BHER and Venture for Canada partner to provide innovative work-integrated learning experiences for students in Alberta



Ottawa, ON

The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) and Venture for Canada (VFC) are excited to announce a partnership to create 300 innovative work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Alberta. This partnership is made possible with support from the Government of Canada.

“Canada’s continued prosperity depends on young Canadians having access to the experience they need to succeed, especially as we work toward a strong and resilient economic recovery,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Our Government is proud to support the collaborative work between the Business + Higher Education Roundtable and Venture for Canada to help boost innovation, drive collaboration and create new work-integrated learning opportunities for Canadians in Alberta.”

The COVID-19 pandemic created profound economic challenges, making it difficult for students to find and participate in meaningful WIL experiences. The VFC Externship Program aims to fill this gap in Alberta by providing post-secondary students with the opportunity to participate in an ‘externship’ at an innovative SME.

“SMEs have been impacted the most by the pandemic. This has also meant more barriers and fewer WIL opportunities for students,” said Val Walker, Chief Executive Officer of BHER.  “This innovative program by Venture for Canada, in partnership with BHER, will connect soon-to-be graduates with Alberta’s entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses to help them respond, recover, and grow.”

An externship is an example of a high-quality WIL experience that employers can offer students in a shorter amount of time. This makes externships a more feasible option for Canadian SMEs, which can struggle to provide long-term opportunities. The VFC Externship Program fills that gap by allowing students to “dip their toes” into an area of work and develop career-relevant skills over the period of 40 hours. 

Employers benefit by gaining access to talent, which SMEs often cite as their biggest barrier to growth. VFC will engage with SMEs owned and operated by Albertans to provide these experiences, supporting the local economy.

“We are excited to improve access to entrepreneurial work-integrated learning for more students,” said Scott Stirrett, Founder and CEO of Venture for Canada. “We want students to walk away with a clearer picture of what new and exciting jobs, sectors, and people there are in their local economy.”


About the Business + Higher Education Roundtable

The Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization bringing together some of Canada’s largest companies and leading post-secondary institutions. Since 2015, BHER has worked to harness the strengths of Canada’s business and post-secondary education sectors to build opportunities for young Canadians, boost innovation and drive collaboration. Learn more at

Media Contact: Jennifer Schenkel – Senior Manager, Communications – Business + Higher Education Roundtable – 613-695-3511 – 

About Venture for Canada

Venture for Canada is a national charity that fosters entrepreneurial skills and mindset in young Canadians. We recruit, train, and support young people to work for innovative Canadian small businesses and startups. Through our programs, participants develop the network, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills to have more impactful careers.

Media Contact: Erica Ormiston – Marketing Lead – Venture for Canada – 902-220-7554 –