March is National Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Month, celebrating the successes and promoting awareness of these essential links between education and industry.
Tourism, hospitality, and travel employers have access to a distinct Student Work Placement Program, Propel. Funded by the Government of Canada and coordinated by Tourism HR Canada, Propel connects employers with post-secondary students looking to complete a WIL placement as part of their studies. Generous wage subsidies are available for each qualifying placement.
The program has proven to be an important part of the recovery of the sector. Exit surveys show the many benefits to both employers and students: engaging early talent looking to explore careers in the sector, developing hands-on skills for soon-to-be graduates, and offering an additional recruitment pathway for employers.
Employers Cite Diverse Benefits
Employers who have taken part in Propel reported a high level of satisfaction with the students’ performance during the work placement experience, with all respondents stating the placement benefitted their company and two-thirds stating they would consider hiring the student long term.
Employers highlighted a range of benefits, including:
- Access to the creativity, knowledge, and skills of post-secondary students
- Ability to address short-term workflow pressures
- Opportunity to contribute to improving post-secondary curricula
- Opportunity to build stronger connections to education institutions (i.e., continuous source of new talent)
- Productivity and service delivery enhancements
- Opportunity to provide a social good
- Opportunity for branding and to promote/market the business among students
When asked about future plans to use student work placements to support their human resources planning (e.g., integrating regular student work placements, using student work placements as a recruiting strategy, hiring previous students), all employers stated they either were already or plan to employ student work placements to support their organization’s hiring practices.
Students Ready to Launch
From the student perspective, over 80% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their placements, with over 90% stating they received the support they needed to be successful and that they gained valuable experience that would help them in the workplace after graduation.
Participants stated that the placements were a good balance between comfortable and challenging, with lots of opportunity to build and strengthen skills in a more professional setting. They praised the ability WIL offers to gain industry insights and cover a variety of job functions. Students were given continuous feedback throughout their placements, and they noted that managers and colleagues frequently checked in and ensured the students had all the training, resources, and support they needed. Students enthusiastically described the fun atmosphere and wonderful people at their respective workplaces.
Propel participants highlighted that the program enabled them to gain experience that would benefit them in the workplace after graduation and allowed them to build a professional network that would assist them with achieving future career goals. They particularly noted the ability to strengthen the following key skill areas:
- Communication (verbal and written)
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Relationship building and networking
Employers also noted students increased their subject-specific and technical knowledge, their ability to work under pressure, their ability to work with others, their ability to work independently, and their motivation to learn.
Learn More About the Propel Student Work Placement Program
Propel is now open for summer placements, and continues to accept applications for wage subsidies for existing WIL placements. Find out more at the next virtual information session, taking place Thursday, March 23 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time—registration is available here.