The Importance of Engaging with Post-Secondary Students

An active growing economy is a healthy economy. But how can businesses grow when there is a talent deficit? As expected with retiring baby boomers, Canada’s economy is going through a talent shortage making it important for small businesses to get engaged with post-secondary students for the future. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce report, Obstacles and Opportunities, states that small businesses make up 98% of businesses and two-thirds of all private sector employment in Ontario. Engaging with post-secondary students can be an important part of a business’s talent strategy that will help them to grow and succeed. Are you curious how post-secondary students might benefit your businesses? Keep reading!

  1. Post-secondary students are the future of today’s economy.

Within the last decade, the millennial population has grown significantly. According to The Globe and Mail there are approximately seven million people between the ages of 15-29 who will take social and economic challenges into their own hands. How do we test their skills now in order to prepare for the future?

Engaging with post-secondary students not only fulfills short-term talent needs for smaller businesses but it also helps businesses prepare their talent pipeline for their future needs, which is our future economy. When students have the opportunity to connect with businesses, they develop the skills and experience that employers require. Businesses who engage with students have the opportunity to shape the future talent pool.

  1. Post-Secondary students bring “fresh eyes” and a unique set of skills.

What are “fresh eyes”? Fresh eyes are what individuals have when they are new to the company and don’t know all of the nitty gritty details of it. Students are able to pull knowledge from their studies directly into the workspace while also bringing innovative ideas to the table. According to Scientific America, creative output first starts spiking around mid-20s, which is why building a talent pipeline with students for the future is so important in cultivating talent. With a fresh set of eyes, outdated processes at work can be modified or upgraded to save time and money. Engaging with post-secondary students can provide small businesses with valuable external insights such as answers to unsolved problems. This can be very beneficial for small companies as an outside unbiased opinion provides a different perspective to issues that are usually addressed in similar ways by the same people.

Additionally, students have grown up in a technologically advanced economy so they are able to bring technical skills that businesses may not currently possess. Since post-secondary students have grown up with technology, they have up-to-date technological skills. This is beneficial for a growing technologically advanced economy.

  1. Post-secondary students are temporary.

Engaging with students is a temporary talent solution. This means that businesses do not have to financially commit to a long-term employee. If a business hires a co-op student, it is a low cost temporary talent solution that provides businesses with resources full time for a 4 month period (sometimes 8-12 months). For those businesses who are not able to hire co-op students, there are other paid and unpaid experiential opportunities offered by post-secondary institutions. These opportunities include practicums, capstone projects, part-time project work and many more which come in a variety of different lengths.

  1. Engaging with post-secondary students through the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce’s (GKWCC) Access Student Talent initiative helps to more easily connect with post-secondary students.

Here at the Chamber we provide an Access Student Talent initiative that helps small businesses more easily connect with post-secondary students. This can be through low to no cost ways including co-op terms, project work, and other experiential learning opportunities. We help reduce the time constraints of finding a school that would be the best fit and gathering information by working as a liaison between businesses and the post-secondary institutions. The post-secondary institutions that the initiative collaborates with are the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.

Interested in becoming involved? It is as simple as providing us with the details of what you are hoping to achieve and we can help connect you with the post-secondary institutions. For more information, please visit us at or contact Allison Mitchell.