Students: Take advantage of a Skills-Based Economy

If you’re one of the many students enrolled in a humanities, arts or business program in Canada, you likely already have the critical skills that employers are looking for. In fact, digital marketing, business analysis, market research, accounting and digital design are just some of the areas of work where students are needed; but soft skills are equally  important.

“I’ve been hearing a lot this year about adaptability and flexibility,” says Melanie Belore, Associate Director of Experiential Education in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University in Toronto. “Our student workforce joined the work-from-home movement, and companies really appreciated students who could adapt.” 

Critical thinking, communication, collaboration and ethical reasoning are especially valuable to employers — and students graduating from the arts, humanities and business faculties have these in abundance. “I think a lot about the human element of some of the big, messy problems that we’re increasingly looking to the tech industry to solve, and how those solutions might be different if there was an ethicist in the room or a social scientist,” Belore explains.

With the shift to a skills-based economy, where employers value the skills their employees have, more so than the degree they hold, there is more opportunities available for students within any discipline to try roles they didn’t know were available to themhelping them to discover the right fit for their passions and career goals.

Work-Integrated Learning

Internships and other work-integrated learning opportunities let students explore career possibilities and gain valuable on-the-job experience. The TECHNATION Career Ready Program, which offers a wage subsidy of up to 70 per cent (maxing out at $7,000) for student work placements in a tech-immersive role, offers students within many different disciplines a chance to explore their options. 

Students don’t necessarily need a computer science degree to qualify for Career Ready subsidies.  Companies often need support in areas like marketing, design and UX, project management, research and policy work, and government relations. These companies, especially tech companies, are also looking for talent who have soft skills and can communicate with the public. 

Unexpected Opportunities

Some tech companies are also specifically looking for non-tech students to bring unique expertise to projects. A Halifax-based company hired a linguistics student to work on an artificial intelligence project, while FastApps brought in a marketing student through the TECHNATION Career Ready Program.

“A student’s values and passions can guide their career development,” notes Belore. “If you value helping people as your top career priority, you might seek to work in the non-profit sector — or you might look for work in organizations creating accessibility apps.”

Students have an opportunity to do a work placement at a non-profit organization, developing  a social media strategy or helping with digital marketing. Or if a student has learned how to manage data in Excel or SQL during their studies (or on their own), they could put those skills to use in a data analyst role in pretty much any industry.

There are also lots of opportunities for upskilling. Over and above traditional education pathways, there are certificate and boot camp programs offered by organizations and companies to teach the hard skills needed for specific roles and career paths, like project manager, UX designer and data analyst.

So, if you are a student are looking for exciting work-integrated learning opportunities while still in school, be sure to learn more about the TECHNATION Career Ready Program here, and see how you can approach potential employers for an internship, letting them know that you can come with a 50-70 per cent wage subsidy. 

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