As we move into the new year, the reverberations of the substantial disruptions experienced last year continue. For both small businesses and post-secondary students, changes have been radical and difficult. While no one could predict how the year would unfold, it was far from what was imagined.
Over a quarter of businesses have laid off staff and two-fifths reduced hours since the start of the pandemic. About a fifth expect to raise prices and close to one-third do not know how long they can continue to operate at their current level. However, around three-quarters expect to keep the same number of employees for now, and have the cash flow required to continue to operate.
Similarly, from the initial closure of colleges and universities across Canada and the shift to online classes, academic life has not been the same. More than a third of Statistics Canada survey participants reported that their academic work placements were either delayed, postponed or cancelled. The majority also worried about having no job prospects in the near future, or the longer-term loss of jobs in their field.
The social and health impact of the pandemic has been extensive. According to The Mental Health Index™ by Morneau-Shepell, since the beginning of the pandemic full-time students have had the lowest mental health score (-24.3) when compared to working individuals across all sectors. Not far behind are those that manage companies or enterprises (-17.4), and educational service providers (-13.1).
The connection is clear. Companies are concerned about their financial and human resources, while students are worried about job opportunities and their career goals. Fortunately, there is an opportunity for these groups to come together.
As part of their economic recovery and to stay competitive throughout COVID-19, companies will need employees with future-relevant skills that are flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances. Students need meaningful and practical experience, now more than ever. We know from The Conference Board of Canada that one of the most promising ways to do this is by expanding access to work-integrated learning – experiences like co-ops, internships and applied research projects.
At Magnet, our partnership with the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) is helping to subsidize work-integrated learning for post-secondary students in small to medium-sized businesses across Canada. SWPP provides an opportunity for employers to access talent with financial support, and for students to gain paid work experience in relevant fields.
By matching businesses and student opportunity seekers, Magnet is working to accelerate inclusive economic growth. Meaningful placement opportunities will go a long way in ensuring students are ready and confident to kick start their career upon graduation, as well as provide hope during these challenging times. Providing support to a student while receiving a payroll subsidy is both a business benefit and a contribution to social responsibility.
Through Outcome Campus Connect (OCC), employers can register, get pre-approved for funding, and post a job with specificity – reaching students at university and college job boards, nationwide, from specific programs and regions. The goal of OCC is to give every university and college student or recent graduate at least 1 work-integrated learning experience before graduation, and prepare the next generation of leaders with what’s needed to thrive and build a better tomorrow.
SWPP placements are now available for the current winter semester. Eligible employers will be reimbursed for up to 75% of wages (to a maximum of $7,500) for each placement. Register today and be part of the progress towards recovery and rejuvenation.