Riipen and Rural Development Network Partner To Help Rural Canadian Businesses and Non-Profits Level Up Their Work Through Learner-Powered Projects

December 2, 2021

Rural Community, Alberta, CANADA, Dec 2, 2021 -- Riipen, the world’s largest online marketplace for work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences, is proud to announce Rural Roots, a collaborative program in partnership with Alberta-based Rural Development Network (RDN), Portage College, Mount Royal University, Medicine Hat College, and MacEwan University to connect rural businesses and non-profits across Canada with post-secondary learners to advance their labour market and workforce skills through short-term virtual WIL projects.

Funded by the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), with support from the Government of Canada and RBC Future Launch, RDN's Rural Roots program will aim to engage 2,000 rural employers across Canada with the opportunity to participate in virtual WIL opportunities with post-secondary learners that break down traditional barriers to access and promote equitable routes to Canada’s economic recovery.

"We're excited to partner with Riipen and match businesses and non-profits to virtual opportunities and student talent through work-integrated learning placements," says Daniela Seiferling, Project Manager at RDN. "The Rural Roots initiative provides an opportunity to support rural based organizations and address various human resource challenges, like recruitment and retention."

As communities across Alberta and Canada recover from the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, rural businesses and non-profits continue to face pre-existing gaps in resource allocation and talent acquisition that are crucial to sustainable growth.

“It is really exciting to see this alignment with industry and academia on work-integrated learning,” said the Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education. “Learning directly from mentors and seasoned professionals – while getting real-life work experience – is one of the best ways to set students up for success in their future careers. Expanding work-integrated learning opportunities is a key initiative under the Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs Strategy and critical to our economic recovery, with the goal of offering every student in Alberta a work-integrated learning opportunity.” 

“For rural based organizations, ambitious ideas for growth and upscaling are often shelved due to lack of resources,” said Dana Stephenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Riipen. “The Riipen marketplace opens up countless opportunities for these organizations to connect and work with diverse learner talent beyond their local talent pool. Learners on our platform are experts in a wide breadth of subject areas and are enthusiastic to gain real-world work experience to put theory to practice, while earning course credit. We are looking forward to partnering with RDN in making the benefits of WIL more accessible for the unique rural businesses and non-profits that enrich our communities.”

“Work-integrated learning has the potential to be a game changer for ambitious students seeking the skills and experience they need to get hired in a competitive labour market,” said Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Economic Development, The Honourable Nate Horner. “I’m proud to support the Rural Development Network and Riipen’s launch of Rural Roots, which will support communities across Alberta by addressing the unique needs of rural job creators and non-profits.”

Through the Rural Roots program, rural businesses and non-profits can sign up for a Riipen account and submit their proposed projects. The marketplace’s matching and recommendation engine will then help connect them with educators and learners with the relevant expertise until a mutual match is found. Project communications, deliverables, and feedback can all be tracked and managed on the Riipen platform.

Interested parties can learn more about the program and sign up at learn.riipen.com/ruralroots 


About Riipen: Launched in Q1 2017, Riipen is the world’s leading online work-integrated learning platform, connecting educators and learners with employers through highly flexible and scalable WIL solutions. On a mission to eliminate underemployment, Riipen has built a robust marketplace of over 400 higher education and training providers and 17,000 employers, delivering over 100,000 WIL experiences to help learners enhance their skills, build their professional network, and accelerate their path to a meaningful career. Using technology and marketplace dynamics to break down traditional barriers to WIL access, Riipen is looking to bring the Future of Work to diverse learners of all backgrounds.

To learn more about Riipen and how you can engage with work-integrated experiential learning, visit our website at riipen.com.

Media Contact:

Angel Tian, Marketing Communications Manager, Riipen

T: 778-400-5369


About RDN: The Rural Development Network (RDN) is a not-for-profit partnership of five Alberta post-secondary institutions dedicated to addressing key issues in rural communities at a local level. RDN supports the sustainability of rural communities by amplifying the “rural voice” and collaborates to identify and bring focus to rural issues, build local capacity, and find innovative, rural-based solutions to unique issues.

Media Contact: 

​​Dee Ann Benard, Executive Director, Rural Development Network

T: 780-964-2736 x 7