Internships are a great way for workers to break into the workforce and get that all-important job experience. And for an employer, there can be obvious benefits to hiring someone on a short-term basis. However, there has been much in the press in recent years over the ethical question as to whether you should pay an intern. Add in confusion around whether they fall under employment standards and worker’s compensation, and it’s understandable that some employers would rather just not bother.
So why hire an intern?
Interns can be a great choice when you have a short-term project as an alternative to bringing in a contract employee. An intern expects that their tenure will be short since often they will be returning to their studies once the internship is finished. An intern can bring a great new perspective, along with knowledge of emerging technologies/ideas that maybe some current employees have not had the time to explore.
Interns are eager to learn. They have a ton of knowledge and now want to apply that in a professional setting. Plus, they are looking for long-term work; that means they will always bring their A-game, whether it’s in hopes of securing a permanent position with your company or receiving a glowing reference to share with prospective employers.
What to remember
Unless your province or territory specifically exempts interns from being paid, then they are considered employees under Employments Standards legislation and will be subject to the minimum wage regulations. One exception may be interns who are working as part of a university or college course requirement, but it is best to check with your provincial or territorial employment standards.
An intern is going to bring with them a lot of knowledge, but likely very little experience of the working world. Be cognizant of the fact they may need some training in how to conduct themselves in a professional environment.
The best part: funding!
There are several programs that offer funding to companies willing to hire an intern. Please note that the entry criteria and application periods vary from program to program, and often funding must be secured before the intern is hired.
- Mitacs Accelerate – for expanding Research & Development potential
- Student Work Placement program – paid work experience to students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and business programs
- Industrial Research Assistance Program – funding for internships to work on business, technical or technology-related projects with environmental benefits.
- Natural Resources Internships – salary contribution when you hire an intern in a green full-time job within a natural resource sector.
- Housing Internship Initiative for First Nation and Inuit Youth – financial assistance to help First Nations and Inuit businesses and organizations create housing-related internships for youth.
- ECO Canada Internship – subsidy for hiring an intern for an environmental job
- Clean Tech Internships –Salary contributions for an intern in a full-time position related to the use or development of clean tech.
These internship programs are available across the country. Please contact your provincial/territorial government, or your CFIB Business Counsellor, for programs specific to your jurisdiction.