March 29, 2019
TORONTO, ON - This morning, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) released a policy paper that focuses on preparing students for the workforce in Ontario. The paper was written, approved, and published by students and provides recommendations aimed at ensuring students have the proper skills to succeed after graduating from Ontario’s universities.
“Our data shows that only one in three of our students are receiving experiential learning opportunities and that our students would like to see more of them,” said Shannon Kelly, OUSA’s Vice President Finance and student author at Laurier University. “This paper puts forth recommendations to increase experiential learning opportunities in the province, including co-op placements, entrepreneurship grants, and community service learning.”
Concerns highlighted in this paper include financial and structural barriers to experiential learning and entrepreneurship opportunities, gaps in skills development opportunities, and limitations in existing employment and labour protections for students completing work terms or co-ops. It highlights the importance of providing students with opportunities to develop skills through experiential learning and entrepreneurial opportunities that will prepare them for employment post-graduation.
“This marks the first official policy paper that specifically relates to student entrepreneurship,” said other Julia Göllner, OUSA’s Vice President Administration & Human Resources and student author at Queen’s University. “As we move into the digital age and as the workforce evolves, advocating on issues related to entrepreneurship and innovation is both essential and incredibly exciting.”
Overarching recommendations include: making experiential education more financially and practically accessible to students in all disciplines, including those in co-op or work-integrated learning opportunities; providing funding and guidance to support human skills and professional development; strengthening employment and labour protections for students when they are on work terms; and supporting post-graduation retention for international students.
Specifically, students recommend that the provincial government: invest in creating and expanding meaningful and relevant experiential learning opportunities; ban accreditation bodies from requiring or supporting unpaid placements, and revisit the Employment Standards Act to include students and ensure they receive fair compensation and protections in the workplace. Additionally, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Council of Ontario Universities, and Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario should conduct research to assess the quality and affordability of work-integrated learning, and contribute to strengthening the frameworks and best practice systems that support students pursuing experiential learning opportunities.
This paper was written by students from OUSA member associations and presented to the OUSA Spring General Assembly on March 3rd for approval. To read the paper, please click here.
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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Operations & Communications Director
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance