Career Ready Fund & Riipen Delivering Thousands of WIL Experiences for Ontario Students
Toronto, January 2019 - Dave Savory, Co-Founder & Director of Industry Partners at Riipen with the Career Ready Fund
Earlier last year, the Career Ready Fund (funded by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Colleges, and Universities) and Riipen launched an initiative to create thousands of work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for post-secondary students. The goal is to help students across the province gain industry-relevant skills and opportunities to develop their professional networks before graduating.
The way my own graduating class gained real-world, professional experience was through multiple full-time co-op work terms. The opportunities and experiences that they provided were and will always be invaluable. My first tech start-up experience was a co-op placement with an internet travel company in Victoria, BC that had just raised a $750,000 seed round. It’s impossible to replace or simulate working in a real-world organization - the problems you'll have to solve, the people you’ll meet, and the personal growth you'll experience in a very short period of time.
The challenge with enabling all students to experience the benefits of work-integrated learning is that co-ops aren't scalable. Supporting a meaningful co-op work placement as a business is a big commitment and not all organizations can spare the resources (both in time and money) for it to be successful. There are approximately 2,000,000 post-secondary students in Canada alone, and about 75,000 co-op work placements.
How are the other 95% of students getting relevant experiences?
Colleges and Universities are the primary providers of skills training for emerging talent, which is why it’s imperative for our economy that they are aligning their curriculum with the needs of industry. One of the most scalable ways of doing this is through Project-Based Experiential Learning, which embeds real-world industry projects into academic life and often directly into the curriculum. This provides students with a more engaging learning experience, opportunities to interact with a broad range of industry partners throughout their degree, and the opportunity to develop the right skills employers require to be successful in their industries.
The team at Riipen has been working directly with educators, industry partners, and students for over 3 years to create real-world, project-based experiences that are embedded into the curriculum. Drawing from thousands of real projects launched on the platform, the Riipen team has developed an industry leading technology that streamlines the creation and execution of project-based experiences.
With support from the Career Ready Fund, Riipen has been educating and on-boarding businesses keen to engage Ontario post-secondary students with project-based opportunities. The goal is to create and deliver over 7,000 student experiences in just three academic terms. Since the launch at the beginning of the summer semester in May 2018, close to 20 Ontario post-secondary schools and hundreds of employers have collaborated on projects that aligned to students’ curriculum, providing just over 3,000 students with a real-world project experience. Learn about one of these innovative collaborations at the blog link below.
Heading into the winter semester, several thousand more Ontario students will receive a real-world project opportunity with employers of all shapes and sizes. If you’re interested in learning more about Riipen and the Career Ready Fund please message me on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're also looking for new partners, feel free to check out the Riipen platform to view available opportunities.