Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) has been shown to benefit both students and employers and is a well-regarded strategy to strengthen the workforce. The Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) is a large Canadian WIL program, funded by the federal government, that provides subsidies for employers to hire post-secondary students on a short-term basis. The outcomes of participation in SWPP are assumed to be positive, but little research has been conducted to understand who participates in SWPP, why they participate (or do not), and how SWPP impacts students or employers. Moreover, not much data is available about SWPP impacts by placement type or sector.
This study uses a survey of SWPP participants to fill this research gap on student placements in Canada’s rapidly scaling digital economy. This survey data allows for the development of an economic model that estimates the costs and benefits of SWPP participation for both employers and students, and finds that both groups receive economic benefit exceeding the subsidy or salary they receive. The survey also allows for comparison between SWPP participants and non-SWPP participants, painting a clearer picture of who participates in SWPP and why they do so. This research suggests that SWPP, like WIL more broadly, is an effective model for strengthening Canada’s digital economy labour force and provides value to youth and employers alike. Further efforts to expand and deepen the program’s impact would be beneficial.