The Empowering Futures Program is Canada’s Student Work Placement Program for the electricity industry, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Aimed at preparing students for the future of work, the program will create new work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities in electricity by providing subsidies of up to $7,500 per student position to the employers who create these new opportunities.
The international COVID-19 pandemic has impacted WIL opportunities, as well as our broader economy and education system. We’ve been collecting resources to help employers, educators and workers in this challenging situation. In order to mitigate the impact and ensure ongoing WIL placements, ESDC has provided flexibility measures to help employers, educators, and students.
These measures are in place until March 31, 2021.
Educators as Employers
Most significant is that PSEs can now access funding as employers of record for SWPP. This means you can hire your own (or other) students for WIL positions and receive up to $7,000 for their wages. As many external organizations are struggling with operations, you can ensure that your students are still receiving work experience and developing professional skills. For any STEAM (non-trades) students, we can provide wage subsidies for WIL placements.
Waiving Net-New Requirement
Previously, the funding was only available when employers exceeded the previous number of placements. Now, funding is available to all eligible placements, regardless of the employer’s previous placements.
Previously, the program covered 50-70% of wages up to $7,000. Now, all eligible placements can receive 75% of wages subsidized up to $7,500.
Employers (including educators as described above) that are considering WIL placements can now be pre-approved as an organization before finalizing their selection of student(s) to hire. You can fast-track the hiring process and administration by submitting an application with one job description and participant: future applications will be greatly simplified. We strongly encourage you to begin this process immediately, as it will tremendously accelerate your institution in hiring students.
If students have the ability to do so, they can complete their WIL placement from home or other safe, remote worksites (if they can fulfill their job duties and communicate with their employer). CEWIL Canada, the national WIL organization, is supporting this with #WILfromhome on social media and their networks.
If needed, employers have the flexibility to postpone placement start dates or reduce the duration of placements. However, employers receiving funding need to ensure placements occur before the agreement end date or request an extension along with a rationale for the request.
Webinar: Empowering Futures for Educators & SWPP Pandemic Flexibility Measures
EHRC’s Director of Programs and Development, Mark Chapeskie, hosted a webinar to provide a high-level overview of Empowering Futures for post-secondary educators (PSEs), with a focus on PSEs as employers of record.
You can also download the webinar slide deck.
An overview on how Empowering Futures can connect your students to invaluable WIL opportunities.
Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an essential step to transition from school to work, and the best way to learn how to put education into practice. To show how WIL contributes to the talent pipeline and career growth in Canada’s electricity sector, we’ve published Empowering the Next-Generation Workforce, a thought paper informed by experts with practical recommendations on how we can increase WIL uptake and best prepare the next generation of electricity workers.
From the boardroom to the front line, careers in electricity take more than technical skills—they require professional skills: the ability to communicate, work together, and organize work effectively. To explain these skills and the value they have to any worker or employer, we’ve published Skill savvy. Based on research and international best practices, this paper identifies 10 professional skills that all electricity sector workers need, where they fall short, and how they can be fostered by educators and employers through work-integrated learning.