Career Kick-Start Strategy works to enhance experiential skills for students

Graphic by Alan Li

On April 27, the Government of Ontario announced that $190 million will be invested over the next three years into the new Career Kick-Start Strategy.

The new Career Kick-Start Strategy program has been created in order to combat the challenges many university graduates face when searching for stable and secure employment.

The Career Kick-Start Strategy encourages experiential learning in order for students to be able to better build their resumes and gain more hands-on experience in possible career fields.

“A lot of students find that there are a lot of challenges in regards to finding a career after they graduate, the government is now addressing that students should be having [a] hands on or jobs/skills oriented experience that is outside of the classroom, in order to build their skills and experience to get careers,” Stephanie Bellotto, vice-president of University Affairs, said.

Experiential learning has been a large focus for both Laurier and Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA).

“The main emphasis of experiential learning is to bridge the gap between in-class learning and the skills that employers are looking for potential employees to have when they’re hired,” Ian Muller, director of policy, research & advocacy for the Students’ Union, said.

A lot of students find that there are a lot of challenges in regards to finding a career after they graduate …

Laurier already has a number of initiatives on campus that support experiential learning and this new investment will aid the university in continuing with these efforts in the coming years.

The Career Kick-Start Strategy will work to enhance the career resources that are already available.

For example, the program plans to bring forth 100 paid internship opportunities for students.

Following the completion of their degree, students can work to pay off any debt they may have accumulated, in contrast to working for free to gain experience, Bellotto said.

“The government has indicated that they’re going to be supporting more opportunities for paid internships, [and] encouraging both universities and private employers to hire more students for work placements, co-op or other skilled based placements,” said Muller.

In addition to the paid internships that are being made available, the Career Kick-Start Strategy will also focus on investing in guidance and career counselling.

“There are many challenges to starting a career right out of post-secondary,” Bellotto said.

“This Career Kick-Start Strategy program can help transition [students] into careers and giv[e] people the experience needed to get those jobs.”

Although some of the new opportunities as a result of the funding are unknown at Laurier as of right now, the government hopes that the new strategy program will ultimately enhance the main experiential learning initiatives that Laurier already attains, in addition to creating more new opportunities.

“We won’t know the specifics,” Muller said, “but its encouraging because it emphasizes experiential learning which increasingly recognizes helping to allow students to take in-class learning and be able to translate it into ready skills so they are able to have a better opportunity to get employment once they graduate.”

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