McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies is launching a unique experiential training and professional development program, with support from a $2-million community investment from Scotiabank, to help members of underrepresented local communities and newcomers to Canada, including refugees, build the durable skills they need to pursue their career paths.
The generous gift from Scotiabank is part of ScotiaRISE, the Bank’s 10-year, $500-million initiative that aims to promote economic resilience among disadvantaged groups. Scotiabank’s latest investment is the largest ever to the School of Continuing Studies. It will support the School’s Experiential Empowerment & Development (SEED) Initiative, which aims to reduce barriers to career advancement and income stability while contributing to Montreal and Quebec’s civil society and economies.
“On behalf of the McGill community, I would like to express our gratitude to Scotiabank for helping to make this important initiative possible,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier. “This visionary and generous support will allow the School of Continuing Studies to continue to open doors to better employment opportunities for underrepresented groups.”
Helping to Remove Barriers
Financial obstacles, such as the cost of tuition and foregone earnings, often prevent newcomers, refugees, racialized communities, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups from effectively participating in career enhancing professional development. Language proficiency can also be a barrier to employability for many job seekers.
The SEED Initiative powered by ScotiaRISE is designed to serve students through targeted partnerships with organizations supporting historically excluded and equity-seeking populations. It also seeks to expand the set of possible life choices for individuals, such as pursuing further education or exploring career opportunities they might not otherwise have considered.
The SEED Initiative powered by ScotiaRISE will offer participants an unprecedented opportunity to acquire a credential in the essential skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing job market along with robust academic and student support services. The curriculum includes French and English language upskilling, personalized career coaching, practical, experiential learning, internship opportunities as well as networking with professionals and community leaders. Learners will be paired up with mentors, including Scotiabank employees, and receive job shadowing opportunities at various organizations and businesses.
“We are very proud to partner with McGill to address the barriers many face in achieving their career goals,” said Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President & Chief Sustainability, Social Impact and Communications Officer at Scotiabank. “Participants in the SEED program will strengthen work-ready skills and build greater economic resilience for themselves, their families and their communities. Through ScotiaRISE, we continue to focus on programs that enable our Bank to deliver on our purpose, for every future, and make a meaningful difference in the lives of people in our communities.”
“As part of the School’s mission, we have developed programs over the years to empower underserved and underrepresented members of the community at large,” said Carola Weil, Dean of Continuing Studies. “With the SEED Initiative powered by ScotiaRISE, we are building on our expertise in workforce development and an extensive network of local community and private sector partners to create a comprehensive approach to supporting these learners on their career paths.
“By empowering individuals to develop crucial career skills, they will be able to better take advantage of the many professional opportunities in Montreal and Quebec,” Weil added.
Starting in 2023, SEED will welcome up to 40 learners per year who will see their tuition costs covered by the Initiative. The Scotiabank gift also provides for a stipend for participants to help remove financial barriers so they can access the program.
A full-time intensive learner could complete the initiative in six to nine months, while a part-time learner might take 12 to 18 months.
The School will launch the initiative in an in-person format, but part of the funding will be used to convert the programming to online delivery to serve a wider community beyond Montreal, Weil explained.
Each year, the School of Continuing Studies welcomes more than 6,500 learners. The School hosts about 30 per cent of McGill’s Indigenous student population. Newcomers – immigrants or refugees who have arrived in the last five years – represent more than half of its student enrolment.
Photo credit: Owen Egan
(left to right): Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President & Chief Sustainability, Social Impact and Communications Officer at Scotiabank, Despina Sourias, City Councillor, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Carola Weil, Dean of Continuing Studies, Principal Suzanne Fortier, Dany Beauchemin, Co-Head, Global Investment Banking and Canadian & U.S. Corporate Banking, Scotiabank, and SCS alumna Lisa Kawennanóron Phillips.