Congratulations are in order! The World Association for Co-operative and Work-Integrated Education (WACE) has presented the 2023 Employer/Partner Contribution Award to Robert Douglas and Brian Train, both with the BC Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. The award is in recognition of and appreciation for their outstanding contributions to work-integrated learning (WIL) in BC over many years.

The WACE awards are prestigious and highly competitive; recipients are selected from a strong field of submissions from around the world. The Association for Work Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL) and the BC Work Integrated Learning Council (BC WIL Council) jointly submitted the nomination, with support of WACE member Julie Walchli (UBC), and we’re thrilled that Brian and Robert were honoured with this award.

“The vision and advocacy Brian and Robert have demonstrated has played a pivotal role in creating awareness about the importance of experiential learning, fostered collaboration between academia and industry, and bridged the gap between theory and practice,” says BC WIL Council Chair Heather Workman.

ACE-WIL President Stephanie Greaves says of the two recipients, “Their dedication, commitment, and expertise have contributed to the growth and development of post-secondary learning in our region, which we are then able to share with our WIL colleagues across Canada and internationally.”

In 2019 and again in 2021, Brian and Robert developed and oversaw the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills’ historic $14.5 million funding of 119 WIL projects at BC’s 25 public, post-secondary institutions through the Co-op and Work-Integrated Learning Fund initiative.

In Phase 1, priority was given to collaborative projects that brought greater cohesion to projects involving multiple institutions. This resulted in stronger, more coordinated ecosystems across WIL programs at individual schools and across the sector.

In Phase 2, the funding prioritized projects that supported WIL student experiences, particularly from underrepresented groups such as Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

This phase resulted in nearly 5,000 new experiences being created in 2021-22, at a time when WIL programs were focused on rebounding after the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through this work, these two colleagues enriched the educational outcomes for countless students and helped to equip them with the skills and experiences necessary to excel in their chosen fields and ultimately shape a more positive future.

“We’re grateful for their longtime support; they are true friends of WIL and our community,” adds Heather. “Be sure to congratulate them in person at the ACE-WIL Conference next May!”

Photo, from left: Andrea Giles, Julie Walchli, Stephanie Greaves (President, ACE-WIL), Award winners Robert Douglas and Brian Train (BC Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills), Heather Workman (Chair, BC WIL Council) and Danielle Johnsrude. Photo by Ani Sugiarto. Download photo.