Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) expanded their partnership with Venture for Canada (VFC) in August 2020, providing a total of $20 million to date in funding for student internships and entrepreneurial training as part of the Federal Government’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP).
Starting with a small cohort of 26 Interns in September 2018, VFC’s Internship Program has since created 1536 student internships with small businesses and startups. The latest round of funding ensures hundreds of additional internships will be supported into 2022.
“We are excited to continue to provide innovative entrepreneurial and skills-based training to Canadian post-secondary students from coast to coast,” says Scott Stirrett, Founder and CEO of Venture for Canada. “Investing in young people’s introductory engagement in businesses is instrumental for the innovation ecosystem.”
The program originally supported internships exclusively with Atlantic Canadian businesses, attracting and retaining young talent to the region. Explosive uptick in program interest allowed VFC’s Internship Program to expand its impact to British Columbia, Alberta, and the Prairies in 2020.
VFC Intern Employer partners include innovative SMEs such as SmartICE, FISPAN and 7shifts. SmartICE has hired 14 interns to support its growth over seven semesters, and CEO Carolanne Harding says, “A successful startup ecosystem is built on collaboration and partnership with a variety of stakeholders from all levels.”
Government support of the non-profit sector and small and medium size businesses is critical for Canada’s innovation sector. “Government and private industry have unique roles to play and when working together it creates the environment for startups to be innovative and fearless,” says Harding.
Support and collaboration drives all levels of VFC’s Internship Program. “Interns offer curiosity, creativity, and a digital native mindset to employers. In return these businesses give early work exposure that will successfully impact the career trajectories of these students,” shares VFC’s Partnerships Manager Jamie Proctor Boyce.
In addition to jobs, VFC Interns benefit from the VFC’s exclusive Virtual Training. The training is designed with the needs of innovative employers in mind, enabling them to add value immediately in their internship, and preparing students to navigate the future of work. Through onboarding webinars, entrepreneurial skills development, access to a custom LinkedIn Learning library, and the ability to build their own curriculum, internship participants have cumulatively completed nearly 15 thousand hours of professional development since 2018.
“Entrepreneurial and soft skills training are as important to us as the work experience,” says Gina Patterson, Director of Programs at VFC. “We see a gap in skills here, and we invest in these students both to make their internships successful, and to lay the foundations for successful careers. We’re excited to share our learnings with the growing WIL community.”
“Our Virtual Training has been designed to provide just-in-time, self-directed learning to interns when they need it most,” says Anna Smith, VFC’s Training Manager. “Interns can customize their training adventure with VFC — on their own, or with their supervisor’s guidance. Alongside their internship, they develop job-specific skills, or explore new ones outside their field of study. Plus, our innovative point system allows interns to unlock new, advanced opportunities, rewarding their investment in themselves.”
“I’m thankful for the webinars, homework, and professional development VFC offered,” says Phil M. VFC Intern in Edmonton, and current student at MacEwan University. “It was a privilege to have been accepted into the program. The content we were exposed to was so informative and helpful.”
About Venture for Canada
Venture for Canada (VFC) is a national charity that accelerates the careers of Canadian youth by providing immersive learning opportunities at Canadian startups and small businesses. VFC’s Internship Program surfaces interest in entrepreneurship in post-secondary students by providing cutting edge training and work integrated learning opportunities at local small businesses and startups. Over 730 Canadian small businesses have hired and received support through the Internship Program, with 100% sharing that they would recommend the program to their networks and 98% of VFC Interns would recommend the program to others. For additional information, please visit VFC’s website: https://ventureforcanada.ca/about-us