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BC Chamber of Commerce helps launch student talent program

Talent Forward brings businesses and students together to solve short-term labour issues while building a skilled workforce for BC’s future
BC Chamber youth employment program
Jenna Buhrmann, who is studying Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Victoria, is one of the many success stories in the Talent Forward program.

The BC Chamber of Commerce is helping to ensure the students of today have the chance for success tomorrow.

Last week, along with the Association for Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL), the Chamber launched Talent Forward a program that connects businesses with skilled post-secondary students looking for work experience to fulfill requirements for their academic program. Bringing a student into the workplace benefits businesses with temporary, cost-effective labour support that addresses business needs while equipping students with skills for the future.  

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

The Talent Forward program facilitates the connection between businesses and students, matching them to the talent they need. Businesses can access free one-to-one consulting from a trusted advisor at the BC Chamber who will guide them in finding student talent programs offered at public BC post-secondary schools. In addition, businesses can leverage educational materials about hiring student talent and funding options. The Talent Forward program offers informative, on-demand webinars and downloadable tip sheets.  All of these services are available cost-free to businesses in BC.  

“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.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to face significant challenges in staying operational. In October 2020, the BC Chamber of Commerce and ACE-WIL conducted a “Hiring for the Future” survey which revealed that employers saw the advantage of using student talent for these 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%)  

Hiring a student can help address these objectives. Jennie Nilsson, President of ACE-WIL, summarizes the value students contribute this way, “Bringing a student onboard is a strategic move for businesses looking to recover or transform the way they do business at any point in their business journey.” 

The Talent Forward program helps local businesses connect to student talent, and allows them to recover, innovate, and move forward. Learn more about the free program here.