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Innovation through Co-operative Education

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 10/12/2016 1476309077
Introduction CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education) is the voice for post-secondary co-operative education in Canada. Co-operative e .... Read more

Introduction

CAFCE (Canadian Association for Co-operative Education) is the voice for post-secondary co-operative education in Canada. Co-operative education (co-op) programs alternate periods of academic study and work experience in fields that are relevant to students’ programs of study. Students are given opportunities to test their theoretical knowledge in real-world contexts, explore a variety of careers before fully entering the workforce, and earn both valuable experience and compensation.

Co-operative education is a foundational part of Canada’s reputation as a nation full of innovative, skilled entrepreneurs. When students participate in co-op programs, they develop the professional skills — communication, teamwork, problem solving — that employees and creators need to thrive in the future economy. They’re also given the chance to watch and learn from existing innovators in their communities.

CAFCE recommends Industry Canada consider the following options as a means of furthering its Innovation Agenda:

Canada Innovation Co-op Grants

Startups and innovation businesses should be encouraged to hire Canadian co-op students through the establishment of a grant program.

How would this work?

The grant program would involve the development of partnerships between post-secondary institutions and businesses meeting a set of eligibility requirements. A portion of the grant funds would be put towards a percentage of students’ salaries, making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to pursue innovation and plan for additional hiring.

The grants would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution, i.e. more grants for provinces with a greater number of enrolled co-op students. The grants would also be spread equitably across the country’s various innovation sectors. A cap on eligible business size would be implemented to ensure the grants benefit startups and small businesses. The number of grant-eligible hires per fiscal year would also be restricted to ensure the grants’ reach across as many businesses as possible. Finally, an additional incentive could be implemented to encourage innovative businesses to hire students looking for their first co-op position.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • The creation of ground-level partnerships between startups and small businesses and post-secondary institutions (e.g. RIM’s relationship with the University of Waterloo)
  • Immediate incentives for innovation companies and startups who can support the hiring of co-op students.
  • Increased opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in Canada’s various innovation sectors.

Co-op Entrepreneurship Program

A scholarship for co-op student innovators should be established, encouraging students to spend a term developing their own ideas and/or companies with fewer financial restrictions.

How would this work?

Scholarships valued at $10,000 per work term (four months) would be offered to student innovators intent on spending their terms developing their own ideas or enterprises. The scholarships would be distributed across Canada’s provinces and territories based on a prorated distribution and would be awarded based on applications. The collection of applications and delivery of funds would be coordinated with students’ post-secondary institutions and advertised on campuses and through institutions’ co-op programs.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • Canada’s innovative capacity would increase through the support and development of aspiring entrepreneurs in a co-op context.
  • The program would encourage the development of students’ entrepreneurial mindsets and innovation skills while still allowing them to experience formalized co-op programs. Students who haven’t actively considered entrepreneurship could be encouraged to give it a try by the provision of a considerable scholarship.

Mitacs Undergraduate & Graduate Co-op Program

Mitacs should expand its operations by introducing a series of co-op-specific awards at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Co-op student recipients would spend a work term in a Mitacs-endorsed research environment, developing their skills and contributing to their employers’ innovative efforts. These awards would augment Mitacs’ existing efforts to expand and support research-based innovation in Canada.

How would this work?

Many post-secondary institutions already have a relationship with Mitacs because of its research funding, training, and support for international research collaborations. The new program would build on these pre-existing relationships and the associated infrastructure. The resulting co-op opportunities with researchers across the country would yield benefits for post-secondary institution, Mitacs, and its partners.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • Co-op students interested in research and innovation would have a new way to pursue appropriate employment within their chosen field.
  • Increased partnership between Mitacs and post-secondary institutions will reduce competition for talented students, and it can create opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and resources.
Credit: Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE)

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Talent and knowledge mobilization / Talent et mobilisation du savoir

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/16/2016 1474055228
In Canada’s sesquicentennial year, over one million undergraduates are entering university halls across the country. These students are the foun .... Read more

In Canada’s sesquicentennial year, over one million undergraduates are entering university halls across the country. These students are the foundation of Canada’s innovative future. Canada’s universities are committed to equipping these students with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish in work and life, empowering them to contribute to Canada’s economic and social success.

We need to do better as a country to meet the aspirations and unlock the potential of Indigenous youth – their community’s future leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Currently, only 11 per cent of Indigenous peoples aged 25 to 34 in Canada have a university degree, compared to 33 per cent of non-Indigenous Canadians in the same age group.

  • Universities Canada aspires to significantly reduce the gap between the university participation rate of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians within the next ten years, by increasing federal financial assistance to Indigenous students and institutional efforts.
  • Universities Canada also recommends supporting more Indigenous students to pursue graduate and post-doctoral studies, growing the cohort of Indigenous university faculty and researchers and boosting their engagement in Canada’s innovative future.

Through work-integrated learning, hands-on research training, and global experiences, Canadian university graduates are educated in a culture of innovation and prepared with 21st century skills including flexibility, adaptability, and an openness to risk-taking.

We support the call by the Canadian Business/Higher Education Roundtable for access to work-integrated learning for 100 per cent of Canadian postsecondary students.

  • To support this goal, Universities Canada, along with national business and student groups, recommends investment in new federal measures, such as vouchers and tax credits, to incentivize employers – particularly in small- and medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profit organizations – to create more paid co-op and internship placements across disciplines and address the barriers employers face in offering such placements.

Canada’s universities are dynamic and supportive partners in helping businesses and not-for-profit organizations solve their problems. One of the greatest contributions universities make to innovation is equipping their graduates with the skills, knowledge and mindset to contribute to our contemporary and future economy. Through a range of knowledge mobilization activities – hands-on learning experiences of co-op students and graduates, community service and outreach, public policy engagement, inter-sectoral partnerships, and the commercialization of research – universities contribute to innovation, prosperity and the quality of life in Canada. Such a flexible approach is needed as no one-size-fits-all approach will suit the diverse needs and capabilities across Canada’s regions. Commercialization contributions are made by universities as valued research partners and through knowledge spill-overs in the form of spin-off companies.

  • Canada’s universities have proven themselves to be prolific generators of new ideas and designs, but R&D assistance is needed in the start-up phase to bridge the capital and financing gap between the initial idea and venture capital stages of the commercialization wave.
  • Targeted support should also be provided to encourage incubation and acceleration on university campuses, and to facilitate access to risk capital. Our graduates abound with ideas, but help is needed to develop strong and nimble start-ups that can grow into globally competitive companies.

Universities can also provide support to young companies by helping educate business talent in areas where we know Canada needs improvement – training executive talent with the ability to scale-up small start-ups, and building know ledge of sales into the business curriculum to assist small companies to grow.

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À l’approche du 150e anniversaire de la Confédération, plus de un million d’étudiants au premier cycle font leur entrée à l’université d’un bout à l’autre du pays. Ces étudiants sont le fondement de l’innovation future au Canada. Les universités s’engagent à inculquer à ces étudiants les compétences et le savoir dont ils ont besoin pour s’épanouir sur les plans personnel et professionnel, et ainsi contribuer à la réussite économique et sociale du Canada.

Le Canada doit faire plus pour concrétiser les aspirations et réaliser le potentiel des jeunes Autochtones, qui seront les dirigeants, les innovateurs et les entrepreneurs de demain dans leurs collectivités. À l’heure actuelle, seulement 11 pour cent des Autochtones de 25 à 34 ans possèdent un diplôme universitaire, comparativement à 33 pour cent des Canadiens non autochtones du même groupe d’âge.

  • Universités Canada aspire à réduire considérablement l’écart entre Canadiens autochtones et non autochtones en matière de taux de fréquentation de l’université au cours des 10 prochaines années par la hausse de l’aide financière fédérale aux étudiants autochtones et des initiatives des établissements d’enseignement.
  • Universités Canada recommande également d’appuyer un plus grand nombre d’étudiants autochtones pour qu’ils entreprennent des études aux cycles supérieurs et au niveau postdoctoral, d’augmenter le nombre de professeurs et de chercheurs autochtones, et d’accroître leur participation à l’innovation future du Canada.

Par l’apprentissage intégré au travail, la recherche sur le terrain et les expériences à l’étranger, les diplômés universitaires canadiens sont formés au sein d’une culture d’innovation et acquièrent des compétences du XXIe siècle, dont la souplesse, la capacité d’adaptation et une ouverture au risque.

 

Universités Canada appuie les revendications de la Table ronde de l’enseignement supérieur et les entreprises, qui réclame l’accès à des expériences d’apprentissage intégré au travail pour tous les étudiants canadiens de niveau postsecondaire.

  • À cette fin, Universités Canada et d’autres groupes nationaux étudiant et des milieux des affaires et recommandent au gouvernement fédéral d’investir dans de nouvelles mesures, comme des bons et des crédits d’impôt, pour inciter les employeurs – surtout les PME et les organisations à but non lucratif – à créer plus de stages rémunérés dans toutes les disciplines et à résoudre les difficultés qui les empêchent d’offrir ce type d’expériences aux étudiants.

Les universités canadiennes sont des partenaires dynamiques qui aident les entreprises et les organisations à but non lucratif à trouver des solutions à leurs problèmes. Une des plus grandes contributions des universités en matière d’innovation est de donner à leurs diplômés les compétences, les connaissances et la mentalité nécessaires pour participer à l’économie du XXIe siècle. Les universités contribuent à l’innovation, à la prospérité et à la qualité de vie des Canadiens grâce à diverses activités de mobilisation du savoir. Il suffit de penser aux programmes d’enseignement coopératif qui offrent aux étudiants des expériences d’apprentissage sur le terrain, aux activités de service à la collectivité, à la participation à l’établissement des politiques publiques, aux partenariats intersectoriels et aux activités de commercialisation de la recherche. La souplesse est de mise, car il n’existe pas de démarche unique en mesure de répondre aux besoins des différentes régions du Canada.

Les universités contribuent à la commercialisation de la recherche en agissant comme précieux partenaires de recherche et en favorisant la transmission du savoir par le démarrage d’entreprises.

  • Les universités sont une source intarissable de nouvelles idées, mais elles requièrent du soutien en recherche-développement (R-D) pendant la phase de démarrage pour faire le lien entre l’idée initiale et les capitaux de risque nécessaires à sa concrétisation pendant le processus de commercialisation.
  • Il faut également offrir un soutien ciblé pour favoriser l’incubation et l’accélération sur les campus et faciliter l’accès au capital de risque. Nos diplômés ne manquent pas d’idées, mais ils ont besoin d’appuis pour mettre sur pied de jeunes entreprises solides et souples en mesure de devenir concurrentielles à l’échelle mondiale.

Les universités peuvent également soutenir les jeunes entreprises en offrant une formation en administration des affaires dans les domaines où le Canada peut faire mieux, soit en formant des dirigeants à faire croître des entreprises en démarrage et en intégrant des connaissances sur les ventes aux cours des programmes de commerce pour aider les petites entreprises à grandir.

Credit: Universities Canada / Universités Canada

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Support Experiential and Work-Integrated Learning

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/30/2016 1472566792
At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learn .... Read more

At Sheridan, we know learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.  We prepare our students for the future economy through experiential learning (curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular) and work-integrated learning (co-op, internships, practicum, etc) as part of our education.  Students benefit from opportunities where they can practice, experiment, apply theory, make mistakes, and develop employability skills.  These links between curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular develop well rounded students that are flexible, adaptable, and future ready.  We have learned that our mutually beneficial partnerships with employers and industry are critical to successfully providing experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities for our students.

Credit: Sheridan Student Affairs

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Four Ideas to Grow Innovative Talent

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/12/2016 1471029760
Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce &ldquo .... Read more

Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce “made-in-Canada” talent: the highly qualified and skilled workers that Canadian businesses and organizations seek.  Without better labour market forecasting, Canada cannot build an inclusive talent pool for the 21st century workplace.  We present four ideas below:

  1. Direct Statistics Canada to create, deliver and disseminate high-quality, current, relevant and comparable labour market information.

This information will benefit learners and employers and encourage informed choices about careers and jobs by providing data on skills-in-demand, employment outcomes by education type, demand for work-integrated learning, apprenticeship completion rates

2. Create a Youth Entrepreneur Seed Fund to support students enrolled in post-secondary institutions to acquire vital entrepreneurial skills.

Polytechnics and colleges offer many services, courses and centres to help young entrepreneurs. Current federal support for young entrepreneurs exists as repayable loans only; we propose a grant program for students working under the guidance of an instructor or mentor.

3. Create an innovation-focused internship program connecting polytechnic and college undergraduate students with firms and non-profit organizations.

This work-integrated learning initiative will build applied research and innovation skills, as well as enhance graduate employment outcomes, while also addressing employer need for workers with innovation skills.

4. Expand existing research talent programs at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to increase participation by polytechnic and college students.

Evidence shows that real-world research is conducted by collaborative teams, across the credential spectrum. Yet, programs designed to mentor the next generation of researchers are primarily open to graduate and post-doctoral researchers because of a narrow interpretation of terms and conditions. These programs should include the talent produced by polytechnics and colleges.

A polytechnic education builds resilient and resourceful workers for the 21st century economy.  These talented learners should be included in any government action for equipping youth with entrepreneurial and creative skills.

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Make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/09/2016 1470776531
People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individu .... Read more

People innovate. Whether it takes the form of a new product, new process, or new markets, the introduction of innovation is done by visionary individuals who see how to do things differently. A successful innovation strategy must therefore start by fostering the talent, skills and opportunities required for potential innovators to thrive.

The need for innovators intensifies as the economy continues to move towards an innovation-focused, high-value service base. Already, Canada’s service economy employs about three quarters of Canadians and accounts for 70.8% of GDP — a 5% increase since 2000. Financial services, environmental services, water-management services, and IT services are all areas where Canada is a world-leader, thanks in part to the innovators who have built world-class firms in these growing sectors.

The trend towards an economy built on innovative services is intensifying as the knowledge economy evolves. We are entering what has been called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” where disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology are quickly transforming the ways we live and work. As a result, the skills Canadians need for career success are also changing, and employers increasingly demand workers with a wide range of skills and functional knowledge.

An effective innovation strategy will respond to these trends by supporting the effective education and training of future innovators. To do so, Canada needs to increase the number of work-integrated learning opportunities for students in order to grow talent and skills, and to prepare the next generation for a rapidly changing economy. In order to “futureproof” a workforce, the World Economic Forum reports that “government and businesses will need to profoundly change their approach to education, skills and employment,” and they recommend enhanced collaboration between businesses, governments and education providers in developing 21st century curriculums.

There are some caveats: students should be paid; the learning opportunities should be relevant; and the experiences should be meaningful. The idea is that the opportunities are collaborative, and mutually beneficial. By connecting young minds with dynamic Canadian businesses, we can grow Canadian talent for innovation, strengthen the employability of post-secondary graduates, and provide businesses with the specialized knowledge, skilled talent and fresh perspectives they will need to adapt and innovate.

If Canada is serious about becoming an innovation leader, we need to make work-integrated learning opportunities the cornerstone of the Innovation Agenda.

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Fab Labs Nation

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/11/2016 1468243720
Le français suit. The “Fab Labs Nation” project proposes a concerted strategy to equip Canada with a digital manufacturing interstructur .... Read more

Le français suit.

The “Fab Labs Nation” project proposes a concerted strategy to equip Canada with a digital manufacturing interstructure that makes it possible to promote, entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs of the future as well as innovation in communities and businesses.

A Fab Lab is a collaborative innovation laboratory equipped with digital production machine tools (3D printers, laser cutters, digital milling machines, etc.) and an innovation accelerator where students, engineers, inventors, creators and all those who have a project gather to go from the idea to the object. The Fab Lab offers its users the means necessary for professional digital design to conduct collaborative innovation projects, access to quick prototyping.

A true international community gravitates around the Fab Labs, by implementing laboratories in hundreds of cities and villages. The potential which emanates from them for economic and social development steadily increases and is explored in numerous sectors: health, creativity, education, entrepreneurship, etc. The Fab Labs are part of an open innovation movement and are the tangible tools of a Smart City.

 

L'initiative « Fab Labs Nation » propose une stratégie concertée pour doter le Canada d’une interstructure de fabrication numérique permettant de favoriser l'entrepreneuriat et la création d'emplois d'avenir, l'innovation dans les communautés et les entreprises.

Un Fab Lab est un laboratoire d’innovation collaborative équipé de machines-outils de fabrication numérique (imprimante 3D, découpe laser, fraiseuse numérique, etc.) et un accélérateur d'innovation où les étudiants, les ingénieurs, les inventeurs, les créateurs et tous ceux qui ont un projet entrepreneurial se réunissent pour passer de l’idée à l’objet. Le Fab Lab offre à ses usagers les moyens de conception numérique professionnel nécessaires pour mener des projets d’innovation collaboratifs, l'accès au prototypage rapide.

Une véritable communauté internationale gravite autour des Fab Labs, par l'implantation de laboratoires dans des centaines de villes et villages. Le potentiel qui en découle pour le développement économique et social croit sans cesse et est exploré dans de multiples secteurs : santé, créativité, éducation, entrepreneurship, etc.. Les Fab Labs font partie du mouvement d'innovation ouverte (open innovation) et sont les outils concrets d'une Ville intelligente (Smart City).

 Source : http://www.communautique.quebec/portfolio-items/fablabs-nation/?portfolioID=33

 

 

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Expand access to high-quality work placement opportunities

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 06/22/2016 1466623252
Anyone who's tried to break into the job market can tell you that most employers ask for 2-3 years of experience, even for entry-level jobs. Work plac .... Read more

Anyone who's tried to break into the job market can tell you that most employers ask for 2-3 years of experience, even for entry-level jobs. Work placement programs, like co-ops, internships and apprenticeships, are an invaluable way for students to get real experience in the workplace to complement their technical skills, while helping defray their tuition costs and reducing the level of debt they graduate with. Making high-quality work placements available to more students will equip Canada's youth for today's (and tomorrow's) competitive labor markets. But this isn't just a matter of giving more funding to existing programs. There are serious gaps and shortfalls in the way that work placement is carried out today, which is one reason why there's such a wide disparity in outcomes from post-secondary education. The federal government has a great opportunity to fill in those gaps. By doing so, it will lay the groundwork, not just for a more productive labour force, but for a more inclusive economy.

The quality and availability of work placement programs varies greatly between fields. Students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects can find rewarding co-op jobs at high-profile and exciting firms. Arts students, who make up the largest part of the undergraduate class at most universities, have far fewer opportunities to gain relevant and high-quality experience in the workplace than their peers in STEM fields. 

Just as important, there is a huge variation in the quality of work placement positions even within the same field. Many employers use students as a source of cheap, temporary labour with no regard for their career development. Computer science students who fail to get their dream jobs at Google might find themselves working in a call center instead. Internships can be rewarding, enriching experiences- or the exact opposite, sometimes even within the same organization. Worse, it can be impossible for applicants to know what kind of experience they'll get from a given posting.

This means that students with limited financial resources can't rely on co-op programs or internships for income through their studies. They might well find that a minimum-wage job flipping burgers or stocking shelves, which offers reliable income without needing to sit through extensive interviews or buy expensive work attire, makes more financial sense than trying to find a co-op or an internship. These students are being left behind, working dead-end jobs while their better-off peers compete for plum assignments. 

The intense competition for the best work placements means that they're likely to go to financially secure students who are highly motivated, have good interpersonal skills, and who are studying high-demand subjects- in other words, the same people who would probably be able to find a good job after graduation no matter what. 

To expand students' access to high-quality work placement programs, the Government of Canada should:

  • Encourage employers to use work placement programs for fields and occupations that so far have been under-represented;
  • Facilitate new or reformed work placement programs to better meet the needs of employers in fields that traditionally haven't employed students;
  • Ensure that work placement offerings are aligned with the future job prospects of graduates, so that every student has the ability to launch their career with a work placement opportunity;
  • Create programs aimed at students who are a poor fit for traditional work placement opportunities, such as those with language deficits, disabilities, or those who lack developed interpersonal skills for the workplace;
  • Ensure that employers are open and transparent in their job postings about the type of position they are offering, the scope of work, the degree of responsibility, and the skills the experience will foster; and,
  • If necessary, amend existing programs to prevent employers from posting jobs that do not provide a valuable experience to students.

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