By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 3, 2021.
Medicine Hat College is taking part in a newly announced work-integrated learning initiative called Rural Roots.
The initiative was created in partnership between Riipen, a virtual marketplace connecting employers with students and educators for work-integrated learning, and the Rural Development Network, which promotes social development in rural communities.
“We do see that businesses in rural areas usually don’t have as many resources in terms of talent or in terms of the resources around them for focusing on growth as much as in the big city, where you have people lining up to do internship,” Angel Tian, Riipen marketing and communications manager, told the News.
“We’re hoping that with this partnership with RDN we’re able to reach out to rural employers and show them the value of work-integrated learning and what it can bring to the organization and how they will be able to work with and collaborate with learners to tackle those growth projects,” said Tian.
Students at MHC – a member of the RDN – can take part in the Rural Roots initiative as early as next semester. Projects in fields such as marketing, IT and business are in high demand, but Tian says there’s no limit to project subjects.
“We’re not really limited to the type of course or the type of projects which is what’s really great about our platform because we really try to be as inclusive as possible and as flexible as possible.”
Rural Roots aims to engage as many as 2,000 Canadian rural employers.
“It’s really exciting to see this alignment with industry and academia on work-integrated learning,” Alberta Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said in a Thursday release. “Learning directly from mentors and seasoned professionals … is one of the best ways to set students up for success in their future careers.”
Nicolaides and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Nate Horner have both shown support for the initiative with Horner, calling it a “game-changer” for students soon to be looking for employment in the labour market.
“We are very grateful to have the support of both ministers Nicolaides and Horner for this initiative. We are really looking forward to working with the provincial government to create even more opportunities for work-integrated learning in communities like Medicine Hat,” said Tian.
Rural Alberta businesses and employers are encouraged to consider the Rural Roots program as a means for both completing workplace projects and providing opportunities to the province’s next generation of employees. Projects can be completed virtually or in a classroom. More information can be found on Riipen’s website.