The Canadian government is set to invest $73 million over the next four years to create 10,000 paid student work placements using a student work-integrated learning program.
The program will let students hone their business etiquette skills in a work place environment, and prepares them for full-time work.
“The new government initiative aims to create 10,000 paid student work placements by forging partnerships between employers and post-secondary institutions in Canada to prepare students for jobs in high-demand fields,” Christopher Simard, spokesperson for Patty Hajdu, minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.
The government will pay up to 50 per cent of the wage cost for the placement, to a maximum of $5,000, and up to 70 percent, up to a maximum of $7,000. The funds will be for first-year students and under-represented groups, such as women in STEM, Indigenous students, people with disabilities and newcomers.
Community Outreach and Workforce Development (COWD) at Humber College supports people that may not traditionally have access to education and employment and collaborates with Humber and other departments in partnership with community agencies and the government to offer a broad range of programs and services.
Combined they will assist youth and underrepresented groups looking to get post-secondary education, apprenticeships and meaningful work opportunities.
Geraldine Babcock, director of COWD, doesn’t think the model suggested by the government is new, but likes that students can now benefit from it while they are still in school.
“When students take an internship, they can’t continue with their part-time jobs, so if they get a paid co-op internship that would alleviate a lot of hardship for them,” she said.
Babcock said the good thing about Humber is it’s applied learning and it’s not like getting a degree in a regular university setting where it’s all book work.
“I think that’s why colleges are becoming so popular and a lot of university grads are also augmenting their university degrees with hands-on kind of applied programs from colleges and post-grad certificates,” she said.
“Any investment in students to help them land a job and convince an employer to participate is a good thing,” Babcock said. “You want the employer to ensure on his end that those placements are worthwhile for students.”
Antoniette DiMarco, placement centre manager for the business school at Lakeshore campus, said it is “a good government sponsored employer incentive program.”
DiMarco said it is vital to give students the opportunity to practice their technical skills and the knowledge they’ve learned in class so they can develop their professional and interpersonal skills when they are in the work place.
That’s what employers are looking for in college graduates, she said.
“They are looking for not only the technical skills, but they are looking for those interpersonal skills and professional etiquette skills,” DiMarco said. “We teach them in class, but there’s nothing like that hands-on experience and also getting paid for it.”
She calls work-integrated learning program, a mutually beneficial partnership between industry partners, students and the colleges.