New partnership engages Vancouver Island students and employers

Collaboration between Mitacs, Vancouver Island University, North Island College, and RBC Foundation supports rural employers while promoting work-integrated learning

Vancouver, BC — Mitacs has partnered with Vancouver Island University (VIU), North Island College (NIC), and RBC Foundation to create mutually beneficial opportunities for students and employers on Vancouver Island, north of the Malahat.

Funding from Mitacs and RBC Foundation is enabling the creation of a new Business Development Specialist position. The role will collaborate with VIU and NIC to engage with at least 50 businesses and not-for-profit organizations to offer tailored support in accessing student talent.

At a time when many small- and mid-sized businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and adapt to new ways of working, the partnership boosts work experience opportunities for students and supports employers to gain better access to the workforce of the future.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the partners are confident that students can play a key role in Vancouver Island’s economic recovery strategies. The more experiences students have in real-world situations, the more classroom learning is solidified and the better their job prospects will be after graduation.

Regional work-integrated learning hub

In addition to this support, VIU and NIC have partnered to create the Vancouver Island Work-Integrated Learning (VIWIL) hub. This one-stop shop facilitates employer engagement and enhances work-integrated learning opportunities for students.

Roughly 90 percent of mid- and north-Island businesses have 20 or fewer employees, which means employers don’t have many resources to take on and mentor students. The new VIWIL online hub will provide a place for employers to promote their job postings and find support with every aspect of hiring an intern — from creating job descriptions to identifying potential student funding resources and onboarding.


John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

“We are proud to contribute to promoting a full range of work-integrated learning opportunities for students on Vancouver Island, north of the Malahat. By equipping students with skills and experience, Mitacs hopes to foster research, innovation, job creation, and, consequently, to strengthen the community. We are only able to do this work thanks to the partnership with VIU, NIC, and RBC Foundation, and to the support of the federal and provincial governments.”

Anita Budisa-Bonneau, Coordinator of Work-Integrated Education, North Island College

“Active participation in work-integrated learning has never been so important for the future of our workforce and our economic recovery. Work-integrated learning opportunities such as co-ops and internships give students relevant work experience in their field, which helps them make a successful leap from their studies into the workplace.”

Brittany Parker, Interim Director, Centre for Experiential Learning, Vancouver Island University

“VIU and NIC offer different programs and working together means we can ensure a good match between our students and potential employers, so that the needs of both can be better met. We are focused on developing closer connections with employers and our local chambers of commerce, providing supportive assistance and resources, and making it easier for employers to access a talented student pool to meet their needs.”

About Mitacs:

  • Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.
  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon.