Quality Work-Integrated Learning Relies on Quality Partnerships

By Joe Baker, Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors

For as long as there have been tourism- and hospitality-focused post-secondary programs, there have been elements of work-integrated learning (WIL). Whether WIL manifested as apprenticeship, internships, practicums, or field placements, educators have known that careers in tourism and hospitality can be elevated through quality WIL experiences that complement academic curriculum delivery. 

In late summer 2021, Tourism HR Canada announced the launch of Propel, a federally funded Student Work Placement Program providing wage subsidies of up to $5,000 to employers who offer paid WIL experiences to qualifying post-secondary students. This was the first time in history that the tourism sector was approved to deliver this program—a significant recognition of the importance of Canada’s tourism sector and the need for strong ties between the education system and employers.

From the early days of the program, Tourism HR Canada developed a partnership with Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL). This partnership allowed for several collaborations including webinars, information sessions, podcast interviews, and other cross-promotional activities that extended Propel’s reach even further into the post-secondary network.

Nearly two years after the launch of Propel, Tourism HR Canada was present at the CEWIL 2023 Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Tourism HR Canada was a proud sponsor of this year’s CEWIL Conference, which sold out.

Joined by Philip Mondor, Tourism HR Canada President and CEO; Darlene Grant Fiander, President, Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, Executive Director, Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council, and Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors Chairperson; Keith Brown, Managing Director, World Tourism Institute at Cape Breton University; and Natalie Wood, Director of Talent & Culture, Cabot Cape Breton, I moderated a panel called Understanding Canada’s Tourism Industry: Importance, Impact, and Innovation.

While each panellist shared their unique perspectives to those in attendance, there was one dominant theme that bears repeating: somewhere between employers, educators, and the important not-for-profit sector lies an overlapping segment where all three groups come together to leverage each other’s strengths and offset each other’s limitations.

If work-integrated learning is to play a role in early talent development across Canada’s tourism sector, we will need to rely on stable and sustained partnerships.

For more information on Propel, please visit propelcareers.ca.

Joe Baker is multi-passionate entrepreneur within Canada’s tourism, hospitality and education sectors and a vocal advocate for an inclusive, future-forward industry. He is CEO at Joe Baker & Co., a consultancy specializing in thought leadership, human capital and operational excellence. He is also host of the newly released NO RESERVATION Podcast.

Joe serves proudly on the board of directors for Tourism HR Canada and Co-operative and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL).

Joe can be found everywhere @thejoebaker.

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