Ottawa, September 19, 2023—The federal government’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) provides strong direct and indirect economic benefits, outstripping the Canadian taxpayer investment in the program, according to new research completed by ICTC in partnership with Magnet and with the support of a coalition of partners that includes ECO Canada, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Excellence in Manufacturing (EMC), Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) BioTalent, and TECHNATION.

The SWPP program is a work-integrated learning (WIL) program used in workforce development worldwide. WIL is shown to be associated with higher post-secondary student grades, better preparedness for career success, and improved adaptability once in the workplace.

The report published today, The Impact of Workforce Integrated Learning on Student Success and the Canadian Economy: An Evaluation of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP), evaluates the SWPP program through four surveys of SWPP students, SWPP employers, and “control” surveys of students and employers who have participated in other WIL programs and those who have not participated in WIL at all. Overall, the research finds clear evidence that the SWPP fills an essential need and creates positive outcomes for Canada’s economy and labour market.

The following are some key takeaways:

  • In the 2022-2023 fiscal year , 8,311 employers and 20,254 students participated in the SWPP
  • Each student creates $401 in additional value for employers per month; this equates to $3.33M per month or $13.33M per placement period since April 2022
  • Students earn $1,038 more per month in the SWPP vs. their next-best alternative; this equates to $21.02M per month or $84.09M per placement period since April 2022

The report found that only a quarter (24%) of SWPP employers would still have hired their SWPP students if they hadn’t received a subsidy to support the cost of their students’ salaries; this suggests that the SWPP plays an essential role not just in providing students with meaningful work experiences, but also ensuring that they are paid for their time.

The most highly rated positive outcomes of the SWPP for employers were filling short-term labour needs and evaluating students for future long-term employment; in fact, nearly half of the employers who engaged a SWPP student hired them full-time after graduation. For students, beyond the financial benefit, the SWPP played an important role in building their networks, honing their “soft skills,” boosting their confidence, and enhancing their understanding of real-life labour market needs.

“Work-integrated learning empowers students with the skills for today and tomorrow’s economy. Bridging the skills gap between academic learning and industry needs provides stronger pathways to employment while helping companies grow and compete in a global context, an important construct for supporting Canada’s economic aspirations in the coming years.” –Namir Anani, ICTC President and CEO

“Magnet is proud to have played a role in helping to create thousands of meaningful work-integrated learning opportunities for students through the Student Work Placement Program, particularly amid the challenging economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people are destined to play a critical role in shaping and creating Canada’s future workforce, driving vital change and innovation in the years ahead. Continuing to provide targeted support that helps young people grow and develop into contributing members of our labour market is an economic imperative for Canada.” –Mark Patterson, Executive Director, Magnet

About ICTC

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a neutral, not-for-profit national center of expertise with the mission of strengthening Canada’s digital advantage in the global economy. For over 30 years, and with a team of 110 experts, we have delivered forward-looking research, practical policy advice, and capacity-building solutions for individuals and businesses. The organization’s goal is to ensure that technology is utilized to drive economic growth and innovation and that Canada’s workforce remains competitive on a global scale.

About Magnet

Magnet is Canada’s only Digital Community Workforce System. An initiative out of Toronto Metropolitan University, Magnet proudly holds a unique position in Canada’s labour market landscape. Leveraging technology to empower the future workforce, we excel in generating system-level insights and driving impactful discussions. Through our collaborative efforts, we foster local innovation and provide tailored solutions that address policy priorities within the dynamic landscape of Canada’s labour market.

To arrange an interview on this study or other media inquiries, please contact Paul Stastny at @email or 403.351.0138 Ext. 823.

This study was funded, in part, by the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program.

A copy of the study can be accessed here.

A French-language press release of this report is here.