City of Edmonton team lauded for connecting university talent with municipal work experience

Outreach team works with 60 post-secondary schools and employers to help students gain work experience and reduce employment barriers.

The City of Edmonton comes by its commitment to connecting University of Alberta students with careers and future opportunities honestly.

"Building employment partnerships with post-secondary institutions, employment organizations and community groups is a key part of the city's diversification of the workforce strategy," said Aly Moorji, team lead for the Talent Outreach and Work Experience Programs, which was awarded this year's UAlberta Advocate Award. "The University of Alberta is a valued and respected institution in the community, whose students and alumni make up an important part of the city's workforce today and into the future."

While there is a natural link between the U of A and Edmonton that dates back to the earliest days of the 20th century when Alberta first became a province, Moorji said it's not just about exposing students to underrated career paths.

"If we can expose students to public service and the municipal government, they will have had a taste of what it is like to work for the city and want to come back after they graduate," he added.

The city's Talent Outreach and Work Experience Programs group works with about 60 post-secondary institutions and employment organizations to provide work experience and reduce employment barriers for Indigenous people, people with disabilities, newcomers and people from multicultural communities.

Moorji explained his team develops and manages a host of student opportunities, including a co-op placement, summer jobs and a public sector graduate internship program. His team also facilitates and promotes a vast job-shadowing program, in partnership with the U of A, that has seen 150 employees from every level of the city's public service give more than 300 students an up-close look at a career in municipal government.

"These programs are very important to the city because this is the future of the workforce and we value the perspectives that youth and students bring to help build a great city," he said.

Moorji, a U of A alumnus who also sits on the professional development advisory board in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, said the work of promoting the city to the best and the brightest is a city-wide initiative that sees people from all departments participate in promotional events from visiting U of A classrooms to attending campus career fairs.

"It's fantastic that we have city employees who support learning at the university," he said. "The U of A is the premier university within the region, so naturally the city of Edmonton definitely wants to foster that partnership."

Moorji added the opportunities with the city are almost endless thanks to 19 occupational groups that employ more than 13,000 people in a range of careers from construction on the LRT or building great neighbourhoods, to working as part of the city's Waste Management Centre team or providing strategic direction to city council.

"One of the big draws for us is the programs offered at the university are a direct link into the occupations we have at the City of Edmonton," he said.

The Talent Outreach and Work Experience Programs team will be recognized at a ceremony at Edmonton City Hall at noon on May 13, along with Megan Strickfaden, winner of the Community Scholar Award, and Lisa Prins, this year's recipient of the Community Leader Award.