Investing in new work-integrated learning opportunities

Alberta’s government is helping students gain hands-on skills by supporting Calgary Economic Development’s new work-integrated learning (WIL) pilot program.

Advanced Education is investing $2.5 million towards the pilot, which will create a one-stop online portal for work-integrated learning opportunities that can be accessed by students at all seven post-secondary institutions in the Calgary region.

Students gain crucial workplace experience from industry experts through work-integrated learning placements while employers gain access to the talent they need to grow their businesses. Job placements through the program can be offered as co-ops, internships, applied research projects or field placements.

“Work-integrated learning opportunities are extremely valuable for our province. They provide students with the chance to apply the skills they learned in the classroom and bolster their resumés with on-the-job experience. Work-integrated learning benefits students, employers and our whole economy.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

Calgary Economic Development will develop a one-stop online portal for WIL opportunities in the region, ensuring they align with the eight sectors identified in Alberta’s Recovery Plan and that new programs don’t duplicate existing ones.

Future Skills Centre, a pan-Canadian initiative funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program, is providing $2.9 million for the pilot.

“Work-integrated learning is an important tool to build a learning nation, and we saw early potential in this pilot to evolve the approach through a more coordinated, regional and sector-wide approach. This work can immediately contribute to Calgary’s economic transformation and recovery while also providing insights for a more systematic way for employers to collaborate with post-secondary institutions."

Pedro Barata, executive director, Future Skills Centre

“Work-integrated learning is vital to helping provide Calgarians with pathways to impactful careers in a variety of high-demand and emerging sectors. This collaboration, including all seven of Calgary’s post-secondaries and local employers, is an exciting major step towards ensuring that Calgarians will have opportunities to advance their job skills and enhance Calgary’s talent pool for our future economy.”

Brad Parry, president and CEO, Calgary Economic Development

“Mount Royal University is grateful to the Government of Alberta for this funding. Work-integrated learning provides our students with valuable opportunities to work with experts in their field and gain experience that enhances their degrees and helps them launch their careers and make meaningful contributions to society.”

Elizabeth Evans, interim provost, Mount Royal University

“Post-secondary students are our future, and this funding will help more students gain valuable skills and experience, which will boost their chances of successful employment post-graduation. The Council of Alberta University Students looks forward to future announcements and investments into the post-secondary system from the Government of Alberta.”

Tera Cardinal, vice-chair, Council of Alberta University Students 

“A strong workforce is key to a thriving economy, but labour issues remain a primary concern for our business community’s current and future growth. By investing in all stages of our talent pipeline, we can address the talent shortfall currently experienced in our business community, as well as equip our workforce with the practical skills needed to capitalize on economic opportunities in Calgary. We see this initiative as critical to the long-term prosperity of Calgary’s economy.”

Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO, Calgary Chamber of Commerce

“Work-integrated learning is the backbone of an excellent student experience. It teaches skills that aren't traditionally taught in the classroom and provides valuable networking opportunities to students and employers alike. The students of ASEC are pleased to know the government will be supporting Calgary's work-integrated learning programs and look forward to similar rollouts across the province."

Savannah Snow, chair, Alberta Students' Executive Council

Investing in Alberta’s workforce is key for economic recovery

This investment is the latest initiative that will help bring more work-integrated learning opportunities to students across the province. Since 2020, the ministry has invested $11.1 million into WIL programming.

The Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy is a transformational vision and direction for Alberta’s higher education system, which will develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, strengthen innovation and commercialization of research, and forge stronger relationships between employers and post-secondary institutions.

Quick facts

  • Recently funded work-integrated learning opportunities include:
    • In October 2020, Advanced Education invested $5 million per year for three years with Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation by solving challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.
    • In July 2021, Advanced Education announced $3.6 million over a three-year period to three industry associations supporting more than 620 WIL opportunities under the WIL Industry Voucher Pilot program.