Work-Integrated Learning: What it means for Canada’s Tech Industry and Employers

In the last few years, Canada has seen a tech talent shortage. Two of our main goals at TECHNATION is to continue to grow the talent pool and to remain competitive in vital areas like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI).

Developing the next generation of talent is critical, and as a result we built the Career Ready Program to support work-integrated learning (WIL) in Canada’s tech sector. With tech-immersive WIL, organizations get the people they need to grow and develop new technologies while offering valuable work experience to up-and-coming tech talent.

Providing the tech sector with affordable talent

Young tech talent are often drawn to the excitement and innovation of startups, but many startups struggle with cash flow—making hiring entry-level employees a challenge. Luckily, WIL is a low-risk proposition for companies, which makes hiring young talent an easy decision, especially when wage subsidies are factored in.

With a 75% subsidy, up to a maximum of $7,500, the Career Ready Program provides employers with skilled, knowledgeable consultants at an affordable price, opening up opportunities for both the tech industry and young talent. Even better, this subsidy can be stacked with provincial subsidies and tax credits, so in some areas of the country, these funds can nearly cover the full cost of employing a student.

Whether you need entry-level talent to contribute to day-to-day operations, or a specialized consultant to work short-term on a specific project or problem, WIL can help you temporarily fill a gap within your organization.

Work-integrated learning sparks innovation

Programs like Career Ready are developing the next generation of tech talent, and employers are benefitting as their critical projects go from “To Do” to “Done.” When highly skilled students come into an organization, they bring a fresh perspective that can be key to innovative ideas and solutions.

Students often make recommendations employers haven’t even considered, and then take the lead in executing their ideas. In fact, Career Ready Program employers often tell us they’re surprised and impressed by the depth of skill students provide. Since most Career Ready Program placements are held by co-op students, and because entry into co-op programs is extremely competitive, employers are getting the best and brightest young talent before anyone else.

We don’t only support STEM students through the Career Ready Program. There are many people with transferable skills that apply to the tech sector who are eligible for wage subsidies. We once provided a wage subsidy for a linguistics student hired by an AI translation company in Atlantic Canada.

Immersing students from various disciplines in a tech environment is not only critical for the growth of individual organizations—it also has serious implications for the future of tech in Canada. As a country, we’re behind when it comes to AI and cybersecurity (look at the number of data breaches in recent years, from the CRA to LifeLabs to Equifax). By providing opportunities for students to contribute to cybersecurity and AI innovations, we’re growing the talent pool in Canada, which ensures we have the people we need to protect privacy, reduce fraud and keep our economy competitive.

Making the tech sector more inclusive

Another one of our priorities is to build a more inclusive tech sector that better reflects the diversity within Canada. Through the Career Ready Program, we’re carving out and defining pathways into tech for Black and Indigenous students, women, newcomers and people who live with disabilities.

TECHNATION is actively working to attract people in these groups by offering opportunities for students who have transferable skills that are in demand with tech companies—like digital marketing. Plus, Black, Indigenous, women and newcomer students who are enrolled in a STEM program will have access to additional subsidies, offering further incentive for employers to have inclusive teams.

Giving students a competitive advantage

Above and beyond applying their technical and analytical skills to real-world situations and challenges, students also develop essential soft skills—effective communication, teamwork, leadership and initiative—skills that ensure they’re ready for a career in tech.

Hiring a permanent untested employee can be a risk, especially for companies with tight budgets or timelines that can’t afford to make a hiring error. Unlike other recent university or college graduates, those who have done a co-op or another WIL placement are workforce-ready and already have the benefit of job experience. And they have the practical skills to hit the ground running, reducing onboarding and on-the-job training time. By hiring WIL students, companies elevate their organizations and the tech industry as a whole.

With the proven ability to solve problems, think innovatively and propel technology forward, new graduates who have participated in WIL are going to play a crucial role in keeping Canada’s technology sector competitive.

The TECHNATION Career Ready Program

Developing the next generation of tech talent. Learn more about TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program today!

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