Created in 2010, the Experiential Learning Employer Excellence award distinguishes employers that are supporting the futures of significant numbers of young people across the province through experiential learning programs. To earn this annual designation an employer must have provided at least 50 learning opportunities in the previous academic year (September through to August).
Applications are assessed using a simple point system. A minimum total of 50 points is required to earn the award. One point is awarded for every school-work opportunity, either student placement or outreach activity, provided by an employer in the previous academic year (September through to August).
The following types of school-work opportunities are recognized:
- Cooperative Education
- School-Work Transition Programs
- Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
- Specialist High Skills Major Program
- Job Shadowing/Mentoring
- Volunteer Placements
- Career Fair Participation
- Classroom Visits/Career Talks
- Workplace Tours
For student placements, one point is awarded for each participating student. For outreach activities, one point is awarded for each initiative.
Applications can be completed and submitted electronically or by mail. The electronic and print application forms are available on the nominations page.
Every time an employer provides a student with the opportunity to gain work-related knowledge, skills and experience, they make an incalculable positive contribution to the quality of a young person's life and career prospects.
The award recognizes and validates the efforts of employers that provide significant numbers of work-based learning opportunities for Ontario high school students, and for which their local communities, industry sectors and employees should be proud.
Recipients are presented with a commemorative award and publicly acknowledged for their important contributions. They also enjoy the right to use the Council for Experiential Learning Ontario Employer emblem in their corporate, marketing and communications materials.
There are no fees associated with the awards.
Application forms are due in December each year.
Experiential learning programs deliver positive impacts for students, businesses and local economies, and can help address pressing labour market issues, including Ontario's rapidly aging workforce and the ever-increasing demand for workers with higher levels of education, skills and experience.
For students, experiential learning programs offer real life, first-hand experience and exposure to the skills needed in a particular position. School-work programs have also been found to support higher retention, graduation and postsecondary participation rates as well as boosting academic achievement, attitude and preparation.
For employers, participating in experiential learning programs provides an early opportunity to engage Ontario's future workforce and raise awareness about career options they may not have considered. School-work programs are also a cost-effective alternative for recruiting, training and retaining young workers, which, in turn, can provide a professional development opportunity for existing employees to build management, mentorship and communication skills.
For local economies, experiential learning programs also help address workforce challenges, such as skills shortages. Moreover, better skilled workers will allow businesses to reap greater rewards, which will support and drive local economic growth.
Over the past five years, 25+ organizations have earned the Experiential Learning Employer Excellence award (formerly the Ontario Employer designation). Visit the Past Recipients page to learn about the school-work opportunities each organization provided to earn their designation status.
Comprised of leaders from the private, public and voluntary sectors, the CEL is a volunteer advisory committee of the Government of Ontario. The CEL's mission is to ensure that every employer in Ontario appreciates the value of engaging high school students in meaningful experiences that foster workplace skills development and inform educational and career-related decisions.