Many Canadian companies could benefit from hiring intern students and recent post-secondary graduates. Not only do youth candidates possess the skills and enthusiasm that can support operational success, but they can also help your company qualify for hiring grants and wage subsidies. While Canadian government funding for hiring experienced professionals is generally quite limited, there are several opportunities for employers to receive funding for post-secondary students and recent graduates.
Canadian employers can receive up to 50-70% of an intern’s wage to a maximum $5k-$7k, or up to 50% of a recent graduate’s wage to a maximum $12k-$15k in hiring grants.
Spring and summer are the ideal times to use these incentives since there is a large youth talent pool and funding programs are generally open to applications. Since many hiring grants operate on a first-come, first-served basis, such as the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, interested employers should start the recruitment process as soon as possible. Current employees are not eligible for retroactive payments; employers must receive funding approval prior to hiring the candidate to qualify.
Hiring Grant Options: Access Funding to Provide Youth Employment
While many Canadian businesses know that hiring grants and wage subsidies exist, few understand how they help, how they impact the recruitment process, or what they must do to access funding.
Most hiring grants and wage subsidies in Canada are directed at two types of hires:
- Recent post-secondary graduates being hired into full-time, permanent positions; and
- Student interns being hired into temporary roles that provide relevant work experience.
Hiring incentives are provided to employers for a couple of reasons. For students and recent graduates, paid work experience provides relevant, meaningful job experience that leads to greater understanding of their strengths and interests. For employers, offering internships and first career opportunities helps access a young, energetic audience that can grow within your company. There are also considerable financial advantages:
Option #1: Hiring Grants for Recent Post-Secondary Graduates
Hiring recent post-secondary graduates is one of the best approaches to growing your company. These candidates are often excited to kick off their professional employment and are highly educated in skills that could have a direct positive impact on your business. Recruiting recent graduates can be done online or through in-person activities like attending job fairs, which makes it easy to connect with qualified youth.
Hiring grants in this category, such as Mitacs Accelerate and Mitacs Elevate usually provide the most amount of support since, compared to internships, candidates tend to be more skilled and will spend a longer period with your company. Most hiring grants for recent post-secondary graduates require that the worker spend 26-52 weeks with your firm to qualify, and the worker is typically expected to continue working with your company after the funding period concludes.
When hiring recent post-secondary graduates, employers can receive up to 50% of the hire’s wages to a maximum of $300,000 or up to 100% of wages covered if your business in a not-for-profit.
“Recent graduate” in the context of funding usually means that the job candidate graduated within the last 2-3 years and is currently unemployed or underemployed. Funding programs also require that the candidate be hired for certain types of roles, including (but not limited to) digital economy (computer and information systems, graphic design, software development, web development), cleantech, environment, and other roles using the candidate’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) background.
Option #2: Hiring Grants for Student Internships
Another strategy that businesses may use to enhance workforce productivity is hiring student interns for co-op positions. Student interns are often excited to break out of the classroom for some practical, hands-on education, and employers can benefit from the workload that these youth can support. While it may be difficult to reach these types of candidates through typical job boards, attending virtual job fairs and using college or university-specific job boards can generate interest in your company.
While not as lucrative as some of the incentives offered for hiring recent post-secondary grads, internship hiring grants are an effective, easily adopted method for getting funding to host a student. Co-op periods typically last for 16-18 weeks, and it’s not uncommon for employers to host multiple co-op students at the same time to optimize their funding potential. After the internship period has ended, the co-op students return to school so they can receive more formal classroom training.
When hiring co-op students, employers can receive up to 50% of the intern’s wages to a maximum $5,000. This increases to 70%/$7,000 if the intern is part of an under-represented group, such as women in STEM or newcomers to Canada.
One important point to consider with internship funding programs is that employers can only receive grants for net new co-op positions. This means that if an employer received funding for three interns over the 2021-2022 government fiscal year and hosted four internship positions in fiscal year 2022-2023, only one of those interns would be eligible for funding. The goal here is to continuously offer more internships in the next fiscal year and expand your funding potential.
How Hiring Grants Fit into the Recruitment Process
Now that you know the options available when it comes to hiring grants, it’s important to illustrate how they fit into optimizing the recruitment process. Ensuring your company completes the funding process correctly in conjunction with hiring the candidate is essential to being successful and accessing grants. Following these steps can help simplify the application process and maintain your funding eligibility:
- Develop a candidate pool for your position;
- Screen job candidates and select one or more person to tentatively fill the position(s);
- Apply for hiring grants, matching the position and candidate to a relevant funding program;
- Wait approximately five business days for the government’s response with funding decision; and
- Hire the candidate and complete any additional documentation needed.
After funding is in place, you can formally provide an employment offer to the candidate. Hiring a candidate and placing them on payroll prior to government funding approval can significantly complicate the process and often leads to applications being deemed ineligible.
Receive Support to Identify and Apply for Hiring Grants
This article has explored two main funding options available to employers, grants for hiring recent post-secondary graduates and grants for hiring student interns. Both options maintain several government funding incentives which are generally targeted towards specific industries or a particular candidate focus. With so many funding programs available, it’s often best to reach out to a specialist who can discuss your specific hiring needs and identify a program that works best for your company.
Contact Mentor Works to discuss your eligibility, identify the types of incentives providing support, and optimize the application process.