Did you know that small businesses make up more than 98% of employer businesses in Canada and employ more than 10 million individuals? That’s a huge footprint and represents almost two thirds (64%) of the total labour force! Chances are, when you go shopping, dine-out, or visit a local coffee shop, you’re interacting with a small or medium-sized business.
Strong small businesses ensure resilient and sustainable communities, and SMEs are vital players in our collective sustainability agenda – particularly SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure).
For colleges and institutes, supporting SMEs means equipping students (especially diverse and underrepresented innovators) with skills to launch their own ideas confidently to help make our economy greener and fairer!
- From Algonquin College, George Brown College and Mohawk College, the brand-new four-year honours degree in business administration will help people working in the skilled trades grow their own businesses or pursue management careers. Starting in September, this is a first-of-its-kind degree program with all instruction provided virtually!
- At Keyano College’s School of Continuing Education, the Ed2go suite of courses are short and flexible online microcredentials that provide in-demand career training. The collection includes 15 courses tailored to help students succeed in the small business market with entrepreneurial skills such as how to finance, market, and manage a small business.
- Coast Mountain College’s series of Skills Development for the Entrepreneur microcredentials, offered in partnership with Ed2Go, help small business owners, or those looking to start their own business, increase their market share or bring their ideas to life.
- At Cégep de Jonquière, the TANGO entreprise-école connects students with small businesses to gain on-the-job experiences while under the supervision of instructors in business and management. Since 2008, the team has worked with more than 300 small businesses and helped countless third-year students develop their business know-how!
- Cégep Garneau’s Espace Entreprendre introduces students to the world of small business management, connects them to other entrepreneurs and encourages them to explore their entrepreneurial sides.
- The cégep is also home to the École d’entrepreneuriat de Québec (Quebec School of Entrepreneurship) that offers training and personalized mentoring for student entrepreneurs.
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Yukon University supports Yukoners starting businesses and developing new products and services with funding, resources, expertise, and incubation from beginning to end.
- The university is also a Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and works to identify additional barriers and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and provide support to overcome them.
- At Durham College, FastStart is a free, extra-curricular program designed to help entrepreneurial students develop and launch their own businesses while they study. Students develop valid business ideas, solid business plans, and marketing assets to take their products and services to market quickly and successfully!
- And at New Brunswick Community College, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program brings successful New Brunswick entrepreneurs to campus, giving students the opportunity to connect with those who can share their expertise, provide direct business advice, and help students further their own business goals!
SMEs are also partners of choice for college and institute applied research and innovation. In fact, the latest data shows that of 8,000 total college and institute applied research partnerships (67% were with SMEs who often do not have the capacity or resources to conduct cutting-edge research on their own)!
- Each year, more and more Canadian businesses of all sizes benefit from real solutions to real problems. And each year, more Canadians as a whole benefit from innovation that contributes to the long-term sustainability of Canadian industry.
June 27 is Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Day! Today (and everyday), be sure to support local MSMEs and think about how your own entrepreneurial skills, ideas and aspirations could help make Canada futureproof.