Vancouver Island University (VIU) and North Island College (NIC) are working together to boost work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for students and support employer access to the workforce of the future.

An Employer Facing Resource

Launched in October 2020, the Vancouver Island Work Integrated Learning (VIWIL) hub is a website platform connecting WIL employers to students. The one-stop-shop hub aims to create new mutually beneficial opportunities for students and employers north of the Malahat on Vancouver Island. The project also includes a partnership with Mitacs and RBC Foundation to focus on rural employer needs.

This is a big step forward in engaging with rural employers to expand WIL opportunities for students outside of the Capital Regional District. Both institutions have campuses in Cowichan, Nanaimo, Powell River, Port Alberni, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Ucluelet, and Bella Bella.

“The students that we serve are often in remote or rural areas so their access to work integrated learning and opportunities can often be quite limited,” shared Anita Budisa-Bonneau from NIC during a TV interview with Insights & Business.

As employers and students are spread out across the island, this often makes it difficult for employers and WIL students to connect. Employers may struggle with finding the appropriate student talent to fill their needs.

A Focus on Streamlining Employer-Student Connections

Vanessa Stratton from VIU notes that, “The focus of our hub is to engage employers, give them reassurance, and help them find the appropriate student to build their business and gain success during COVID.”

Not only does the VIWIL hub enable individual employers to post jobs that will then be seen by emerging student talent at all the campuses of both NIC and VIU, but Chambers across Vancouver Island will be able to direct their members to the hub.

The VIWIL hub houses resources for employers to meet their needs such as: information on the types of WIL, the benefits of hiring WIL students, the hiring process, and pathways to receive funding. Employers will also find suggestions on writing the job posting, mentorship tips, and contact information to ask questions of employment engagement staff at NIC and VIU.

The project came about because NIC and VIU had similar challenges due to their more rural locations. Challenges such as ensuring that students in all of their program areas had opportunities available to them. The priority for them was improving awareness on what is WIL, addressing labour market shortages on the island, and providing solutions for the difficulties employers face in hiring. The VIWIL hub is the first step towards the solution.

Further Reading

The VIWIL hub has been featured in Academia, local news in Comox Valley and Powell River, as well as a TV interview on Insights & Business.

VIWIL’s Social Media:

Twitter – @viwilconnect

Facebook – @viwilconnect

Instagram – @viwilconnect

Linkedin – @viwilconnect