Toronto Finance International (TFI) has launched the third tier of The ASPIRE Edge – a free online business skill-building program for Canadian post-secondary students.

"The ASPIRE Edge is cultivating the work-ready employees of today and tomorrow, and it's a particularly timely program right now," says Jennifer Reynolds, TFI's president and CEO. "In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, students are finding it challenging to gain work experience. The ASPIRE Edge presents a unique opportunity for students to continue developing key skills that bridge the gap between education and the workplace."

Students build skills

The ASPIRE Edge is delivered as a three-tier simulation at a fictional NextGen Financial Services organization, and helps students hone the knowledge and skills that employers value. In tier one, students work in an associate role and begin building their communication, data acumen and resiliency skills. In tier two, they are promoted to an analyst role, focusing on problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills.

This third tier has students progressing to a manager trainee position, where they establish leadership skills, learn how to manage budgets and engage direct reports.

Students earn digital badge

Students who complete all three tiers will earn a digital badge, which can be added to their LinkedIn profile and shared across their social media channels as a way to highlight their newly acquired skills – and help them get noticed.

Financial services employers helped to design and develop The ASPIRE Edge, and are leveraging the program to train their student hires. "As an employer with student interns, we've found The ASPIRE Edge to be a fabulous interactive online simulation program," says Ana Kulis, talent and student program partner at TMX Group. "It helps students to think outside the box, so they can tackle day-to-day business challenges more strategically and confidently."

TFI is a public-private partnership between Canada's three levels of government, the financial services sector and academia.