Making work-integrated learning a fundamental part of the Canadian undergraduate experience is one of several commitments recently made by Canada’s Business/Higher Education Roundtable – a year-old organization representing some of the country’s leading companies and post-secondary institutions.
Roundtable members agreed on an ambitious agenda, which includes:
- A national goal for work-integrated learning – to ensure 100 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students benefit from some form of meaningful work-integrated learning before graduation.
- A national campaign to promote the importance of work-integrated learning.
- A series of work-integrated learning pilot projects focused on meeting regional and sectoral workforce needs and improving school-to-work transitions for young Canadians.
The Roundtable is co-chaired by Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, President of the University of Calgary; Tom Jenkins, Chair of OpenText Corporation; and Anne Sado, President of George Brown College. Its mission is to strengthen partnerships among universities, colleges, polytechnics and private-sector employers.
“The Business/Higher Education Roundtable is advancing new ways for employers to partner with post-secondary educational institutions, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for our students and graduates,” said Ms. Sado.
“We are focused on targeted solutions and actionable initiatives, motivated by a commitment to better collaboration – in skills development, work-integrated learning and in research and commercialization.”
The Roundtable gathered at George Brown College in Toronto in late April to assess a year of collaboration and chart a course for the future. Roundtable members confirmed that a rapidly changing work environment for entry-level employees required immediate action and leadership.
“New technologies, disruptive innovation, demographic shifts and intense global competition for talent are quickly raising skill requirements and changing expectations for new graduates,” said Mr. Jenkins. “To ensure our next generation can compete and succeed in the 21st century knowledge economy, we must take concrete steps towards a system in which Canadian companies and institutions are more efficiently and effectively connected.”
The Roundtable’s commitment to improve work-integrated learning will include cataloguing and sharing best practices, working with public sector partners on performance measurement and reporting systems, and advocating innovative initiatives.