As many businesses, post-secondary institutions and students move into uncharted territory regarding work and education this week during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) wishes to provide updates on our operations and work-integrated learning.
In order to ensure the safety and health of our team, starting today March 16, all BHER staff are working from home in an effort to protect each other and our communities. Our operations are ongoing and we will continue to be responsive to our partners and stakeholders as we move forward on our priorities, and theirs, during this period.
Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)
Over the past week, Canada has seen the vast majority of posts-secondary institutions cancel events, classes, and make transitions to online learning. These rapid changes in a matter of a few days demonstrate the severity and unprecedented nature of the impact COVID-19 is having on industry, institutions, students and our community partners.
In addition to transitioning towards new platforms for completing coursework for the semester, BHER understands that many students are concerned about summer work placements. To assist in navigating these uncertain times, BHER joins the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) in providing recommendations and best practices for student placements during this time.
First and foremost, we remind our members, partners and stakeholders to follow their institutional/organizational guidelines, public health and governmental directives. Additionally, BHER supports the following recommendations from CEWIL, which are designed to assist in providing guidance to employers and post-secondary institutions.
BHER and CEWIL Canada recommend that employers and community partners who have offered or were planning to offer a student placement for the upcoming spring/summer, consider the following alternatives to cancelling the upcoming WIL opportunity:
- Allowing the student to work for home if the organization can support this; and
- Consider moving the start date of the work term to June 1 to allow for a more fulsome assessment of the Canadian landscape regarding COVID-19.
We recognize the value that WIL has for industry partners, institutions and students and we are actively working to support employers and institutions in every way possible to mitigate potential losses of WIL experiences.
BHER recommends that students connect with their institutions directly to receive updates on directives for current and future work terms/placements. We firmly support the decisions of employers and institutions to move to virtual forms of interviews, job fairs and other types of employer and community engagement by using phone or video conferencing platforms. The use of these platforms will continue to be a best practice to operationalize these activities.
BHER wishes to thank our members, partners and the many leaders in the WIL ecosystem who are working to ensure the health and safety of all employees and students. At BHER, we know that our shared passion for the work we do, and collaboration amongst different players and sectors, will allow us to work through this difficult time together. We encourage everyone to stay safe and to play their role in social distancing as they are able.
About the Business + Higher Education Roundtable
The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2015, BHER has worked to harness the strengths of Canada’s business and post-secondary education sectors to build opportunities for young Canadians, boost innovation and drive collaboration. Learn more at www.bher.ca.
Brianna Workman – Associate, Communications – Business/Higher Education Roundtable – @email