Updated research examining the outcomes of the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) finds that the federal paid work experience initiative for post-secondary students has generated almost $100 million in economic benefit and value for participating students and employers in every program placement period since April 2022.
The report, The Impact of Workforce Integrated Learning on Student Success and the Canadian Economy: An Evaluation of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, was published by the Information Communications Technology Council in partnership with Magnet, both of which are currently acting as delivery partners for SWPP.
Building on a 2022 report that captured the positive impact SWPP made for employers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, research was led by ICTC and Magnet in collaboration with six other current SWPP delivery partners from a total of 18 active partners across Canada. Overall, both reports show a general trend of positive outcomes relating to SWPP’s economic value and the experience for student and employer participants.
This latest report cites data showing an approximate value of $13.33 million generated for employers per SWPP period and an approximate $84.1 million benefit per period for students who completed paid placements.
Launched in 2017 by Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) provides eligible employers with wage subsidy funding when they hire a post-secondary student for a quality, paid work-integrated learning experience.
The report explains that participation in work-integrated learning (WIL) is “associated with higher grades, students being better prepared for career success, better informed about their chosen careers, and improved self-efficacy and adaptability.”
The report is based on the findings of a series of surveys, one each with students and employers who participated in the SWPP, and control surveys with students and employers who either participated in a different WIL program or didn’t participate in WIL at all.
According to the report, students who completed a SWPP placement felt more confident in finding work after graduation and had a higher self-assessment of their skills and abilities in collaboration, adaptability, creativity, and innovation.
The survey of SWPP employers reveals that less than a quarter (24 percent) would have hired a student without the support of wage subsidy funding. SWPP also provided what the report calls “an important lifeline” for employers amid the upheaval and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, with wage subsidy funding allowing many small businesses to continue investing in talent and generating returns despite economic challenges.
“Magnet is proud to have played a role in helping to facilitate 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,” said Mark Patterson, Magnet’s Executive Director.
Employers who hired through SWPP and other WIL programs found them helpful in filling short-term staffing needs and evaluating student hires for potential long-term employment. Nearly half of participating employers (48 percent) hired a former WIL student into a full-time role upon graduation.
The report’s findings highlight not just the economic value of the SWPP but also the importance of partners working together across sectors to generate economic growth by providing applicant support, promotional efforts, and collaborative technology solutions.
Patterson also said it’s essential that Canada prepare its youth for career success through initiatives such as SWPP, given the future impact and influence those youth will have on our collective economic growth and development.
“Young people are destined to play a critical role in shaping Canada’s future workforce, driving vital change and innovation in the years ahead,” Patterson said. “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.”