Calgary will pilot a Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) program to grow a skilled talent pool and equip students with practical real-world experience to thrive in the new, digital economy. The project is made possible by a $2.9 million investment from the Future Skills Centre and a $2.5 million investment from the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Advanced Education.
Working together with all seven Calgary post-secondary institutions, local employers and Calgary Economic Development, students will have access to a one-stop online portal where they are matched with paid work-integrated learning opportunities in their field of study.
“This project is a true example of the winning collaborative spirit we have here in the city. We work together to solve global challenges and the current competition for skilled talent is especially top of mind as our economy expands and diversifies,” said Brad Parry, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development. “The WIL program will help Calgary become a hub for in-demand, skilled talent and a home to bright minds.”
Attraction, retention and development of skilled talent is a priority in the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, with a vision for the city to be the place where bright minds and big ideas come together with an unmatched spirit to help solve global challenges.
Research on the Alberta system indicates post-secondary students with work-integrated learning opportunities get jobs sooner and have a higher likelihood of attaining employment related to their interests and credentials.
"This opportunity will provide students the opportunity to marry academic studies with real life experiences through a digital platform,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre.
To retain talent, work-integrated learning helps students and youth visualize possible career paths in Calgary through an early connection with local employers and industry experts.
The business community benefits as WIL employers have the opportunity to nurture potential future employees and can access top talent with fresh skills.
“Greater work-integrated learning opportunities means that more Albertans will have the needed workplace skills and knowledge to launch their careers right after they graduate,” said Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta. “The program supports Calgary’s economic recovery, stimulates job creation and provides employers more opportunities to grow and develop talent.”
As part of the program, small and medium-sized businesses as well as non-profits will be engaged to explore and expand WIL opportunities with the support of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.
The WIL pilot program will have a dedicated team to engage with the learning community and help make opportunities more accessible to students and employers.
The post-secondary institutions taking part in the program include Mount Royal University, University of Calgary, SAIT, Bow Valley College, Alberta University of the Arts, St. Mary’s University and Ambrose University, as part of a dynamic learning ecosystem that develops exceptional, creative homegrown talent who adapts in a fast-changing world.
The WIL pilot program showcases the collaborative effort to create an innovative Learning City where the next generation of bright minds with big ideas see their future and call Calgary home.
For more information on the Talent driver of the economic strategy, visit CalgaryInTheNewEconomy.com.