Federal government announces $17M to create more work–integrated learning opportunities for students

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The federal government committed $17 million to provide more students with opportunities to develop their skills in real-world settings. The funding is for the Business/Higher Education Roundtable Open New Browser Window (BHER), whose goal is to ensure all post-secondary students have options for work-integrated learning (apprenticeships, co-ops, field placements, internships or applied research). 

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains made the funding announcement July 25, 2019 when roundtable members and industry leaders met at George Brown College. Formed in 2015, BHER aims to strengthen ties and open opportunities for collaboration between Canadian businesses and colleges and universities. 

 “As rapid technological advancements transform virtually every industry, the intersection between a strong economy and a skilled workforce has never been more pronounced,” said George Brown College President Anne Sado, who is also Co-Chair of BHER. “For the sake of job seekers and employers alike, we need to ensure that Canadians are building the skills they need to fill key roles in emerging and evolving industries.” 

The government funding will help BHER engage small and medium-sized businesses, particularly those that have never offered student positions before. The goal is to create 44,000 new student placement opportunities per year by 2021/22 and help ensure graduates can hit the ground running with job-ready skills. 

Ninety-eight per cent of career-focused programs at George Brown College offer at least one experiential learning opportunity. 

“Young Canadians are talented, ambitious and hard-working; however, making the transition to the workforce can be difficult. When young people gain valuable on-the-job experience, they are better equipped to succeed in the workplace, and that is fundamental to growing our economy and strengthening our middle class for years to come. That is why our government is proud to support the work of the Business/Higher Education Roundtable,” Bains said. 

Photo (from left to right): Navdeep Bains, Minister Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Rhonda Barnet, President and COO, AVIT Manufacturing; Jennifer O'Connell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (Youth Economic Opportunity); Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto; Anne Sado, President, George Brown College; Val Walker, Executive Director of the Business/Higher Education Roundtable; Sarah Roberts, mechanical engineering student at the University of Western Ontario; Dave McKay, CEO, RBC.