Employers across Canada now have a new one-stop shop for information about work-integrated learning (WIL).
Since November, the WIL Hub by the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) has been the destination for businesses, human resource professionals, managers and co-op offices looking for resources about work-integrated learning placements.
“Work is changing and so is WIL. These tools and resources reflect BHER’s commitment to developing practical, end-user-informed solutions to the challenges our stakeholders are facing,” said BHER chief executive Dr. Valerie Walker in a statement at the launch of the WIL Hub.
“They also reflect BHER’s commitment to creating meaningful WIL ecosystems and systems-level change for students, post-secondary institutions, and companies across Canada. Our WIL Hub is going to be a real game changer.”
Work-integrated learning can encompass many forms.
There are traditional types of WIL including co-ops, research projects, apprenticeships, internships, and field placements and newer types such as online projects, micro-placements, incubators, consultancies and hack-a-thons.
Matthew McKean, chief research and development officer at BHER, said the online hub is aimed at both businesses who have never participated in WIL before, and those who have but want to expand their programs.
“We want to build capacity among employers and in partnership with post secondary institutions, we want to create sustainable WIL,” said McKean.
“We want to count on placements in the long run, have them be there next year and beyond and we realize that having a employer-facing tool like the WIL hub is critical.”
One of the main features of BHER’s WIL hub is a Find Your WIL tool that can help employers understand WIL and decide which type would be the best fit for their organization after answering a few simple questions.
Described as the first of its kind, McKean likened it to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” tool for employers.
The second tool in the online WIL hub is the Return on Investment Calculator.
McKean said one of the biggest concerns raised by employers about WIL is not having the time or resources to do a cost-benefit analysis on taking on WIL students.
Modelled after a mortgage calculator often used by banks, employers can input estimated costs such as training staff wages and supplies against benefits such as gaining a skilled talent pipeline, which will save training resources if the WIL student is hired after their placement.
The WIL hub also contains a number of testimonials from employers across Canada who have implemented WIL placements in their businesses.
Employers can also find resources on implementing diversity, equity and inclusion policies, and soon, a microcourse on how to provide good mentorship.
The online hub is the result of more than 600 interviews with employers, the majority being small-to-medium sized business owners, on the types of WIL resources currently lacking in the market.
It is one integral part of BHER’s pledge to ensure that every post-secondary student in Canada can access quality WIL by 2028.
“The hub is accessible. It’s free and it’s evidence-based,” said McKean.
“It will continue to grow based on what employers tell us that they need.”