ASPIRE has been developed in partnership with employers, postsecondary institutions and the government to support the Financial Services (FS) sector to increase the number and quality of work-integrated-learning (WIL) opportunities available to students, and grow the in-demand, work-ready talent pool. We are aspiring to attract the next generation of talent by uncovering the diverse, challenging and innovative nature of FS for students, and supporting them to access opportunity in the sector.
The Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA) is a sector organization, representing Toronto area Financial Services organizations. We have the privilege speaking to employers across the sector. We found that talent leaders were all telling us the same thing – that they need more ‘work-ready’ talent.
Further investigation revealed that despite the number of work-integrated-learning opportunities available, the quality of student experience varied and consequently post-WIL engagement was low.
At the same time the Business/Higher Education Roundtable, who work to support young Canadians as they transition from education to the workplace, announced their goal ‘to make work-integrated-learning a fundamental part of the Canadian undergraduate experience for 100% of students’ and approached TFSA to lead a WIL pilot project in Financial Services.
Recognizing the need, TFSA accepted the challenge. We engaged a multi-stakeholder group of 10 FS employers, 7 postsecondary institutions and 3 levels of government who became our trailblazers, and helped shape the ground-breaking sector wide initiative, ASPIRE.
WIL opportunities range from structured work experiences like co-ops and paid internships, through to capstone and research projects, and engaging with incubators and accelerators. All include meaningful student and employer interaction and result in performance feedback, course credit or remuneration.
WIL occurs while the student is still studying, as this develops the academic-industry learning and application loop. This scope of WIL reflects best practice thinking in experiential learning, and offers options in terms of the level of financial and time resources required to participate.
You have the best chance of landing the job you want if you’ve worked with employers before you graduate. Getting experience now means a more informed decision when choosing your next step. It also demonstrates your ability to apply theoretical knowledge to a work place, and gives you the edge in interviews.
All ASPIRE participants get access to business focused training. This will help you demonstrate the skills and competencies you’ve gained alongside the technical knowledge you’ve developed through your course.
All ASPIRE employers have committed to the Employer Pledge which, alongside a commitment to provide you with development opportunities and a competitive wage, promises you performance feedback. We also want to know what you think and will be seeking your thoughts on improving the student experience.
Being part of ASPIRE means you’ll get to build your network, develop employer contacts, and get to know students from other schools as well as ASPIRE alumni; your potential future colleagues.
Don’t know anything about Financial Services? Never thought about working in this industry before? That’s ok. Co-ops, paid internships, capstone projects, structured mentoring opportunities, hackathons, and incubators are all designed to help you gain industry insight and see if it’s a good fit. You may be surprised by what you find!
Work-integrated-learning is open to all students attending postsecondary institutions who are returning to school the next semester. So, if you’re currently studying in Canada and would like to learn more about opportunities in financial services you’re eligible to sign up!
All employers commit to the Employer Pledge demonstrating your commitment to deliver, or to aspire to achieve, the six Guiding Principles and provide quality student work-integrated-learning opportunities.
Becoming an ASPIRE employer enables you to promote your co-ops, internships, temporary and contact roles to our community of high caliber students, all of whom have expressed an interest in learning more about FS opportunities, all year round.
As an ASPIRE employer your current and future WIL students receive access to business skills training covering topics such as project management, business communications and presentation skills.
ASPIRE will showcase the diverse variety of opportunities in FS, targeting students currently not considering Financial Services sector careers. As an ASPIRE employer you have the option to be involved in social media campaigns, networking events, employer insight days and on-campus sector roadshows.
Participation in this sector-wide initiative demonstrates industry leadership, and provides an opportunity for you to contribute in regular feedback forums for employer and academic partners to evaluate the program, discuss updates and build stronger partnerships between employers and academic institutions.
Becoming an ASPIRE employer demonstrates your commitment to providing high quality student work-integrated learning opportunities.
All ASPIRE employers to pledge to:
ASPIRE aims to develop stronger partnerships between employers and postsecondary institutions to ensure our next generation can compete and succeed. Through regular feedback forums employers and academic institutions will evaluate the program, and discuss curriculum and programming updates to help build a more work-ready pool of graduate talent.
Through the ASPIRE platform students have access to a range of WIL openings, from which they can choose the opportunities that best support their interests, course subject, commitments and availability.
Our platform allows us to collect both school specific and sector wide data on work-integrated-learning which we can share with you for your records and monitoring.
All ASPIRE student participants have access to supplementary business skills training, covering topics such as project management, business communications and presentation skills.
ASPIRE opportunities are open to all postsecondary students regardless of year of study, increasing the chance of their experiencing multiple WIL. Each experience will significantly increase the students’ professional network and work readiness, and therefore the likelihood of employment post-graduation.
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