BHER and GKWCC Partner to Create New Work-Integrated Learning Opportunities Within Small Businesses

August 18, 2020

OTTAWA, O.N. ー The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce (GKWCC) have partnered to create 200 new work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities with small businesses in the Kitchener Waterloo region, by expanding the Access Student Talent program.

“Canada’s continued prosperity depends on young Canadians having access to the education and experience they need to succeed,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “We’re proud to support the collaborative work between the Business + Higher Education Roundtable and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce on their new work-integrated learning opportunities for young Canadians across the country.”

Access Student Talent is made possible by a $367,853 investment from the Government of Canada through BHER. This support will allow the GKWCC to increase small business participation in WIL by educating employers on WIL, building new connections between employers and post-secondary institutions, and creating important resources.

“I couldn’t be happier that BHER has partnered with the GKWCC to support the increased participation of small and medium-sized companies in WIL,” said Val Walker, BHER CEO. “We know Canada’s small business community has faced significant challenges during the pandemic and that Canadian students are eager to get to work. Our support of the Access Student Talent program won’t just help the Kitchener Waterloo region, but learnings from the program will support employer associations in other parts of the country to expand WIL in their member companies nationally.”

The scalability of this new program is reflected in the local and national goals of the partnership. In addition to connecting SMEs and post-secondary institutions locally, the GKWCC will also be creating a “How-To” guide for the Access Student Talent model that will be shared with Chambers and associations across the country who are interested in building stronger relationships between students and the business community.

“The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to be partnering with BHER to support our Access Student Talent program. We consistently hear from our members that attracting and retaining talent as a small business is challenging. One way that businesses can address these challenges is to engage with student talent. Not only does working with students provide businesses with temporary resources that can increase productivity, but it can also help businesses to build their talent pipeline and provide them with an injection of creative and innovative ideas; this type of assistance can be especially helpful to businesses as they reopen. The Access Student Talent program has had a positive impact on local SMEs and students since its launch in 2018; we look forward to expanding the impact of the program within our region, as well as providing support to other communities who are interested in connecting SMEs and students,” said Ian McLean, President & CEO, Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.

Canada’s SMEs are the core of the Canadian economy and their success is critical to Canada’s economic recovery. Connecting these businesses with the country’s next generation of talent will strengthen the growth and development of students, businesses and Canada as a whole.


Media Contact: Brianna Workman ー Associate, Communications ー Business + Higher Education Roundtable ー 613-695-5138,

Media Contact: Allison Mitchell ー Program Manager, Access Student Talent ー Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce ー, 226-338-5681.

For more information about Access Student Talent can be found here.