Dear CEWIL Canada Members,
I am so happy to be able offer you warm holiday wishes as President of our association. It’s a busy time to hold a leadership role within CEWIL during this time of unprecedented attention toward work-integrated learning. But what an exciting time for all of us! For over 45 years, CEWIL Canada’s practitioners, faculty, managers and directors of Co-op and WIL programs and experiences across the country have been doing amazing work to support quality WIL experiences for students and employers – and people are taking notice. CEWIL is becoming known as the WIL subject matter expert it deserves to be – and people are listening.
On behalf of CEWIL, the Government and External Relations Committee submitted a written response to HUMA (the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities) study on Experiential Learning and Pathways to Employment for Canadian Youth, and were called to Ottawa to speak to our submission. The report was just released and our comments were quoted numerous times in the report. The GER Committee also submitted a pre-budget 2019 consultation paper, and while we were not called to speak to it, our requests were very much aligned with the messages of many other organizations. I hope that it is going to be a budget rich with resources for student transitions to employment. As another example of our increasing reputation in this space, CEWIL was called by ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada) to consult on proposed changes to labour standards for interns in federally regulated workplaces and CEWIL led a consortium including Universities Canada, Colleges and Institutes Canada as well as Polytechnics Canada in proposing changes to improve Work-Integrated Learning student conditions in federally regulated workplaces.
This year was also busy with the expansion of the partners in the Student Work Placement Program (formerly known as SWILP), and a new group of GER members took on the responsibility of managing those relationships, including offering a new series of webinars. CEWIL took a leadership position and invested in hosting two national conversations on WIL, one in Toronto in February and one in August in Montreal. These events which invited partners from across provincial and federal jurisdictions, including industry associations, employers, students, government and Post Secondary Institutions, set the stage for a meeting of a national Network of Networks on November 16, 2018, which will serve as a sort of strategic advisory group in the coming years.
None of this exciting work would have been possible though, without the foresight and leadership to expand our mandate in 2017. Thank you so much to our outgoing Past-President Anne Fannon, for shepherding that change in 2017, and to those that came before her and laid the groundwork for this change in our mandate. And beyond the work that GER has done externally, there has been a tremendous amount of work that needed to be done internally, as a result of that mandate expansion. Thank you Claudia Sperling, our current Past-President for your leadership and hard work in rebranding our association, updating our website (an ongoing affair) and reimagining of all of our committees and their activities. I also want to thank our 2018/19 CEWIL Canada Board, our dedicated committee chairs and our over 100 volunteers for their support and future work!
However, we need to continue to move forward with expanding our activities to support our new mandate in order to keep pace with this attention and changing landscape. While we currently collect national data on co-op (please do remember to submit your data!), we are investigating how to expand the database to capture data on other forms of WIL. This data will support increased WIL research, in order to allow us to make data-driven recommendations. We are so thankful to the team at the RBC Future Launch program for their support of our mission to build the capacity of practitioners, employers and supports for Work-Integrated Learning in order to develop future-ready students through quality work-integrated learning. I’m confident that the year ahead will continue to be exciting and full of change and challenges!
I hope that each of you will be able to take some time during the holiday break to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of our association, and to allow yourselves a moment of pause from the incredible work that you do on a daily basis to provide rich and authentic learning experiences for students across our great country.
Best wishes to you and your families,
Kristine Dawson, CEWIL President