Experience required: SHRC delivers internship opportunities

The Software Human Resource Council’s (SHRC) national youth software internship program aims to help recent college or university graduates acquire practical job experience in Canada’s software industry.

It has done exactly that for Lisa Bruce, and for her current employer, Deltaware Systems of Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“It gives you the experience that you wouldn’t get otherwise,” said Bruce, who participated in last year’s internship program and then landed a full time job within Deltaware Systems.

“It’s a great opportunity for companies,” said Alana Gillen, HR Manager for Deltaware Systems. “Anytime [a company] can get a wage subsidy docked from the training costs, it’s a big advantage.”

Software Internships 2000 is based on an eight-month internship and includes a maximum wage subsidy of $6,00 per intern, for qualified small to medium sized companies (up to 200 employees) in the IT industry. A special subsidy of up to $8,00 is available for employers who hire interns with disabilities for 10 month internships.

“The program reflects the fact that despite there being a great shortage of software workers in Canada, increasing demand for their skills and services, it’s still hard for inexperienced recent graduates to land that first job,” said Murray Long, manager of the SHRC Software Internship Program.

He said many jobs require several years of experience, and often companies are reluctant to pay for on-the-job training. “Even though graduates come out of college or university with the latest skill sets and knowledge base, the lack of experience actually applying those skills in the actual job environment makes it hard for employers to feel they are good candidates.”

But because of the SHRC initiative, that situation didn’t apply to Bruce. “For me the internship provided the opportunity to come out of a college training program and get work experience almost right away,” she said. “You have to have experience to get a job, and you have to have a job to get experience.”

Intern program participants are required to have received a degree, diploma or certificate from a post-secondary institution within the past four years and be eligible to work in Canada. Companies participating in the internship program must be Canadian-owned and commit to providing a job opportunity for the intern.

“There is a commitment [the company] must make at the start of the program, that if business circumstances allow for it there will be a full time job at the end of the internship if the intern works out,” Long said.

The 1999 program funded 63 interns in 37 companies across Canada. SHRC funding will allow them to place between 70 and 80 interns.

“We feel that the program not only is of good value for the intern, but a very good value for small companies with less access to capital, (companies) starting to grow and which can use extra bodies and provide a good training environment,” Long said. “Ninety per cent of all the interns, according to last year’s results, landed a full-time job at the end of the internship.”

The program receives funding from Human Resources Development Canada, and interns can start anytime between April 1 to July 31, 2000. Companies interested in accessing this wage subsidy can obtain application forms by contacting internships@shrc.ca.


The SHRC’s guidelines:

To be eligible, interns must meet the following criteria:

Be between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age

Recent graduate (must have obtained degree or diploma within the last four years

Underemployed or unemployed university or college graduate (including private business colleges and the SHRC Information Technology Professional program)

Interested in the software field

Have computer skills matched to the requirements of the internship position, such as a demonstrated ability to install, test and/or troubleshoot software products or hardware devices used in computer systems

To be eligible, employers must meet the following criteria:

Be a Canadian technology-based company with up to 200 employees

Have the financial capacity to fulfill the eight-month internship period

Provide a meaningful work placement that requires an intern with a software background, matched to one of the 24 occupational job streams and definitions in SHRC’s Occupational Skills Profiles Model (OSPM)

Demonstrate a potential for job creation following the internship

Attest that no existing employee has been displaced as a result of participation in this program;

Provide information required by SHRC and HRDC for tracking and evaluation purposes