The following letter was shared with Members of Parliament and Senators.
July 11, 2017
I am writing to ask for your support in ensuring that the students and graduates of your local college, institute, polytechnic or cégep are given full access to the new funding for work‑integrated learning placements announced by the federal government in Budget 2017.
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) members, consisting of over 125 educational institutions in every province and territory, warmly welcomed the government’s investment of $221 million in work‑integrated learning placements for post-secondary students and graduates through Mitacs, a non-profit organization that offers research internships that connect students with industry. Until now, Mitacs internships have been open only to university graduate students but the wording used in Budget 2017 is clearly inclusive of all post-secondary students and graduates, including those studying at colleges, institutes, polytechnics and cegeps.
Expanding eligibility for Mitacs research internships will yield important benefits for students, employers and local economies alike. For college, institute, polytechnic and cegep students, the chance to play a lead role on an applied research project with an employer will ease the transition between study and work and provide hands-on experience in contributing to company innovation. For employers – most crucially, small- and medium-sized enterprises – Mitacs provides access to highly-skilled individuals who have the capacity to develop products and innovations that can be quickly commercialized. And communities and local economies benefit on both counts: from a talent pool with more skills and experience and from a business community able to undertake new innovation activity – resulting in the creation of new, good-quality jobs and a stronger middle-class.
The current limitations of Mitacs’ programming are frustrating companies and employers that want to work with our members. They are unable to access the technicians, technologists, designers and developers who have the skills and hands-on training they need. They have clearly stated that direct exposure to industry is an invaluable advantage for graduates joining the labour force, with many Canadian employers reporting that skills shortages have prompted them to leave vacancies open because they cannot find anyone with the right experience.
CICan, together with Polytechnics Canada, is actively pursuing discussions with federal officials and Mitacs about how to implement the 2017 Budget commitment. In the meantime, I urge you to contact the president of your local college, institute, polytechnic or cegep to learn more about how this new federal funding can make a difference for the students and companies in your region. Their stories will clearly demonstrate that communities across Canada have the capacity to foster inclusive economic growth and create well-paying middle-class jobs by capitalizing on their strong academic-employer connections.
President/CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada