EMILI is celebrating Work Integrated Learning Month with the launch of a new online tool to help students and employers access the resources they need to take part in work-integrated learning (WIL) within the digital agriculture sector. 

“We know that there are many different terms to describe the funding systems that allow us to provide students hands-on work experience,” said EMILI’s Manager, Skills and Talent Rachel LeClair.

“This new site provides an easy to understand reference to help students and employers understand what these terms mean as well as a one-stop resource to see what funding opportunities are available and how to access them,’ she said.

Hiring students through WIL programs not only helps students gain new skills and connections, it also helps employers build and strengthen the talent pipeline.

“Hiring a co-op student is a cost-effective way to bring new ideas into your organization, support your business needs, and identify and recruit top talent early,” said Holly Klann, University of Manitoba Co-op Coordinator. She encourages employers interested in hiring a student to reach out to her

WIL increases exposure to digital agriculture career opportunities

EMILI is passionate about creating opportunities for those with agriculture and non-agriculture backgrounds to learn new skills and gain work experience. This goes beyond technical skills. Critical thinking, decision-making, and collaboration are some of the most important skills employers in digital agriculture look for. Participating in WIL programs provides an opportunity to help students develop these skills, making for a stronger workforce now and in the future.

EMILI has seen this impact firsthand. Hiring interns, such as Brittanie Parisien and Gisela Sanchez, has not only helped these students launch their careers, it has enabled EMILI to harness their knowledge and skills to advance digital agriculture.

Brittanie Parisien joined EMILI in 2022 as part of University of Manitoba’s Arts Career Apprenticeship Program, a role that led to a full time contract supporting EMILI’s Skills and Talent portfolio.

“Before joining the EMILI team, I had a non-agriculture background as my degree focused on film and English. However, I had transferable skills and this experience introduced me to an industry I never saw myself in, but am now so happy to be part of,” she said.

Gisela Sanchez took part in an EMILI internship in early 2023 as part of University of Winnipeg’s Artificial Intelligence Diploma. The following month, she graduated from her program with a full time role in her field.

“Before the internship, I hadn’t known how much AI has been applied in the agriculture industry. It made me realize that there is room for people like me, with no previous background in agriculture but a passion for data and AI,” she said. “Finishing my AI diploma with this experience changed my perspective on agriculture and how powerful AI can be in it.”

WIL complements traditional class-based learning with hands-on experience, providing opportunities for talented individuals to apply their skills in new ways and gain exposure to diverse careers. 

Technology, business, and human skills are in-demand

The most sought after skill sets in industry include: 

  • Technical agriculture skills such as soil science, plant breeding, genetics, agronomy 
  • Technology skills such as data analysis and management
  • Business skills such as financial literacy, export market identification
  • Human skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, collaboration, work ethic 

WIL provides a pathway for students to make connections, learn vital skills, and gain knowledge about career paths they might not be aware of. At the same time, WIL provides an important opportunity for Industry to leverage the diverse skill sets of students and provide a career pathway into the digital agriculture ecosystem. Visit EMILI’s WIL website to learn more.