Youth unemployment has become an increasingly dangerous problem across Alberta over the last year. In January 2016, Alberta’s youth unemployment rate was 7.5%, up nearly 2% since January 2015. This substantial increase is troubling for many youth workers joining the labour market via summer internships. Many students face the possibility of not finding jobs this summer, which has prompted the Government of Alberta to take action.
Fortunately, the Alberta government will support the creation of youth employment opportunities through a subsidy for small businesses and other employers who hire summer students. The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) offers employers a $7/hour wage subsidy to provide students with full-time labour opportunities during the summer. Employers can save over 60% of a student’s wage for a 4-14 week employment period that commences with a student returning to high school or post-secondary education.
Application Deadline: Employers must apply to the Summer Temporary Employment Program by February 29, 2016 to be considered for this round of funding.
Employers Eligible for STEP Alberta Grant Funding
A wide range of organizations across Alberta can apply for STEP government grants for hiring students. These include:
- Alberta small businesses with fewer than 50 employees;
- Not-for-profit organizations;
- Municipalities, First Nations, or Métis Settlements;
- School boards; and
- Publicly funded post-secondary education institutions.
Eligible employers must be incorporated/registered, have been in operation for at least one year, and are able to provide safe working conditions. Small businesses must also have a valid Alberta Corporate Access Number (ACAN) in order to apply.
Positions Suitable for STEP Alberta Government Funding
Employers wishing to provide youth employment opportunities in return for a wage subsidy must ensure that the position is:
- Full-time (providing at least 30 hours per week);
- Providing employment for a period of 4-16 weeks; and
- Concluded prior to September 1, 2016.
Furthermore, caps are in place to regulate the number of STEP positions awarded to each applicant. Alberta small businesses may receive funding for up to 5 STEP positions, while other applicants can provide subsidized employment for 1-40 students, depending on the organization type.
Develop a Proactive Employment Funding Strategy
Small businesses within Alberta have a variety of options that assist hiring and training new employees. Since the Summer Temporary Employment Program will only provide funding for up to five students employed, some small businesses may be searching for other solutions to complement STEP.
The Canada Summer Jobs program provides small businesses (<50 employees) and not-for-profits with up to 50 and 100% of a summer student’s minimum wage respectively. Applicants for CSJ can receive up to $300,000 in funding towards multiple students’ wages for a 6-16 week period. While this program cannot be “stacked” with STEP, they can be used by the same organization to support hiring several positions. Employers must apply for Canada summer Jobs by February 26, 2016.
Alternately, students that are hired through one of these wage subsidies may require training to become competent with the skills they need. The Canada-Alberta Job Grant (CAJG) is a provincial stream of the Canada Job Grant, a federal funding program supporting the administration of third-party training. Employers in Alberta can access up to 66% of training costs, including trainer fees, textbooks, or online courses, to a maximum $10,000 per employee trained.
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