasized that attracting and retaining international talent is key to the future of Canada’s labour market.
At the nexus of business and higher education, BHER is on the forefront of Canada’s international talent strategy by funding WIL partnerships and developing projects that build pathways for international students. More new partners and projects will be announced soon, as BHER turns its attention to priority areas, including the skilled trades, manufacturing, and healthcare.
About the Business + Higher Education Roundtable:
The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2015, BHER has worked to harness the strengths of Canada’s business and post-secondary education sectors to build opportunities for young Canadians, boost innovation and drive collaboration. Visit our WIL Hub for ways to explore, invest in and create quality WIL opportunities.