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Work-Integrated Learning: A Key Piece to Growing Canada’s Green Economy

As Canada actively works towards transitioning to a low carbon economy, job opportunities within the environmental and clean technology sector are growing rapidly. This, combined with our aging workforce, creates an opportune time for graduates to explore and pursue a career within Canada’s green economy. 

Work-Integrated Learning at a Glance

Work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences are a critical part of developing a highly skilled workforce that can fill existing and growing opportunities within Canada’s green economy. WIL enables students or graduates to gain hands on experience in their field and aims to combine academic studies with learning in the workplace. Fortunately, in recent years this style of learning has been prioritized by the government and within academic institutions. 

WIL experiences come in many forms: internships, co-operative education, and apprenticeships, to name a few. When proper mentorship and supervision is provided, each of these experiences provide benefits for students and graduates, as well as the organizations hosting them. Through Clean Foundation’s summer and professional internship programs, we have had the privilege of seeing first-hand just how valuable WIL experiences are.

Growing the Talent Pipeline

Transitioning from school to the workplace can be difficult for many. Fortunately, WIL experiences can act as a stepping-stone into the workplace, providing students with the boost and experience they need in order to succeed. Interns that have participated in our internship programs have developed crucial workplace skills, including communication, teamwork/interpersonal, critical thinking, problem solving, technical, and public speaking. Enhancing these skills ensures that in addition to the educational background that employers are looking for, the up-and-coming workforce also has the desired skillset and experience. 

Clean Foundation’s internship programs have enabled hundreds of students and graduates, both within Nova Scotia and across Canada, to see themselves as an important part of growing the green economy. In addition, it has allowed interns to explore careers that they hadn’t previously considered or, in many cases, even heard of. We feel confident that the internship opportunities that we provide at Clean are a part of growing the talent pipeline for green jobs. 

This internship went above and beyond my expectations and has given me a solid foundation for further education and a career in the green sector.”

Hailey Shchepanik, Cape Breton University

Finding and Retaining Talent 

One of the greatest benefits of internships and other WIL experiences for employers is that they offer a low-risk and effective way to evaluate someone as a potential full-time employee, a critical component to long-term retention. In fact, at the end of the 2019-2020 Clean Leadership Professional Internship season, 85% of intern participants gained full-time employment.  

Through the paid internship opportunities that we offer at the Clean Foundation and WIL experiences in general, organizations can gain new perspective and ideas for the development of existing and new projects. The positive feedback that we receive year after year has proven that host employers have and continue to benefit immensely from students or graduates that are eager to apply their knowledge and gain hands-on experience. Based on our experience, the need for the continuation and expansion of WIL experiences in order to grow Canada’s green economy is abundantly clear.

We had the privilege of working with an exceptional young person who pushed herself to learn more about land conservation and has contributed substantially to our organization’s recent achievements

Kelsey Hogan, Nature Trust- New Brunswick

In an ever growing and changing green economy, Clean Foundation is committed to continuing to support students, graduates and organizations working on environmental projects both within Nova Scotia and across Canada in order to develop a thriving and sustainable economy. Here’s to a greener tomorrow.

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