Manitoba lacks work placements for post-secondary students, report says

A new report calls for more work placement programs for post-secondary students in Manitoba, especially at small and medium-size businesses.

Report calls for collaboration between schools, business sector to prepare students for changing economy

University of Winnipeg president Annette Trimbee says about half of all graduating students currently have work placements and the number, ideally, should be closer to 100 per cent. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

A report from Manitoba's post-secondary institutions and a major business group calls for more work placement programs for students in Manitoba, especially at small and medium-size businesses.

The report, called Horizon Manitoba, also warns that the province's future job market is vulnerable to disruption and automation in areas such as manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

"Failing to adapt and innovate in the face of change may have serious economic and social consequences in the future," said the 23-page report, done in partnership with the Business Council of Manitoba and released Friday.

The report said many small businesses have a hard time finding qualified employees, and more work placements for students would help link prospective employees and employers.

"What we really need to focus our efforts on are the small-medium enterprises that don't know how to connect with us. So we need to develop a framework that makes it easy for them," said Annette Trimbee, president of the University of Winnipeg.

About half of post-secondary students graduate with work-placement experience, she said, and that number ideally should be close to 100 per cent.

Shortage of tech workers: Eichler

The report also calls for collaboration between schools and the business sector to ensure students are being trained for the changing economy.

Manitoba Minister for Economic Development and Training Ralph Eichler said there are worker shortages in some sectors such as technology.

"We have people like (online transaction firm) Bold Commerce, (video game company) Ubisoft. They could hire 300 people right now if they had people who were available," Eichler said.

The report also suggests more efforts be made to remove any barriers faced by Indigenous students. It points to a program run by the business council that has awarded millions of dollars over the last 18 years to Indigenous full-time post-secondary students in need of financial assistance.

Eichler said the Progressive Conservative government recognizes some of the ideas will require more government funding.

"That comes with it, absolutely. I'm not going to say a number because we don't know what that number is going to be."

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