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COVID-19 dramatically altered the nature of work, including WIL, and it continues to impact students and recent graduates from equity-deserving communities. But, it also made way for employers, and post-secondaries to develop new opportunities to meaningfully address the challenges.

This resource reflects and amplifies the student voices that are often unheard in the WIL ecosystem. BHER spoke with EDI leaders and nearly 100 equity-deserving students and recent graduates from across Canada. Together their stories paint a picture of lived experiences and expert perspectives that call out complex, systemic challenges in WIL but also outline priorities for employers, post-secondaries, and practitioners to build a more equitable, inclusive post-COVID WIL ecosystem.

Many of the challenges students face are a result of coming up against a system that wasn’t built for them, including:

  • Awareness gaps, as many students don’t know about WIL opportunities or the value they can have for their careers.
  • Engagement & recruitment barriers, as students don’t always feel they ‘connect’ to, or can see themselves in WILs
  • Lived realities, like socio-economic barriers, tend to prevent low-income students or those with financial and caretaker responsibilities from taking advantage of WILs
  • Systemic barriers of belonging and inclusion persist on campuses and in workplaces, including racism, discrimination, a lack of representation in supervisors, and a lack of culturally appropriate supports that acknowledge the lived realities of many equity-deserving communities.

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