While Alberta’s job numbers continue to hum along, growing a pool of young, skilled talent has been a focus for Calgary Economic Development (CED).
One year ago, CED launched the Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) pilot program, and just this April their platform, TalentEdYYC, which connects students looking for jobs in their career field with small- and medium businesses, went live.
By the end of May, WIL had matched 16 students with places to work.
“The idea is to make it sort of a one-stop shop for (SMBs) in terms of any of the resources that they might need or information that they might need around hiring students and also for them to post opportunities for students directly into that portal,” said WIL’s executive director, D’Andre Wilson.
On Friday, the Government of Alberta heralded new Statistics Canada data that showed an increase of 10,600 more employed workers in Alberta.
“Alberta continues to be the economic and job creation engine of Canada with our highly skilled workforce, business-friendly policies, diversified economy and affordable and exceptional lifestyle,” said Matt Jones, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade.
“Our robust economy continues to grow, creating jobs across our province and reinforcing the Alberta Advantage.”
That said, across Canada, the employment rate among students – particularly among females – had dropped. The employment rate for male students was unchanged on a year-over-year basis.
WIL was struck as a partnership between CED and seven post-secondary schools to help build a bridge between students looking for work and SMBs with opportunities. It’s also supported by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations. Jobs are posted and dispersed to jobs boards at the advanced education schools.
“We’re supporting non-profits as well, those who may not have the capacity and resources of a large HR team, a campus recruitment team,” said Wilson.
“We’ve really tried to make it as easy as possible for those smaller organizations to get their opportunities in front of students.”
Providing opportunities for youth
Studies have shown that the out-migration of youth in Calgary has increased. While some of it has to do with a perception of a lack of vibrancy and diversity, it can also be linked to the perceived employment opportunity – outside of oil and gas.
Wilson believes that this is a great tool to help change that.
“There are lots of other opportunities here in Calgary,” she said.
“So, for those students that maybe aren’t sure if they want to work in energy, or the oil and gas space, allowing them to see all of these other amazing opportunities with small businesses that are starting to grow here in the city, and with non-profits that are doing great work in the community.”
Sixteen students were placed as of the end of May, but nearly 40 opportunities had been posted. Wilson wants to scale up those connections between young, skilled workers and the local companies they can help.
The pilot is scheduled to run through March 2025. The goal is to support 1,000 Calgary businesses – and youth – in creating pathways to employment.
Wilson said it’s all free for businesses to use, including the support to find, hire and examine potential wage subsidies.
“We’re going to walk you through the process. We want to help you,” she said.
For more information on the WIL program, visit the TalentEDYYC website.