Helping launch careers

A new Western-LEDC collaboration helps graduates from the Faculty of Social Science with future employment by creating 12-month, full-time, paid apprenticeship positions

NEW WESTERN GRADUATES will receive more local career opportunities, and London will retain more skilled talent, thanks to a new collaboration between the university and the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).

The Social Science Career Apprenticeship pilot program will help graduates from the Faculty of Social Science get a foot on the employment ladder by creating 12-month, full-time, paid apprenticeship positions. In its first year, the program will provide positions for up to 10 graduates. Employers who hire graduates are reimbursed for four months of salary by a grant.

“It’s critical that students find employment as soon as possible after graduation,” says Alan Rottenberg, whose grant is funding this program. “We know students who are underemployed or unemployed upon graduation suffer a five-year lag versus students who land their first career-related job right out of university.”

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Rottenberg, an Ottawa-based philanthropist and general partner of the William Harris Venture Fund, is sponsoring similar apprenticeship programs at universities in Ontario and British Columbia. About 90 per cent of graduates hired through the first program (established between Queen’s University and Kingston Economic Development Corporation) were still employed with the companies that hired them after three years.

London Mayor Ed Holder sees great potential for the program to help keep Western students in the city after graduation.

“It’s a tremendous way to assess and really understand the full impact of what Western students have to offer to London,” says Holder. “We have world-class companies; we have some of the best and brightest minds graduating from Western. When we can put them together, magic happens.”

The benefits for participants go beyond employer connections. Western will provide all program applicants with career development workshops, and those hired into a position will have the opportunity to be mentored by Western alumni throughout the apprenticeship.

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Acting Social Sciences dean Joan Finegan called the program a win-win: “Our students will discover that the skills they learned at university are transferable to a career, and local businesses will have the opportunity to rejuvenate their workforce.”

Employers interested in participating in the SSCA program can contact Robert Collins, LEDC director of workforce development, at [email protected]. More than 60 students have already applied, and those selected will be eligible to start their positions in May. Information for students can be found on the Faculty of Social Science website. Helping launch careers Western-LEDC Education

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