It’s time for a call to action: Hire students

It’s time for a call to action: Hire students

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

Contributors:

Patrick Sullivan, President & CEO, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Every April, we feature our Spring Dinner speakers in Business Voice. We do this both as a promotional opportunity and to showcase our theme to our readers. This year, with spring in mind, we’ve titled the event Work Integrated Learning: Bloom where you’re planted.

I’m sure most of you have heard the term Work Integrated Learning (WIL), the term given to an education that combines academic learning with its practical application in the workplace. This includes work placements, co-ops and other on-the-job training. The provincial government, BIDs, and business associations have identified student and immigrant retention as a key factor in growing our aging and migrating population. Yet WIL remains a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have in our business community.

John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO at RBC and one of our Spring Dinner’s keynote speakers spearheaded a critical report titled ‘Humans Wanted.’ The report looks at the ‘coming skills revolution’ and explains that while we have the jobs and potential in Canada, we are lacking the skilled labour.

All too often we hear “there are no jobs here,” or “I’m not qualified for the available jobs.” From both employers and prospective employees, we’re hearing there’s a disconnect — a mismatch. Lucky for us, there’s a solution.

Nova Scotia and Halifax alone, is home to several world-class universities and colleges. Halifax’s student population is approximately 40,000, including more than 4,000 international students from 153 countries. This sounds like an impressive number, but how many of those students graduate and stay in Nova Scotia? How many would if they found meaningful work in their field?

The provincial statistics tell us more students are staying, but at an incremental rate. It’s encouraging news, but it shows us where the gaps are and that we can be doing more to entice the students to make a life in Nova Scotia.

One of the Chamber’s task forces, Accessing a Skilled Workforce, is focused on bridging the gap between employers and talent, talent and applied skills. We’ve quickly discovered WIL is the solution to our members’ concerns of labour shortages and a shrinking population.

Students enrolled in WIL during their education are introduced to the local business community and can take advantage of opportunities unavailable in larger cities. It’s simple: students are more likely to stay if they have a positive learning experience with a Nova Scotia business.

There are two sides to WIL: students and employers. It’s time for a call to action to all Nova Scotia businesses: hire students! There are plenty of resources to help businesses of all sizes hire a student. The Nova Scotia government can offer incentives covering about half of a student’s salary.

Start with small steps toward hiring a student. Contact a local university or college and ask them about their process. Ask them for resources on a student work plan and how to get the most out of a WIL experience. Head to novascotia.ca/programs/co-op-education-incentive
to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for funding. Take part in our Driving Diversity initiative at our Spring and Fall Dinners, where we pair students with corporate table holders to foster an important connection for both the business and the student.

Let’s work together as a business community to offer students a reason to stay and work in the province. Sign your business up for WIL and commit to growing our population and strengthening our economy, for generations to come.

Join us for Spring Dinner on May 2 at the Halifax Convention Centre to hear from business leaders on how we can strengthen the conditions to create, attract and retain talent in Nova Scotia.

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

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