How Work-Integrated Learning Can Support Your Talent Pipeline Development

The workforce is changing rapidly and a concern for businesses, both large and small, is talent attraction. Many businesses and not-for-profit organizations are searching for ways that can help to attract and retain quality talent in Waterloo Region. Building a talent pipeline is often considered an effective strategy for recruitment as it identifies and engages with potential candidates for future opportunities at the organization, ultimately investing in the future of the business.

Working with students through work-integrated learning is a great way for organizations to build their talent pipelines and prepare for the future of work. Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an umbrella term used to describe the process of learning where students incorporate what they have learned academically in a workplace setting or with an industry partner. There are a number of ways that businesses and students can work together through work-integrated learning, including field placements, in-class projects, and co-op work terms to name a few. To learn more about work-integrated learning, visit BHER’s WIL Resource Hub.

On November 24th, 2021, the Access Student Talent program hosted a webinar (as part of the Greater KW Chamber’s Business Success Webinar Series) where we heard from panelists Margie McLean and Samantha Nemec from KW Habilitation. Margie, Communications Coordinator, shared insight into her experience working with students and spoke on the benefits her organization has gained when taking a strategic approach to building a talent pipeline. Samantha discussed her experiences with work-integrated learning while in school, as well as her experience transitioning from post-secondary student to employee at the organization.

Samantha was enrolled in the Public Relations program at Conestoga College and through this program, she completed a field placement and a co-op work term. Samantha’s co-op work term was as a Communication Assistant with KW Habilitation. Upon graduation, Samantha applied and was the successful candidate for a full-time Communication and Fund Development Coordinator role at KW Habilitation. In the webinar discussion, Samantha highlighted that the transition from WIL student to full-time employee was seamless due in part to the fact that she had obtained knowledge and skills from her time in co-op at KW Habilitation. She was able to resume specific projects that she had worked on during her co-op time and start working with her supervisor, Margie, on a work plan developing future strategies for the organization.

Margie shared insights on the value that KW Habilitation has experienced when hiring recent grads, who had worked with them as students, into full-time roles with the organization. She mentioned that KW Habilitation has hired a number of students upon their graduation.d  KW Habilitation leverages the long-term value of continuing their relationships with students they work with, which has helped the organization build their talent pipeline and reduce costs and recruitment time.

Participating in work-integrated learning can be a strategic approach for small organizations as they plan for the growth and scaling of their companies. Employers can enhance their talent strategy by connecting with post-secondary students and building those relationships while the students are still in school. Through work-integrated learning, organizations get the valuable opportunity to evaluate and observe potential future hires at a low or no cost. Many organizations choose to hire the skilled students that work with them upon their WIL completion and graduation because they have already gained extensive knowledge and experience within the organization and within the role. KW Habilitation is a local example of how working with students can be a great way to build future talent pipelines.

For more information on KW Habilitation’s experience working with post-secondary students, click here to watch the full webinar recording of Building a Better Workforce Connecting Students and Business or watch the video below. The Access Student Talent program is available as a free service to Chamber members and non-members to help you explore the ways you can start working with students. If you are interested in learning more about how a student can support your business, contact us today!