If you want to prepare your business for the future, harness local universities’ and colleges’ greatest resource: students.
That’s the message Universities of Canada president Paul Davidson shared with Sudbury businesses in March, although it can be applied across Ontario. The Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and Huntington University hosted the talk.
“The skills currently being learned will determine Canada’s prosperity in the years to come,” said Davidson, who pointed out that there is an aging workforce, with more Canadians over 65 than under 18.
These skills, he said, should be gained through real world experience with local businesses and organizations.
“I admire his focus on fostering productive relationships with business, municipalities, other levels of government, students, colleges, other higher education organizations and the not-for-profit sector,” said Laurentian president Dominic Giroux.
“It’s still and quiet on the surface in Sudbury,” said Davidson. “But people are beginning to see what’s going on underneath.”
Underneath are scores of students ready and willing to gain experiential learning through local businesses, according to Davidson.
“People wonder how come universities are stuck in their ivory towers and don’t want their students to get their hands dirty,” said Davidson. “In fact, where we need the greatest help, we need more employers to step up to take the students that want to work. Students are keen, keen, keen to get in the real world.”
The Canadian Chamber recommends that the government provides more financial incentive for co-op students, especially to smaller enterprises. Co-op and internship students add real value to organizations, contributing new ideas and energy, employers at small and medium enterprises (SME) told Universities of Canada in a recent survey.
“The students here in Sudbury are hard at work right now looking at new ways to solve problems and they have a lot to offer the private sector and community organizations,” said Davidson. “I wonder what work is underway that will take away our breath in 30 years.”