Building talent pathways for Canada’s net-zero future
July 28, 2023
Queen's has launched an innovative project designed to help undergraduate students gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and networks to become future leaders in Canada's shift towards a net-zero economy.
In partnership with the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), and with support from the Government of Canada, the university has created the Queen’s Venture Creation, Experiential Learning, and Net-Zero Training (QVENT) project. Led by the Experiential Learning Team within the Smith School of Business, this cross-institutional initiative will support the development of a ‘green talent’ pipeline, providing hands-on educational opportunities to students who aspire to contribute to the country’s sustainable transition.
“Queen’s remains committed to achieving a positive impact both on a local level and on the global stage,” says Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Teri Shearer. “This important project will equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to become champions of the climate transition and enhance ongoing efforts at Queen’s to address the world’s most pressing challenges.”
Through the term of the project, Queen's anticipates providing close to 2,000 students with experiential learning opportunities focused on net-zero and sustainability issues.
“The QVENT project is an extremely exciting initiative for Queen's students,” says Siena Margorian, Co-President of student group Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis. “In order to tackle the climate crisis, we need our future leaders to be knowledgeable about environmental sustainability and the solutions we need to implement to reach an equitable and green future. These kinds of programs prepare students to enter the workforce with the skills and experience to incorporate sustainability in their future careers.”
Four program streams for sustainable leadership development
The QVENT project includes four distinct program streams that involve several faculties and units — including Engineering, Smith School of Business, Arts and Science, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, and more — offering work-integrated learning experiences.
Additionally, the City of Kingston and Kingston Economic Development Corporation will support various streams of the project and help connect students with their networks.
“We are excited to support Queen's University in their initiative to develop a green talent pipeline,” says Donna Gillespie, Chief Executive Officer, Kingston Economic Development Corporation. “This innovative project aligns perfectly with our city’s commitment to sustainability and positions Kingston as a leader in the transition to a net-zero economy by connecting students with opportunities and providing them with the skills and experiences needed to tackle environmental challenges.”
The first stream, Course-embedded green industry projects, incorporates net-zero and sustainability focused projects, case studies, and learning challenges into class curriculums.
Stream two establishes a new Certificate in Leading Sustainable Change Towards a Net-Zero Economy, designed by Queen’s faculty and industry practitioners to equip students with the awareness, capabilities, and confidence to tackle issues related to Canada’s climate transition. The certificate program is to be delivered through the Smith Centre for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact, and will include immersive workshops.
A third stream focuses on net-zero venture creation, affording students opportunities to build businesses focused on environmental sustainability and a green economy. Participants in this net-zero focused incubator program will have the chance to pitch their businesses at the end of the program for seed funding.
The final stream seeks to provide at least 100 internships in the net-zero space for Queen’s students to gain on-the-job experience.
“BHER is committed to creating accessible and inclusive pathways to green jobs through work-integrated learning,” says Andrew Bieler, Director of Partnerships & Experiential Learning, BHER. “We’re impressed by the level of cross institutional collaboration and interdisciplinarity in the QVENT project and can’t wait to see how students and employers make use of the opportunities.”
Community and corporate partners are invited to get involved in several of the project streams. Organizations can contact the QVENT project team if interested in offering a course-embedded green industry project, hiring a net-zero student intern, or supporting the delivery of a workshop.
“We're appreciative of this partnership that will help propel Kingston forward as a city leading the way on climate action,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “We're making big strides with sustainable projects, policies and programs, and tapping into local talent through QVENT will provide immense benefits to our city and beyond as we transition to a more sustainable future.”