Grow & Nurture the Skilled Workforce

Grow & Nurture the Skilled Workforce

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Don Bureaux, President and CEO, Nova Scotia Community College, Chair, Grow Task Force | Published: February 1, 2018

Work Integrated Learning model boosts student and employer opportunities

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is going through a period of evolution.

The 2013-2018 Strategic Plan is winding down — leaving room for new goals, fresh faces and hopefully if we have all worked diligently enough, a few wins for the business community.

The same can be said for the Grow & Nurture the Skilled Workforce Task Force. Over the past few years the task force has focused its efforts on matching post-secondary student development to employer needs, enhancing primary to Grade 12 skill-development and promoting immigration. While we will continue to strive for a growing workforce, the new Strategic Plan (which will be released this year) will guide our discussions and projects, to ensure Halifax businesses have the right employees and potential employees can find fulfilling employment.

Growing the skilled workforce must always include Work Integrated Learning (WIL). What is WIL? Well, I am glad you asked. WIL is a model of learning that allows students to gain applied experience while enrolled in an academic course, which basically provides students the opportunity to apply classroom skills in the workplace and bring workplace skills back to the classroom. This applied learning can take the form of internships, co-ops and apprenticeships. The Chamber is a big advocate of paid WIL, as not only does it allow students to gain first-hand skills of their designated profession, but it also matches them with an employer who may be looking to hire when the student graduates, thus matching skills with those who need them.

I’m pleased to see the action being taken to address the workforce issues we’re facing in the province and I continue to applaud the efforts of private sector employers who are showing others the benefits of providing experiential learning. Through work integrated learning opportunities, employers and post-secondary institutions can match skilled students and graduates with industry needs.

To ensure businesses are aware of the benefits of using WIL, the Grow & Nurture the Skilled Workforce is working on a pilot project that hopes to match businesses currently utilizing WIL with those that are not. Almost like a “buddy system” that guides businesses through the process — from the beginning to hiring a student and through issues that might arise during employment. Phase one of the project is to reach out to the Chamber’s 270 Growth Champions who currently employ students for an in-depth interview to truly understand not only their experience with WIL but why they hire students. Phase-two will match participating businesses with members looking to become a WIL Growth Champion with the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the project is to have ten new Growth Champion members by the end of 2018 and 100 by the end of the new strategic plan. That will significantly add to our WIL numbers in Halifax and grow the skilled workforce, the task force’s mandate and overall goal.

Recently, the task force has recruited new members. We were looking to add new opinions, innovative ideas and engage more of our members in our skilled workforce discussions. We were happy to add a few new members who are enthusiastic about the group’s goals and current projects. The Grow & Nurture the Skilled Workforce Task Force is looking forward to continuing our work with inspiring businesses and committed members to make Halifax a vibrant community to live, work and play.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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