In case you missed it on Sept. 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to the University of Saskatchewan to discuss federal spending plans geared to help students bridge the gap between academia and employment.
Minister of Employment, Workforce and Labour Patty Hajdu explains that the proposed funding of $73 million and partnerships with employer groups will create up to 10,000 work-integrated-learning positions for university students across the country, and that number should be reached over four years. Additionally, a further $221 million over five years should create 50,000 total placements for graduate researchers.
Work-integrated learning includes internships, apprenticeships and co-operative placements.
Success in programs like these has predominantly been in in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as business and education.
Pari Johnston, Universities Canada vice-president policy and public affairs, says over half of undergraduates already take advantage of work-integrated-learning opportunities, but Universities Canada hopes to eventually have 100 per cent coverage.
While the benefits seem boundless, it’s only fair to take this all with a grain of salt. There are questions to be asked here, and bigger issues to consider.
Which students will this funding direction benefit most? We are likely going to continue to see disparity in support for various programs. Different students will have different access. I suppose it boils down to accessibility, or numbers or whatever the hell brass tacks are. I’m not going to say I know for sure, but I think it is important to ask here: are we perpetuating any greater social barriers with this program?
What do you think? Drop a line at thesheaf.com or tweet with the hashtag #sheafhottakes and let’s talk.
Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor
Photo: Jessica Klaassen-Wright / Editor-in-Chief