As organizations across BC pivot to the post-pandemic reality, workplaces with a history of hiring work-integrated learning (WIL) students say they expect to return to typical hiring levels, and in some industry sectors, WIL hirings are expected to surpass historical norms.
According to a series of surveys, focus groups and interviews conducted by the BC Work Integrated Learning Council between September 2020 and May 2021, 90% of respondents agree that the outlook for WIL engagements in their organization is promising.
“For this first of its kind initiative, 19 public post-secondary institutions across BC reached out to employers and community partners who typically hire students from work-integrated learning programs,” explains Julie Walchli, Chair of the BC WIL Council, an independent council of the Association for Co-operative Educational and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL) which is comprised of one member from each public, post-secondary institution in BC.
“These organizations understand how WIL students add value and though many were forced to reduce WIL student hiring during the early months of the pandemic, most quickly pivoted to remote or hybrid work models and began to resume close to normal WIL hiring as early as September 2020.”
The survey results highlight the rise of hybrid work, with 28% reporting a hybrid work environment for WIL students in the Spring 2021 survey, and 18% of respondents planning for WIL students to continue working in a hybrid model post-pandemic. Still, in-person work is essential for certain types of WIL placements, which explains why sectors such as accommodation and food services reported only 61% of usual hirings between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, but expect hirings to be at 122% of usual for the following 6-12 months.
Survey respondents also revealed the biggest challenges affecting WIL student hiring, which included finding and obtaining funding for students and other economic and financial issues. As well, respondents acknowledged the challenges with recruiting, onboarding and supervising students remotely. To help address these challenges, survey respondents prioritized resources to help with funding and wage subsidies as well as with navigating WIL programs and recruitment.
“Workplaces can reach out to WIL program experts at the 25 public, post-secondary institutions across BC for support, as staff have the knowledge and experience to help,” says Anna Jubilo, president of ACE-WIL. “As well, ACE-WIL BC/Yukon has developed resources to help employers get started with WIL, post opportunities, get funding information and research WIL programs offered in BC, all of which are available through the ACE-WIL website.”
For key survey findings and the detailed report, visit the WIL Employer/Community Partner Survey Project housed within the ACE-WIL Resource Hub. For additional information, contact Julie Walchli, BC WIL Council Chair, or Camilo Peña-Moreno, Manager, Special Research Projects, The University of British Columbia.