Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson. Photo: Tyler Harper

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson. Photo: Tyler Harper

NEWS AND VIEWS: Nelson’s Chamber helps businesses connect with new talent

Tom Thomson writes about an event scheduled for May 20

by Tom Thomson

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director

As a small business owner, deciding to grow your workforce takes careful consideration. Before you decide to hire a full-time employee, we want you to consider the use of an internship program.

An internship or co-op program is an opportunity offered to current university/college students or recent grads that allows them to get hands-on training by working for a business. Normally these programs last up to four months and run during all times of the year. If your company can offer the right training and time to an internship program, it can be a win-win situation. It will not only benefit students who want to learn, but it will also benefit your company in ways you could not have imagined.

On May 20, the Chamber of Commerce will host the free Boost Your Business with New Talent webinar and employer panel, which highlights how West Kootenay businesses can succeed by using student talent to innovate, drive sales and increase capacity. While student talent can provide the short-term labour that businesses need to remain competitive, by choosing to work with students, employers are also contributing to the development of a skilled workforce.

In partnership with Selkirk College and Talent Forward, the upcoming Boost Your Business with New Talent webinar and employer panel will help businesses understand the types of diverse work-integrated-learning (WIL) programs available at Selkirk College. From co-ops to internships to short-term projects and practice placements, this webinar will help organizations determine what their options are in working with students. Additionally, several local employers will share their experience and answer questions on how working with students has boosted their organizations.

“Our business community benefits by bringing students into the workplace,” says Chamber president Paul Wiest. “In the short term, businesses can use students to ramp up capacity, improve services or tackle new projects. And for the future, we all benefit from having a more skilled workforce within the Nelson and district area.”

Internship or co-op programs can run all year long. Sometimes you may have summer interns working 9-5 and other times you may have interns during the school year that work 1-2 days a week. Being exposed to many different interns is a great recruitment tool, as you will get to see who you feel could be a perfect fit for your company. You can assess this by looking at their skill development, work ethic and how they fit in at your company.

Whether your company is successfully growing or simply needs help completing tasks, interns are an asset to add to your team. Think about it — there aren’t that many hours in a workday and sometimes projects fall to the side as you need to focus on more pressing matters. Interns or co-op students will be able to focus on these projects and other short-term projects you need help with, while learning the career skills they need.

In speaking with Rhys Andrews, vice president, education, at Selkirk College, he pointed out, “Programs at Selkirk College focus on learning outcomes for in-demand careers and applied learning is a vital component to our approach. This includes expanding our work integrated learning and co-op education opportunities for students. The experiential education, skills and training that students are currently acquiring provide value to employers in our region.”

This Chamber of Commerce webinar is sponsored by the Talent Forward program, a partnership between the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon, which seeks to facilitate the process of connecting the best and brightest student talent to businesses across British Columbia.

We hope you can join us for this free webinar. It is open to any business or organization within Nelson and area and will be held on Thursday, May 20, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. Registration is required. To register, please go to, go to the Chamber website at, or pick up the phone and call the Chamber.

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