Just in time for the new school year, the Government of Canada has announced it will provide work opportunities for post-secondary students seeking jobs at tech companies.

Bardish Chagger, federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism and MP for Waterloo, was in Kitchener today at D2L to announce the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) Career Ready Program.

The new program aims to create quality work-integrated learning opportunities and focusses on high-demand occupations in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and business fields. ITAC will be responsible for matching students with small-to-medium sized tech companies. The students must be from five targeted streams, including business technology management, computer science, computer technology systems, computer engineering or similar programs.

The Career Ready Program helps companies by providing up to 50 per cent (to a maximum of $5,000) of a student’s pay in wage subsidies. Additional funding will be provided to companies who hire students from underrepresented groups, including women, indigenous students, recent immigrants, persons with disabilities and first-year students.

“Students tell me the Catch-22 is they need and want work experience, but the jobs they want to apply to require prior experience,” said Chagger. “Sixty-thousand students will be able to gain experience and find jobs as co-ops, interns and apprentices. We will make sure jobs are provided to first year and underrepresented students.”

John Baker, CEO of D2L, the education technology company headquartered at the Tannery, noted this is the busiest time of the year for the company as its gears up for the new school year after Labour Day. He also explained hiring co-op students has been integral for the success of D2L, and the company will continue to offer work placements to students.

“As a bootstrapped company, we leveraged co-ops. We value these types of programs, and we believe they’ll be part of our story as we grow our [company],” said Baker.

The Career Ready Program will launch in Ontario this year for students at a select number of post-secondary schools. More schools will be added in 2018 as the program expands to British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.