Today, work-integrated learning (WIL) programs are as diverse as the aspirations of each student who attends one of our universities. These programs span all disciplines and faculties – from environmental science to fine arts, engineering and health sciences. Whether it’s specializing in sports entertainment and working on community development through civic engagement, to promoting mental health among at-risk groups and providing health care to underserved populations, a student’s dream job can take many forms.
Through internships, co-op programs, community service learning and fine arts placements, students are gaining valuable work experience in businesses, sports franchises, community organizations and international development agencies and are taking on roles such as investment managers, campaign planners and entrepreneurs, to name a few.
On the heels of National WIL and Co-op Week, our latest blog highlights just a few examples of how our province’s universities are partnering with employers to help students gain experience while studying and also nurturing the critical thinking skills that students need to be valuable members of the workforce of today and tomorrow.
Helping students transition into the labour market
In Ontario’s increasingly competitive job market, WIL helps equip students with the skills they need to help them transition into the job market after graduation.
The benefits of these programs reach far beyond the individual student experience – in fact, many students have found full-time employment in their fields of study as a result of the experiential learning opportunities gained during their university education.
According to a 2016 Abacus Data report, 86 per cent of current students and recent graduates in Canada said experiential learning led to an easier transition from school to a successful career.
Building linkages between students and employers
Ontario’s universities are creating meaningful partnerships with employers in all parts of society – from health care to agriculture and manufacturing – to ensure our students receive the skills they need for the workforce.
Employers say today’s students need to be adaptable for the jobs of the future, the roles we haven’t even imagined. WIL opportunities help ensure businesses have access to the right talent – now and in the future. Not only do employers gain access to a pool of diverse and adaptable students, and the fresh ideas they bring, but to the critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills these students possess – the kind of skills employers are increasingly looking for in new hires.
Students also benefit greatly from these valuable connections. Since many employers often require prospective employees to have two to five years of experience on their resumes, participating in WIL and co-op opportunities strengthen students’ marketability and helps support their transition into the workforce.
By teaching students practical skills and connecting them with work-integrated learning programs and placements, students are given the kind of work experience that turns knowledge into action – some leading to the next big app, others to software that saves lives.
Ontario’s students are at the very core of Ontario’s prosperity. Companies come here and grow here because of our deep and diverse pool of highly-skilled workers, and this in turn creates good jobs for Ontarians, vibrant communities and higher living standards for the province as a whole. To maintain this advantage, our universities will continue to adapt and develop the knowledge, skills and experiences that help our students thrive in a competitive and rapidly changing world.
– David Lindsay, President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities
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