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Recover and Grow with Skilled Student Talent


BCBusiness BC Chamber of Commerce & ACE-WIL

BC Chamber of Commerce and ACE-WIL have partnered to create Talent Forward—bringing businesses and students together to invest in each other and in BC communities

2020 brought big changes to businesses across British Columbia, leaving many on the lookout for simple, cost-effective ways to help pivot toward new horizons. Many businesses have faced tighter budget constraints, lack of resources to complete projects, and limited insight on where to go for hiring and labour support. But a program has been established to help mitigate these challenges. Discover, Talent Forward.

The BC Chamber of Commerce and Association for Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL) have developed a program called Talent Forward that partners businesses with skilled post-secondary students for temporary, flexible, cost-effective labour which provides much needed relief on an already stretched thin business landscape.

“By listening to BC businesses, the BC Chamber knows that finding talent is a constant top-of-mind challenge,” says Dan Baxter, Interim CEO at the BC Chamber of Commerce. “One of the under-utilized pools of labour is skilled post-secondary students seeking work experience.”

Talent Forward helps facilitate the process of connecting students with businesses by providing free one-on-one consulting and resources (webinars, toolkits, etc.) through the BC Chamber for businesses looking to hire a student and seek funding for hiring.

“Employers have several options for bringing students into their workplace,” explains Jennie Nilsson, President of ACE-WIL. Students are available for work in a variety of ways as co-ops, apprenticeships, practicums, internships, research contracts, community service, or project-focused learning initiatives.

“Having students on board to help us pivot to remote work and to tackle back-burner projects is a huge benefit,” says Zameena Dadani, Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives, Westcoast Family Centres in Metro Vancouver. “The ideas and skills the students bring are invaluable, and it’s particularly energizing for those who are mentoring the students.”

What Employers Want From Student Talent in 2021

In October 2020, the BC Chamber of Commerce and ACE-WIL conducted the Hiring for the Future survey, which identified that employers want to engage with student talent for the following strategic objectives:

  • Deploying new technology to boost innovation and competitiveness (47%)
  • Developing new and innovative products/services/experiences (46%)
  • Increasing productivity by lowering costs (40%)
  • Identifying new/niche markets (40%)

Seventy-one percent of employers also indicated the desire to “contribute to a stronger future workforce and economy.”

“By bringing a student into the workforce for short-term labour support, businesses can save costs, increase overall worker capacity, and drive productivity,” Baxter says. “This in turn helps to build a stronger BC now, and in the future.”

Discover the Talent Forward project:


BC Chamber of Commerce – Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

ACE-WIL – LinkedIn

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with
BC Chamber of Commerce & ACE-WIL