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STEP up to hiring high school and post-secondary students this summer

Small businesses may find that they are short of help during the summer months when employees are taking summer vacations. One way of accessing short-term labour for the summer months of May to August is to hire a high school or post-secondary student. 

The Alberta Government is once again offering the STEP wage subsidy program to encourage this kind of hiring. The subsidy amounts to $7 per hour for a maximum of 37.5 hours per week. 

Does your business qualify for STEP?

The program is available to small businesses, non-profit organizations, public libraries, school boards, publicly funded post-secondary institutions, municipalities, First Nations and Metis settlements.
The following employers are not eligible for STEP:

  • federal or provincial governments, including legislative assembly and constituency offices
  • political parties and organizations that are affiliated with a party or group with a political mandate
  • medium (50 to 499 employees) and large (500+ employees) sized businesses
  • franchises and corporately-owned chains
  • publicly funded organizations including but not limited to emergency services (such as police, firefighters, etc.) and health care providers (such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, etc.)
  • provincial or federal Crown agencies, boards, and commissions or corporations
Which students and positions are eligible?

Full-time positions (minimum of 30 hours per week) of any skill level are eligible for the grant, other than apprenticeship trades and occupations.
Students under the STEP program must be:

  • at least 15 years old
  • a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or protected person under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and legally entitled to work and study in Canada
  • residing or attending school in Alberta with an Alberta address
  • returning to high school or a post-secondary institution no later than November 1
  • enrolled in a program that will result in a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree
    • technical training for an Apprenticeship is not eligible
  • available for full-time summer employment
  • participating in only one STEP position during the summer
  • not currently employed in your business
  • are not immediately related to the owners or staff responsible for hiring in the organization

Please note that international students and Temporary Foreign Workers are not eligible for STEP.

How to apply

The application process has been streamlined this year, with applications being accepted online only through the Labour Workforce Grants Portal.


Submit your application before February 8, 2019. Additional information and application forms are available online at

Employers interested in receiving this funding to hire a student for 2019 are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Wage subsidy

The wage subsidy is offered at $7 per hour for a minimum of 30 hours per week (on average) to a maximum of 37.5 hours per week and is paid at the end of a student’s employment, once the employer has submitted a completion form in the required format.  It is important to note that if approved for STEP funding, the employer cannot accept any other federal, provincial or municipal government financial contributions for wage subsidies for the same STEP position, regardless of time period.

How will your application be assessed?

Even if an employer satisfies the eligibility criteria, there is no guarantee that the employer will be approved for the subsidy.  STEP administrators will consider employer types and regions.  If there are more applicants than available funding, applications will be assessed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

All information is on the STEP website, and all submissions are now made online to simplify the process. Now, all you have to do is go out and find a great, eager young student to work for you this summer!