Primary Reservists find civilian employment success

LINK - April 2017 / May 31, 2017

By David Calconi, Carrer Edge

A new program is helping members of the Primary Reserve Force secure work opportunities that align with their civilian career goals, and that support and respect their continued service with their respective reserve units.

Primary Reservists play a critical role in Canada's strategy to develop a diverse and qualified pool of military personnel, yet many leave the force when faced with limited job prospects within their civilian communities. Training for Primary Reservists represents a significant investment for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), so keeping active Reservists living, working, and serving in their community is vitally important to Canada's national defence.

To help Reservists connect with local civilian employment, Career Edge - a Canadian social enterprise - has launched the CAF Reservists' Paid Internship Program. Supported by Employment and Social Development Canada, in partnership with the Department of National Defence, the program is reinforcing the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy, as well as the CAF's mission of retention and high readiness in the Reserves.


Compared to the average job seeker, Primary Reservists face greater barriers when it comes to finding civilian jobs that can accommodate their training schedule and other military commitments. Recognizing this challenge, Career Edge works with its network of employers to educate them on the type of accommodations Reservists need, while creating work opportunities that allow Reservists to get their foot in the door with employers that are committed to supporting the Canadian Forces.

Since the program's implementation phase began last year, Reservists have already secured career-related internships in targeted corporate industries such as financial services, IT and telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and professional services.


After breaking into the civilian workforce through the internship model, Reservists are able to gain meaningful work experience that reflects their education and career objectives, while leveraging the skills they have developed through their military training and service.

"The internship has provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn, and apply the skills and knowledge I've acquired throughout my military career and academic studies," said Master Caporal (MCpl) Roy Liang of the 32 Signals Regiment, who secured an internship opportunity with a major Canadian pharmaceuticals company through the program. "Overall, [the internship] has been a great support in helping me launch my career in the field of human resources management," he said.

Prior to completing his placement, MCpl Liang was offered a permanent role with the same company that provided his internship opportunity.

Similarly, Private Andrés Lapeña of the Royal Regiment of Canada also secured his civilian "dream job" following his internship.

"I received an offer of employment from RBC's Know Your Client department as an Analyst. It starts as soon as my internship is over. This was the exact role I was aiming for when I started the internship so the fact that it all came together is amazing for me," said Lapeña.


Securing a civilian job near their reserve unit has enabled Reservists to shift their focus back to their military training and remain settled in their community. Employers that have hired Reservists through the program recognize the value they bring to the workforce, and have made accommodations that allow for parade nights, weekend exercises, and summer training.

Civilian employers are also more understanding of Reservists' needs and have augmented their recruitment strategies in order to be more military-friendly. This has paved the way for more Reservists to connect with civilian employment opportunities, without having to limit their training, relocate, or leave the military altogether, which is contributing to greater retention in the Reserves.

For instance, Scotiabank has amplified its military recruitment strategies within its Diversity Recruitment Team by hiring Sergeant (Sgt) Ryan Vine, a Reservist with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. With his knowledge of the Canadian Forces rank structure and qualifications, Sgt Vine is responsible for the sourcing and facilitation of Veteran, active and former Reservists included, recruitment within the bank, while working with community partners to recruit Syrian newcomers.

Since he started his own internship in August 2016, Sgt Vine has helped fellow Reservists join the bank through the recruitment and promotion of candidates with military experience. "Being able to have a direct positive effect on the hiring of Veterans and Reservists makes my job extremely rewarding," he said. "I was able to hire a new Financial Advisor Trainee in Hamilton, Ontario straight from the Career Edge CAF Reservists Program. The member was having difficulty finding civilian employment in his field and wanted to work up the ranks as a Financial Advisor. Finding another member from the same brigade a position that is in-line with their career goals felt like a major accomplishment."

The CAF Reservists' Paid Internship Program is a three-year pilot project, but Career Edge is focused on making it self-sustaining, with plans to expand across Canada within the next year. To learn more visit: