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Photo of the Alberta Provincial Legislature building in Edmonton, AB. // Photo courtesy of Mack Male/Flickr.

Alberta government provides “transformative” funding for internship opportunities

By Kristy Koehler, November 24 2020—

The Alberta government has partnered with Mitacs to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students.

Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit organization that aims to work with academic institutions to foster growth and innovation in Canada, will receive a $15 million dollar investment over the next three years from the province’s United Conservative Party government.

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said that thinking of new ways to support and strengthen student internship opportunities had been on his mind for the last little while.

“The data is quite clear — students who have the opportunity to participate in work-integrated learning have faster transitions to work, earn higher incomes after graduation and just generally have more career success,” said Nicolaides.

A recommendation provided by the Innovation Capital Working Group, convened by the government to explore and provide recommendations about how to strengthen the province’s innovation capacities, led to the investment in Mitacs.

About 1,275 internship opportunities will be created each year. The internships will be targeted for the key economic sectors identified in Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

“We wanted to make sure the internship opportunities that are being created through Mitacs help support our economic focus,” said Nicolaides.

The sectors include agriculture and forestry, aviation, aerospace and logistics, culture and creative industries, energy, financial services, technology and innovation and tourism.

“Many of the programs are application-based,” noted Nicoalides. “A student can submit their proposal to Mitacs, outlining the challenge or the research problem they want to address and Mitacs can work with them to help find industry partners and set up the relevant internship opportunities.”

Over three years, the Government of Alberta will be providing $5 million annually. Nicolaides says it will also unlock “a massive amount — over $22 million — in federal matching funding.”

“I don’t want to understate the significance behind this,” said Nicolaides, noting that our comparator provinces — B.C., Ontario and others — contribute about the amount to Mitacs, and that Alberta in the past has lagged far behind. 

“This is going to be a significant game changer for the province in helping to give students opportunities to explore new and developing industries and to help insure that we’re developing Alberta-grown talent in new and emerging sectors. It’s really a transformative initiative.”

Students interested in learning more about a potential internship offering can visit Mitacs online.

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