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June 1, 2020

Hands-on learning and pandemic recovery

Work-integrated learning has always been a critical component of the college and institute approach to post-secondary education, but like many activities around the world, it has largely been put on hold as measures came into effect to limit the spread of COVID-19. In fact, according to the results of a recent Statistics Canada crowdsourcing survey measuring the impact of the pandemic on the academic life of postsecondary students, about one-third of all participants reported that the pandemic resulted in the cancellation or postponement of their work-integrated learning. Relaunching internships, work placements, and other hands-on learning opportunities will be a priority for colleges and institutes all over Canada and will play an important role in the country’s economic recovery, especially when these placements are focused on innovation.

College and institute applied research leverages close ties with industry to both fuel innovation and provide valuable learning opportunities for students. In 2017-18, over 53,000 students participated in applied-research partnerships at college and institute laboratories and research centres supporting every sector of the economy, from advanced manufacturing and digital technology, to health sciences and tourism. These experiences provide students with an opportunity to practically deploy what they’ve learned while solving real-world problems and working with potential employers in their field.

Over 7,300 of these partnerships resulted in more than 4,400 prototypes, products, new processes, and streamlined services, 87% of which were completed in less than one year. To top it off, more than 77% of these partnerships were with private-sector partners, and most of these with small and medium sized enterprises.

Even in times of crisis, getting students involved remains a smart way to support community innovation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is expanding the Student Work Placement Program to allow students and employers greater flexibility and opportunity through nine delivery partners. The program is particularly valuable for under-represented groups such as women in STEM, persons with disabilities, newcomers, and Indigenous students.

Additionally, new funding opportunities are available to support and expand college and institute work-integrated learning and applied-research activities:

  • The Future Skills Centre is shock-proofing the future of work by investing $15 million in support of new labour market innovations building worker and organisation resilience and re-engineering systems and processes in the face of social and economic shock. Apply before September 1.
  • Mitacs is supporting post-secondary students through COVID-19 with $40 million in funding from the Government of Canada towards the creation of 5,000 new internship opportunities for students, including those supporting Canada’s small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • Changes made to the Student Work Placement Program(SWPP) will assist students and employers, including: post-secondary institutions are now eligible to hire students under SWPP and receive a wage subsidy, start dates and duration of placements will be more flexible, and students will be permitted to work remotely or from home.
  • Given concerns over COVID-19, CEWIL Canada recommends that employers and community partners consider alternatives to cancelling upcoming work-integrated learning opportunities.

When returning to traditional classrooms remains uncertain, hands-on work-integrated learning ensures that students don’t miss out on valuable opportunities and drives innovation to strengthen economic recovery.

Survey: Help us tell the Applied Research Story

Our Applied Research Survey gives us valuable data on how college and institute applied research builds communities, supports SMEs to develop products or services, and provides students opportunities for hands-on learning in an innovation environment. This data is essential in advocating for federal investment in applied research and enhanced institutional research infrastructure. In the current context, this information is more valuable than ever.

This year’s survey includes additional questions to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on applied research offices and activities. Complete the survey by July 10.

Watch our recent webinar for tips on completing the survey.

Participate in the new Globe and Mail feature on colleges and institutes

We are partnering with the Globe and Mail to prepare a new special feature on colleges and institutes, to be published on July 20!

Given the unprecedented situation we are living, the new special will focus on how your institutions are adapting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled Reimagining the learning experience, it will be an opportunity to showcase innovative strategies put in place by colleges and institutes to continue supporting their students and their communities.

View the PDF overview of the project for more details and deadlines. Please connect with Richard Deacon, National Business Development Manager at for more information.

A year-end update from CICan

Over the course of the past year, we saw some big wins in Ottawa as we focused on the future of education and workforce development. With such a great year behind us, we are putting together our Annual Report for 2019-20, which will be available online in the coming weeks!

As we’ve done for the past few years, we will be also hosting our Annual General Meeting virtually, connecting members online from coast to coast to coast!

Join us on Monday, June 29, 2020 at 12:00 pm EDT. Meeting delegates will receive the report of the Board of Directors and financial statements, appoint auditors, and elect directors according to new bylaws approved during the May 26 Special Meeting of Members. Documents and connection information were sent to all presidents and voting delegates on May 29.

We will also be taking time to present a college and institute president with this year’s Distinguished Service Award and recognize one of our partner organizations with the Award for Outstanding Partner. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate your colleagues!

Join us to celebrate another amazing year! Contact Amélie Cantin for more information at

Celebrate Canada’s graduating Class of 2020!

The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of this year’s graduates are missing out on graduation ceremonies with their family and friends.

Join WE CELEBRATE: CLASS of 2020 on June 6, 2020 at 8pm EST broadcast live on CTV! This national party will give Class of 2020 graduates the opportunity to celebrate the end of the school year with their classmates, communities, and peers across Canada!

You can also nominate a hardworking graduate to address all 2020 graduates across the country in a Canada-wide valedictorian speech! Nominate them to speak during the WE Celebrate pre-show on CTV.

Edge Imaging has prepared resources to share with students that will help make sure they don’t miss this year’s celebrations! Get lawn signs, banners, and posters; plan your event and invite friends and family using e-invitations. You can also get expert advice on how to throw a virtual graduation party to remember.

Participate in the new Inclusive Pre-Apprenticeship Pathways project

Our new Inclusive Pre-Apprenticeship Pathways project helps Canadians, particularly those from under-represented and disadvantaged groups, access and succeed in pre-apprenticeship programs; and captures lessons learned through piloting and evaluating of up to five pre-apprenticeship programs!

We’re looking for expressions of interest to join the pan-Canadian working group designing a framework for diversity and inclusion practices within pre-apprenticeship programs, or the pilot implementation and evaluation group. Submit a proposal before June 17!

The two-and-a-half-year pan-Canadian initiative is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Skilled Trades and Readiness Program.

Join us for a webinar on procurement strategies

The Canadian Collaborative Procurement Initiative (CCPI) is a Government of Canada approach to modernize procurement practices, and make procurement instruments available for use by provinces, territories, and members of the broader public sector, including colleges and institutes. In 2018-19, CCPI participants purchased $4.5 million in goods through this initiative! 

Join us on June 17 at 1pm to learn more about CCPI!

Learn about procurement opportunities available to colleges and institutes through CCPI, how to meet your buying needs and reduce cost, and how you can start taking advantage of opportunities through CCPI!

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Fredericton-based company is working on an app to revolutionize the way we wait, with the help of eight students from New Brunswick Community College (NBCC)? The 2metre app allows retailers and service providers to alert customers via text message when it’s their turn to enter the building. Retailers can then reduce security costs, and customers can practice physically distancing and protect themselves and others from the risks of COVID-19. Looking past the pandemic, the app could also help people organize their shopping and errands for maximum efficiency.


Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour announced the appointment of Elizabeth Kidd as the new president of College of the North Atlantic. Kidd has over 25 years of leadership experience and will enter into her new position effective June 1.

NAIT announced the appointment of Laura Jo Gunter as the institute’s seventh president and CEO, effective August 24. Gunter joins NAIT after serving as president of Bow Valley College for the past three years.

Vancouver Community College confirmed the appointment of Ajay Patel as the college’s president and CEO. Patel has been acting in the position since September 2019.

NorQuest College’s board of governors appointed Carolyn Campbell as the college’s new President and CEO. Campbell has extensive experience in public administration and post-secondary leadership. She will join NorQuest effective July 20.

Collège André-Grasset announced the appointment of Alain Desparois as director of studies for a mandate of 5 years effective this fall.

Justice Institute of British Columbia appointed Erin Ramsay as its next Vice-President, Human Resources, effective July 6.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.