On November 4, 2020, the Access Student Talent Program hosted a webinar with guest speaker Kitty Runstedler from Conestoga College. As an Employer Relations Consultant in the Co-operative Education department at Conestoga College, Kitty has valuable insight into the funding and incentive programs that are available for employers who wish to hire students. The webinar discussed valuable and important information for employers that we wanted to highlight, particularly around the Student Work Placement Program funding that is available to subsidize students’ wages.
The Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) is funded by the Federal Government through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). SWPP provides wage subsidies to organizations across Canada who offer post-secondary students paid work experience in their field of study. The program initially launched in 2017 with the goal of creating up to 11,500 new work-integrated learning opportunities by 2021. The government has since updated their goal with a new target of creating 84,000 jobs by 2023-2024.
ESDC works with a variety of Employer Delivery Partners who are a group of recognized associations and organizations that represent the interests of employers in different industries/sectors. The delivery partners work with businesses and post-secondary institutions to provide wage subsidies to employers that offer quality student work placements and create partnerships with colleges, universities, polytechnics and CEGEPs to recruit students for these placements.
Student work placement activities can include but are not limited to:
Businesses are provided 50% of the student’s wage (up to a maximum of $5000) and 70% (up to a maximum of $7000) for students from under-represented groups (For example, women in STEM, Indigenous students, newcomers, persons with disabilities, and first year students). Organizations can apply for funding for student work placements that are 12-16 weeks. Employers can stack provincial funding with SWPP funding but not other forms of federal funding (Such as Canada Summer Jobs, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy).
In response to the current challenges faced with COVID-19, ESDC has introduced changes to the Student Work Placement Program. Small and medium sized employers (500 employees or less) including not-for-profit organizations may receive up to 75% of the wage subsidies up-front, and remaining 25% halfway through the placement. Students will be able to work from home or other safe, remote worksites. SWPP partners have a pre-approval checklist to determine if businesses are eligible for funding before going through the hiring process. As of releasing this post, these COVID-19 Response measures are in place until April 30, 2021.
In order to receive funding, students must be on the employer’s payroll. Typically, employers will need to be able to pay student wages upfront (with some exceptions). Reimbursement often happens approximately 3-6 weeks after the end of the work term upon submission of all required documentation. Some program partners require the student to be hired prior to the employer applying. It’s important to look at all of the details from each funder as they may have additional requirements such as “the student cannot begin working until approved for funding.” There is no limit to the number of students that an organization may seek funding for, however funding is limited and at the discretion of the funding partners to disperse equitably across Canada. Employers may need to provide business insurance coverage as well. There also may be restrictions on hiring immediate family.
In order for students to qualify for the funding, they must be enrolled in a public post-secondary institution. They must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or protected person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. International students using a student VISA or work permit are not eligible for the funding at this time. They must be legally entitled to work in Canada. It is suggested to check with each funding partner for additional criteria for their specific program.
Below is the current list of SWPP Funding Partners. Please visit their sites for more detailed information about the subsidies that they provide:
Learn more about SWPP Funding online through the following resources:
To learn more about additional funding opportunities such as the Cooperative Education Tax Credit, Career Ready Drive Ability Funding, Canada Summer Jobs, Young Canada Works, Apprenticeships and more, check out the full webinar. For any questions about how the Access Student Talent Program can connect you with local student talent, please contact us.