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New partnership expands student talent program for local businesses: GKWCC

The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce says this partnership will benefit small businesses and students
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Co-workers in an office. Stock photo.

Over 200 new local work-integrated learning opportunities will be popping up for students, thanks to a partnership between the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce (GKWCC) and the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER).

According to a release, BHER helped GKWCC secure a $367,853 grant from the Government of Canada to expand the current Access Student Talent program. 

“Canada’s continued prosperity depends on young Canadians having access to the education and experience they need to succeed,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, in the release. “We’re proud to support the collaborative work between the Business + Higher Education Roundtable and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce on their new work-integrated learning opportunities for young Canadians across the country.”

The release says Access Student Talent has been connecting student talent with local businesses since 2018.

With this grant, funding will go towards increasing small business participation within the program, along with educating employers on work-integrated learning, and building new connections between employers and post-secondary institutions. Support will also go towards creating important resources for Access Student Talent.

Val Walker, BHER CEO, says Canadian small businesses have faced challenges during the pandemic and that Canadian students are ready to get to work.

“I couldn’t be happier that BHER has partnered with the GKWCC to support the increased participation of small and medium-sized companies in WIL,” said Walker within the release, "Our support of the Access Student Talent program won’t just help the Kitchener Waterloo region, but learnings from the program will support employer associations in other parts of the country to expand WIL in their member companies nationally.”

GKWCC President & CEO, Ian McLean, says he is thrilled about partnering with BHER to support Access Student Talent and helping other communities to create similar programs.

"We consistently hear from our members that attracting and retaining talent as a small business is challenging." said McLean in the release. "One way that businesses can address these challenges is to engage with student talent."

"Not only does working with students provide businesses with temporary resources that can increase productivity, but it can also help businesses to build their talent pipeline and provide them with an injection of creative and innovative ideas; this type of assistance can be especially helpful to businesses as they reopen."

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