The provincial government announced last week that it’s teaming up with the New Brunswick Business Council, the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick, RBC, United Way Central NB and the four publicly funded universities on a workforce initiative, FutureReadyNB.
The program was developed as a response to a task force report that called for more experiential learning capacity and work opportunities for university students in New Brunswick. It aims to help employers fill labour gaps while also providing students with job experience in their field from within the province before they graduate.
Ultimately, FutureReadyNB hopes to support economic growth, retain young and educated New Brunswickers, and help with employee recruitment, said Adrienne O’Pray, CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council.
“This initiative is a conduit for finding and nurturing our province’s future employees,” said O’Pray in a release. “It helps develop the skills of the student and augments in-class learning, and goes a long way toward growing our workforce and strengthening our economy.”
The provincial government and public universities are funding the initiative, while other investments will also be made by the employers and organizations that are offering the opportunities. The Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour budgeted around $6 million in fiscal year 2018-2019, said Sarah Buster, the department’s communications officer, in an e-mail to Huddle.
Through FutureReadyNB, undergraduate students at the University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University, Université de Moncton and Mount Allison University can be eligible to receive funding to get on-the-job experience at local organizations and businesses.
On the other hand, organizations can also nurture and strengthen connections with future employees. However, not all students or employers will need funding as part of the program.
The students’ learning experiences must be with New Brunswick-based employers and co-ordinated through campus-based experiential learning offices throughout the academic year.
“FutureReadyNB is a fantastic opportunity for employers across the province to connect with eager, talented university students,” said Thomas Raffy, CEO of the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick, in the release.
Alexandre Cédric Doucet, president of the Fédération des étudiantes et étudiants du Campus universitaire de Moncton, said in the release that the initiative will help its members access to paid experiential learning opportunities.
Emily Blue, the executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance, said the program will help students plan to stay in the province.
“This initiative has the power to really help students see and plan a future for themselves in New Brunswick,” said Blue in the release. “Through FutureReadyNB, university students will have the chance to make connections within the business, not-for-profit, and public sectors giving them the skills and experience needed to land great jobs here in New Brunswick.”
Non-profit organizations will benefit, too, said Jeff Richardson, executive director of the United Way Central NB.
“Experiential learning will increase diversity and enthusiasm in workplaces and will inject energy and fresh perspectives into non-profit work,” he said in the release.