With the rapid growth of evolving industries such as information and communications technology (ICT), the need for digital skills has created demand for an estimated 216,000 additional technology workers by 2021. Companies need skilled personnel who can fulfill specific tech positions and develop and use these technologies in innovative ways. As small and medium-sized businesses often have individuals who wear multiple hats and take on tasks in addition to their role, there may be a need for additional technical talent to remain competitive.
Fortunately for small and medium-sized businesses, the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has created the Digital Link Ontario program. The purpose of Digital Link Ontario is to build ICT/digital talent for growing companies to fulfill emerging technology needs. It enables recent ICT/digital post-secondary graduates to enter evolving and high-growth opportunities across Ontario.
Through the Digital Link Ontario program, companies can receive an incentive of up to $3,000 in hiring grants towards a recent ICT/digital media grad.
To apply for the Digital Link Ontario program, employers must fill out an online application form. To begin the application, a business registration number, comprehensive liability insurance, and position details (including job description and estimated gross salary for a four-month period) is required to advance.
What is Digital Link Ontario?
Digital Link Ontario is a provincial grant program creating opportunities for recent graduates to get work experience in the emerging technology sectors of the provinces’ economy. Through this program, companies can invest in talent and grow their business, while grads get the chance to learn “on-the-job” skills. Companies applying must be able to provide work experience for the recent graduate in an emerging technology sector.
Ontario businesses seeking individuals to fill ICT/digital roles can apply to receive an incentive of up to $3,000 for hiring a recent graduate.
Employers interested in the Ontario grant program must commit to hiring the graduate for a full time (min 30 hours/week), paid placement for a minimum of four months. The individual being hired must have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution within 18 months of the placement start date.
Companies have several options to find candidates such as working with post-secondary institutions, using job board websites, or through internal networking. If a company has been accepted to receive the hiring grants, upon providing a copy of the graduate’s last pay stub, they will obtain the incentive four to six weeks after the four-month placement.
Eligibility Criteria for Digital Link Ontario
In order to be a canidate for Digital Link Ontario, applicants must:
- Apply for the digital media grants before hiring or placing a grad in a job position;
- Have general liability insurance and operate/provide a workplace in Ontario;
- Provide the graduate a paid placement in an ICT/digital skill-focused role for a minimum of four months, and minimum of 30 hours per week;
- Provide a placement that advances the graduate’s ICT, digital, and business skills relevant to employment in an emerging technology;
- Have a minimum of two paid employees on staff; and
- Hire the graduate as an employee and put him/her on the company payroll.
Employers applying are encouraged to keep graduate(s) on beyond the placement as this Ontario grant program is intended to be a stepping stone for new graduates.
Organizations expressing the need for talent in one or more of the following areas may be eligible to receive hiring grants:
- Advanced manufacturing;
- Additional ICT/digital sectors;
- Connected transportation;
- Cloud computing;
- Cyber security;
- Blockchain; and
Recent Graduate Eligibility
Potential graduate hires must:
- Live in the Province of Ontario;
- Have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution within 18 months of the placement start date;
- Be out of work or underemployed when applying for the application; and
- Be either a Canadian citizen, a protected person as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or a permanent resident.
How to Apply: Digital Link Ontario Hiring Grants
Companies interested in applying for digital media grants through Digital Link Ontario are asked to apply through the ICTC Digital Link Ontario Employer Application Form. There is no maximum set on how many individuals a company can receive funding for.
The program is currently accepting applications and has not specified a closing date.
If a company is chosen to receive hiring grants, at the end of the four-month placement term, the employer and recent graduate will be asked to complete a survey to discuss skills learned by the graduate. Proof of wage payments (ex. Payroll forms) will also have to be provided. Companies will receive the incentive four to six weeks after the four-month placement upon providing a copy of the graduate’s last pay stub.
Could Your Business Access Hiring Grants?
Canadian businesses have additional avenues to receive government grants to hire post-secondary graduates. Grant programs can allow a company to offset onboarding and training costs, offer competitive wages, and attract new talent.
An easy way to begin the process is to use Mentor Works’ Wage Subsidy Identifier form. By giving us information about your potential hires, we can help discover hiring grants and wage subsidies for your new employees and determine the most appropriate path to funding.