Whitehorse Daily Star

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INTERNSHIPS MADE AVAILABLE – Seen at a Nov. 8 event in Whitehorse during Yukon Innovation Week are, left to right, Colin Gervais, senior advisor, business development, Mitacs; Jonathan Osborne, CEO of Balance BioGas, a Yukon startup benefiting from the Mitacs internship program; Kaitlin Halickman, a Mitacs intern working with Balance BioGas; and Dr. Davon Callander, manager, research and scholarly activity services, Yukon University. Photo courtesy MITACS

Yukon gets funding boost for work internships

Thanks to a partnership among the territorial government, Yukon University and non-profit national innovation organization Mitacs, local businesses and university students have been given a boost.

By Whitehorse Star on November 17, 2023

Thanks to a partnership among the territorial government, Yukon University and non-profit national innovation organization Mitacs, local businesses and university students have been given a boost.

The initiative was highlighted last week during Yukon Innovation Week.

It offers placement of top student talent in paid work internships to help Yukon companies solve business challenges and innovate.

It comes in the wake of reports of Yukon businesses facing labour shortages, indicating there are more available jobs than there are workers to fill them.

“It’s a win-win for students, Yukon University, businesses, industry, and Yukon’s prosperity as a whole,” said Colin Gervais, senior advisor, business development, at Mitacs.

He stressed that the opportunity is available to Yukon-based not-for-profits, hospitals, and municipalities.

The initiative aims to narrow the Yukon’s labour gap by attracting new talent to the region and providing opportunities to integrate Yukon University talent into the business community.

It also serves to sharpen the skills of students — giving them the opportunity to build on knowledge and skills gained in the classroom — and promises to accelerate the growth of local organizations and bolster the Yukon’s innovation record, Gervais said.

Yukon University is playing a growing role in catalyzing research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the region through collaborations with Mitacs and other programs such as IncubateNorth.

“The partnership between Mitacs and Yukon University is helping train the next generation of leaders in our community,” said Dr. Bronwyn Hancock, the university’s vice-provost, academic and research.

Mitacs bills itself as a “matchmaker” between the talent in post-secondary institutions and organizations that need expertise to innovate.

It has placed tens of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdocs, in paid internships in a wide range of industries across the country.

The organization said thousands more opportunities are available, including programs for Indigenous students and businesses.

“Global examples of high performing economies are clear that the right talent is a vital ingredient to successful innovation, productivity, and growth,” said Tash Ismail, Mitacs’s chief business development officer.

“Mitacs is dedicated to helping organizations address their most pressing research and development challenges by providing access to this all important talent.

“This commitment holds particular significance in Canada’s northern regions, where the availability of essential talent can often determine the success or failure of an organization.”

Kaitlin Halickman, a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student at Yukon University, is already benefitting from a Mitacs internship, working part-time at local start-up Balance BioGas.

“This opportunity has been the highlight of my educational path, helping to not only support my education and personal development, but also to support a business in launching new innovative ideas,” she said.

Mitacs innovation internships — which are supported by the Yukon and federal governments — are paid opportunities for post-secondary students.

Businesses contribute only 50 per cent of the cost to compensate interns.

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