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About value for employees: Programs, policies and practices

This report presents findings from the Work-Integrated Learning Employer Survey. The survey was designed to explore employer motivations and barriers to participating in work-integrated learning (WIL) programs (such as cooperative education, field placements and internships) and to gather employer perspectives on the impact of WIL on the skills, competencies and employability of Ontario postsecondary graduates. The survey was undertaken by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) in partnership with 14 Ontario postsecondary (PSE) institutions, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI). It is part of a larger research project that includes surveys of postsecondary faculty and students at the participating institutions. Postsecondary WIL programs are endorsed by both career development practitioners and business associations as essential to effective workforce development. They are also viewed as having the potential to offer significant labour market benefits to students – by improving their competitive positioning as they enter the labour market and, in some cases, helping them to secure employment immediately upon graduation. To successfully implement these programs, postsecondary institutions rely on the active participation of individual employers. Yet relatively little research has been conducted to assess employer attitudes toward WIL. Findings from the Work-Integrated Learning Employer Survey will support and strengthen partnerships between businesses, postsecondary institutions, community organizations and government by contributing knowledge about employer perspectives on the role of WIL programs, their perceptions of benefits and challenges, and the impact of WIL in transitioning students to the labour market. The survey was conducted by telephone with 3,369 Ontario employers in spring 2012, using a stratified random sampling approach. Results are generalizable to all Ontario employers with a margin of error of +/- 2%. This report analyzes employer attitudes and experiences with WIL according to whether they had hired postsecondary graduates and whether they had participated in work-integrated learning programs. Findings for employers who provided WIL are further analyzed by the type of postsecondary institution offering the WIL program and the specific type of WIL. Finally, differences between employers are also considered by size and sector.