Durham College expands access to real-world learning for students thanks to transformational gift

Oshawa, Ont. – Neha Kalarikkal credits her co-op placement for her professional growth and future plans. The Durham College (DC) student, in her third year of human resources, said the experience working in a professional HR setting exposed her to new areas of the field and helped her discover a keen interest in data analysis and allowed her to tailor her learning and job search to this niche.

Work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities like Neha’s take classroom learning into real-world settings. Co-ops, field placements and applied research positions enable students to develop the workplace skills and knowledge employers are looking for and improve their financial and career-related outcomes.

Hands-on, practical education is a cornerstone of college education in Ontario and co-operative education, a longer and more intensive immersion in the workplace, is an increasingly important mode of WIL at DC. Supporting these valuable opportunities and other aspects of experiential learning and workplace preparedness was the motivation behind a recent transformational $2 million gift from philanthropist Diane Blake.

The Diane Blake Student Success Initiative (DBSSI) will support the development of essential employability skills designed to help students launch their careers. It will accelerate DC’s goal of developing co-operative education components in all appropriate programs and increase the number of employer partners, so all eligible and interested students can participate in WIL opportunities. It will support the acquisition of technology to develop students’ soft skills related to job search and the workplace and create more research assistantship opportunities in DC’s applied research centres. And, students facing barriers to participation in WIL opportunities – such as costs related to transportation or accommodation, childcare, personal protective equipment or uniforms – will be eligible for financial support through the DBSSI.

“Durham College is committed to providing students with hands-on learning opportunities that complement their practical applied education, ensuring they have the skills, knowledge and competencies to be well-rounded graduates,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Diane’s gift will make a difference in the lives of students who will have access to these incredible real-world experiences by improving our capacity to support and sustain these efforts.”

“Education is very important to me, and I am proud to support Work Integrated Learning at Durham College,” said Diane Blake. “The workplace is constantly evolving, as are employers’ expectations. New opportunities for students to participate in Work Integrated Learning will allow them to develop the necessary skills to meet employers’ expectations and be successful in their chosen careers. I am confident that students at Durham College will benefit greatly from this initiative.”

Lindsay Holley, Lindsay.Holley@durhamcollege.ca
Communications and Marketing