Work Integrated Learning Programs. What are they and how can you benefit?

Jacqueline Cruz
March 23, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed scaling companies to think outside of the box. Now more than ever, we see businesses exploring new and often under-utilized ways to get the job done. Student hires are sources of untapped talent that can provide your company with fresh perspectives and the latest skills needed to build sustainable success. You may be asking yourself, “how can I tap into these resources?” or “is it feasible for my company to onboard a student hire right now?”. Luckily, there are programs designed to connect companies in the digital economy with funding opportunities and student talent.     This article will explain:  

What is Work Integrated Learning?

 Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is the bridge connecting talent, opportunity, and funding. Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada defines it as, “A model and process of curricular experiential education which formally and intentionally integrates a student’s academic studies within a workplace or practice setting”. Essentially, Work Integrated Learning enables growing start-ups and scale-ups to access emerging student talent and reduces hiring costs through subsidies. WIL plays an integral part in developing up-and-coming talent while providing companies with the human resources they need to continue scaling.     At ventureLAB, Work Integrated Learning programs have brought in a wealth of talent, adding value to our team and helping us achieve pertinent business objectives.  

The Career Ready Program has been instrumental in our hiring of four students during the fall of 2020. These students have contributed to key strategic initiatives (The Hardware Catalyst Initiative and our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy) and other key areas at ventureLAB. The work that these students are doing has enabled us to maximize our impact on tech start-ups within our ecosystem.”    - Wei Guo, Partnerships Manager, ventureLAB

 Programs like the one offered by TECHNATION allow Canadian businesses to connect with talent and funding. The Career Ready Program subsidy not only supplies companies with affordable talent, but creates a more inclusive tech sector by giving underrepresented student populations access to opportunities working in the digital economy. These programs will often subsidize the cost for student hires, covering up to 75% and to a maximum of $7,000 in salary expenses. In some areas of the country, the subsidy can be used with provincial subsidies and tax credits, reducing costs even further. It is important to note that you are still responsible for covering upfront hiring costs, and will be subsidized after the end of placement period.  

Why are students valuable resources?

 Simply put, today's students are well equipped to keep up with ever-changing digital demands. These digital-natives are capable of navigating the latest and greatest tools, systems, and platforms you need to stay ahead of the game.    In the 2017/2018 school year alone, 26.3% of post-secondary students were enrolled in a STEM program. According to StatsCanada, mathematics, computer, and information sciences programs experienced the strongest growth over the past decade (+102.7% enrollment). Not only does this reflect a shift toward the digitization of our society, but it highlights a natural propensity from our current students toward careers in the digital economy.       Campuses across the country are offering comprehensive programs focused on developing skills needed to thrive in the digital age. Academic institutions cover almost everything from digital design, computer analytics, database development, event and media production, and more. Did you know that Seneca College offers over 40 programs that can be translated into work experience learning in the tech sector? Their team supports your company as you look to onboard new talent, making the process seamless.  

How to apply for TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program Subsidy

 With the help of host organizations and academic partners, applying for WIL is simple. Here’s a step by step guide on how to apply for WIL:  

STEP 1: Create a job listing for a participating academic institution

 Some academic institutions, like Seneca College, have a team dedicated to WIL making your experience easy and stress-free. You can get in contact with the team if you need assistance filling out the Job Listing Form. They will be there to support you throughout your WIL experience.  

STEP 2: Hire an applicant!

 After your listing has been approved by the academic institution, you are ready to start interviewing applicants. You can receive applications directly from candidates or from your academic partner’s team.    When you have selected your applicant, a WIL coordinator will help you through the details and next steps.  

Hiring Students for the Summer? Here are 5 interview questions you should be asking.

STEP 3: Apply for the subsidy

 You must hire a student before you are eligible to apply for TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program subsidy. As mentioned previously, organizations like TECHNATION require you to front the costs for your new hire. After your Final Review, you will receive the reimbursement.     In the application stage, you will be required to provide information about your company and your student hire to find out if you are eligible for the subsidy.  

Step 4: Get approval

 After your application has been approved, you will be asked to complete and sign a Placement Agreement.     Meet with your student to gain a more detailed understanding of their goals and objectives for the term and submit the Student Learning Plan.     Once your first two tasks are complete, you will then need to upload their Proof of First Payment and submit all three tasks for secondary review.  

Step 5: Receive your subsidy

 Before receiving your approved subsidy, you will need to fill out your Deposit and Banking Information and upload a document to support the amount of gross pay you claimed under Final Gross Student Earnings.     Once you have submitted all the required information, you will receive up to 70% of your student’s gross pay. For more information, you can visit Employer and Information Resources on TechNation’s website.         Interested in getting involved with our next Seneca and TECHNATION event? Contact Stephanie Bagnarol, Partnerships Coordinator at for more information.  

About Seneca College

 Seneca is taking on the great challenges of our time – rebuilding the economy, equity and sustainability – while navigating through the pandemic safely. We’re delivering great polytechnic education that combines rigorous academics with practical training. From health care to technology, business to creative arts, community services to arts and sciences, we help students get ready to make their mark in the world. We’re #Senecaproud of our expert faculty, excellent staff and outstanding facilities. We have deep connections with industry and offer thousands of co-op and work placements to get our graduates job-ready. Full-time or part-time, in-person or online, students choose the option that suits them. Learn more:


TECHNATION is the industry-government nexus for technology prosperity in Canada. As a member-driven, not-for-profit, TECHNATION unites Canada’s technology sector, governments and communities to enable technology prosperity in Canada. TECHNATION champions technology prosperity by providing advocacy, professional development and networking opportunities across industry and governments at all levels; connecting Canadian scale-ups with global tech leaders; engaging the global supply chain; and filling the technology talent pipeline. TECHNATION has served as the authoritative national voice of the $210 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 43,200 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates more than 666,500 jobs and invests $7.5 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer. For more information:

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focus on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise over $120 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.

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