Valuable, career-boosting international experiences are on the horizon for Brock students with $750,000 in federal funding awarded to the University as part of a new government pilot program.
Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) is a national outbound student mobility program that will provide $95 million over a three-and-a-half-year period to approximately 16,000 Canadian post-secondary students.
Compared to similar countries, fewer Canadian students — only about 11 per cent of university undergraduate students — participate in work or study abroad experiences during their studies. The new program aims to change that to ensure more students can acquire the global skills employers want and the Canadian economy needs.
While open to all Canadian post-secondary students, the GSO funding prioritizes financial support for students who are low-income, Indigenous or with disabilities. The University will also continue to allocate institutional financial support, so all students have the opportunity to participate in a global learning initiatives.
“GSO funding will increase the participation of priority students in both virtual and in-country international exchange, field studies and experiential and work-integrated learning opportunities that embrace and integrate the UN sustainable development goals and develop career-aligned intercultural competencies,” said Kyla Pennie, Brock’s Associate Director, Internationalization and Support Services.
Another unique aspect of the program is that GSO funding aims to diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning. Students will be encouraged to venture outside of popular English-speaking locations such as Australia, England and New Zealand to non-native English-speaking countries with the hopes of gaining a greater appreciation for the world around them.
“Working with post-secondary partners in strategic, non-traditional countries that are safe, secure and stable aims to foster the development of strategic, sustainable partnerships,” said Pennie.
In her role, Pennie will be responsible for bringing the new program to life as part of the University’s strategic plan to increase accessible and transformative global learning opportunities.
“This funding puts into practice Brock’s commitment to offer equitable experiential global learning opportunities by working with internal and external partners to reduce barriers that have historically prohibited student participation in global learning,” she said.
Brock International is also working to develop risk mitigation strategies to ensure the safety of Brock students while engaging in global learning activities.
“We had imagined we would be implementing GSO funding in a post-COVID environment, however it is becoming increasingly clear that as educators, we have to continue to be innovative in our approach to global learning amidst this global pandemic,” said Pennie.
She added that Brock is committed to working with academic partners to create globally engaged learning opportunities, through a collaborative online learning environment or in-person where Brock students can acquire global skills, intercultural competencies and international experiences that will help increase their employability outcomes and chart their path to diverse, globally connected careers.
The changing job market is also driving the need for international experience. Referred to as soft skills or durable skills, employers are looking for candidates with competencies that can be developed or enhanced through international education. A Canadian survey in Decemeber 2020 found 73 per cent of companies value these soft skills more than ever. Combined with Brock’s Core Competencies, students will have the opportunity to graduate ready for a globalized work environment.
As part of the funding received by the University, the Goodman School of Business (GSB) will be responsible for allocating $250,000 through its Global Business Education program. The business school has already enabled more than 1,200 learners to experience global education with more than 50 globally accredited business schools in 22 countries on four continents.
“The funding is a game-changer for Canadian higher education and for so many of our GSB learners, the bridge that will enable them to experience the world around them and develop the global and intercultural competencies that employers are seeking and that will position them to succeed, beyond graduation and throughout their careers,” said Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes.
The funding provided to GSB will be leveraged to increase and sustain outbound mobility among target learners beyond the funding lifecycle, with a focus on deepening engagement with GSB partners. Programs receiving funding will include the BBA Co-op International Double Degree program, short-term immersion, semester/annual exchanges and UN co-op.
“For several years, GSB has integrated social impact, ethical business and responsible management as underlying themes within our global programs and learner services,” Gaudes said. “The Global Skills Opportunity program levers up our capability to embed a far greater number of GSB learners within global contexts where they can apply sustainability concepts and co-create inclusive and socially responsible solutions to real-world challenges”
As details around GSO programs begin to take shape, students are encouraged to follow The Brock News and visit Brock International’s website for updates on application requirements, deadlines and program availability. For more information, visit GlobalSkillsOpportunity.ca