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Home » Education » Work-Integrated Learning is a Game Changer

In the midst of an increasingly competitive and rapidly-changing global market, Canada has emerged as a leader when it comes to talent development. It has taken a progressive stance in nurturing skills acquisition and work-integrated experiential learning (WIEL).

In 2017, the province of Ontario recognized the pivotal part experiential learning plays in education by mandating its inclusion in student curricula. More provinces are looking to follow suit, with the goal of having Canada strengthen its forward-thinking position as a country focused on encouraging youth to gain innovative skills. This comes at a pivotal point as industry, post-secondary institutions, and government shift their approach to one that enables post-secondary student — to enhance their career clarity, prove their skills, network more effectively with potential employers, and enhance their employability — all while still in school.

The evolution of work-integrated learning

Canada is being challenged with technology to innovate and adapt faster than ever and that means the shelf life for technical skills is reducing, necessitating a change in our approach to education. WIEL bridges the gap between schooling and work in a dynamic labour environment by embedding live, industry project-based learning into student learning, both in the classroom and beyond.While companies and post-secondary institutions are aware of the success of programs like co-op, there is less awareness of the tools and resources available that a company like Riipen offers to execute micro-experiential learning, shorter experiences that offer customizable, student-learning focused opportunities to work with off-campus employers on real-world problems and challenges.

Through its market-leading platform, — launched in Jan. 2017 — the Canadian firm makes work-integrated experiential learning accessible across a variety of industries. It has already supported over 20,000 student experiences in North America in the last two years, reaching over 150 campuses and 1,500 industry partners.

Anyone whose CV does not fully represent their capacities or aspirations can benefit.

Why is this a growing trend? Employers are realizing that building authentic, meaningful connections with a broad range of students helps them diversify their talent pool. Experiential learning also helps ensure the right fit, so that retention rates improve. And employers also benefit from engaging with youth as a novel way to gain Millennial insights, reach new audiences, and boost corporate social responsibility.

Work-integrated experiential learning helps students and job seekers overhaul and demonstrate their skills; anyone whose CV does not fully represent their capacities or aspirations can benefit. Imagine graduating from college with a CV that includes actual projects vetted by real employers! This is also a game-changer for new immigrants who Riipen is also working to support.

WIEL is also an effective, efficient way to gain up-to-date knowledge — a crucial factor as companies realize the need for continuous lifelong learning and higher levels of education from employees.

Empowering skill development — for all youth

Riipen’s platform enables efficient scaling since it enables experiential learning to be easily integrated into a for-credit course and allows companies of all sizes to participate easily — unlike internships and co-ops, which are more difficult to scale. This enables WIEL opportunities to be offered to all students regardless of geography, discipline, or background.

It also enables more efficient and effective matching of students, community organizations, employers, and instructors. Instructors can consult the company’s online library of experiential learning, containing thousands of examples for a broad range of disciplines to support comprehensive educational opportunities for students. In addition to in-class projects, Riipen also offers customized challenges and competitions to be deployed by partner institutions and student organizations.

As Canada aims to grow its skilled workforce, work-integrated experiential learning initiatives will play an even more important role in the future.

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