With a provincial election around the corner in Ontario, students are starting to discuss the issues that they are passionate about. Students are concerned about issues revolving around the workforce, the economy, and experiential learning, and are looking for proposed improvements and solutions in these areas as they consider who to vote for.
As end of year exams are approaching, many students are thinking about how to take advantage of the summer months to complete an experiential learning opportunity, such as an internship, research assistantship, or work opportunity that is relevant or unique to their find of study. Experiential learning can offer post-secondary students opportunities to build on the lessons they learned in the classroom, developing skills that can complement the theoretical aspects of their education.. Whether it is an experiential learning opportunity, or a more focused work-integrated learning opportunity, students will find themselves equipped with more than just classroom knowledge after graduation. These opportunities can expose students to the real demands of the workforce in simulated, or actual, workplace environments that improve their skills and their employability.
It is essential that our province has a government committed to the success of students both inside, and outside, of the classroom. Continuing to invest in initiatives that directly support experiential learning opportunities that students will have access to will not only improve the overall learning of students, but will also equip them with the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow. Ontario needs a government that will foster stronger economic conditions for industry, community, and campuses to come together to provide these possibilities for students. We need businesses of all sizes, organizations, and not-for-profits to feel empowered to hire students, rather than deterred from bringing students into their operations.
Students are ready to engage with our communities and the workplaces within them. At Western, students from various programs across all faculties have been vocal about the need to build on their experiences in the classroom. Students want to apply their learning to community-projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities. They believe that by combining their curriculum with hands-on experiences, they will be better equipped to transition into Ontario’s workforce. However, this can only be done if businesses and community organizations are equipped with the right economic tools to provide experiential learning opportunities to students.
The Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel recommended that the Government commit to ensuring that every student has at least one experiential learning opportunity by the time they graduate. Following through on this recommendation is essential to not only the success of the current post-secondary population, but also to Ontario’s workforce and economy. This summer, students across this province will be looking for a government that is going to recognize the importance of bringing industry, community, and campus together to provide students with experiential opportunities, and prepare them for the workforce of today, and tomorrow.