Student Work Experience Shown to Strengthen Canadian Bio-Economy Talent

BioTalent Canada released the impacts that student work experience—work-integrated learning (WIL)—has had on Canada’s bio-economy employers and student participants. As indicated in BioTalent Canada’s on-going Labour Market Information (LMI) study (LMI), WIL has helped close the talent gap in Canada’s bio-economy. It has also helped the industry to prosper through challenging times.

For its part, BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) has helped facilitate the relationships between employers and participants. Since 2017, more than 3,700 students have been placed with Canadian biotech and healthcare organizations in a myriad of roles. It was in 2020 that BioTalent Canada responded to COVID-19 and expanded the program to 1,500 healthcare roles within hundreds of organizations.

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“Work-integrated learning programs like SWPP are mutually beneficial for employers and participants in that they introduce industry to new talent and new talent to the industry,” says Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada. “We conducted a series of roundtables with 119 Canadian bio-economy stakeholders who echoed that sentiment. They identified placements as opportunities for employers and students to see if there’s a good fit between a student’s skills and interests, and the employer’s needs.”

Early results from BioTalent Canada’s LMI survey of over 500 employers indicate that recruitment in the industry remains a challenge. The full results will be released in comprehensive reports later in 2021 and will reflect the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the industry. The reports will include BioTalent Canada’s recommendations for addressing the challenges.

Taking advantage of WIL opportunities through SWPP will certainly be one of the recommendations. Results indicate it makes sense for more bio-economy employers to make co-ops and internships a primary recruitment source.

“We have first-hand knowledge that organizations actively participating in SWPP have more success in recruiting,” says Henderson. “In the past year, SWPP participants have made major contributions to employers across Canada at companies like CleanSlateUV in Toronto, the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton, and Outbreaker Solutions in Edmonton just to name three.”

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Some of the areas that SWPP participants have made a positive impact include:

  • assisting with specific projects, products, and processes,
  • increasing the capacity of teams, and
  • helping organizations meet timeline objectives and improve efficiencies.

The importance of a strong, robust pipeline of young and talented workers in helping to advance Canada’s bio-economy cannot be overstated. Despite the pandemic, the industry, globally, is in the middle of a growth curve that has it tracking to be one of the largest in the world. In Canada, programs like SWPP are helping to harness that advantage.

In addition to the LMI study reports, BioTalent Canada is also set to release, in March, a report highlighting the positive impact of its youth programs and will also include a new industry definition reflected from the LMI study.

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