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Province pays for experience

Brittany Tabachak isn’t sure what she’d be doing if it wasn’t for Ontario’s $5.5-million support of co-op and intern placement programs.
David Carr (Leith Dunick

Brittany Tabachak isn’t sure what she’d be doing if it wasn’t for Ontario’s $5.5-million support of co-op and intern placement programs.

A recent graduate of Lakehead University’s honours bachelor of commerce program, Tabachak secured a one-year internship with the school’s alumni relations department thanks to the program and said while it may not be a permanent position, it’s giving her something all employers are looking for – experience.

"It’s definitely going to be outstanding the benefits that come from this. Coming from the point of view of a young professional, it’s just unbelievable and tremendous," Tabachak said.

She’s not sure if the job would have existed without the provincial assistance, but acknowledged its availability certainly didn’t hurt her cause. At the same time it’s also helping her follow a career path that will best suit her interests.

"This program helps people like me who are going to university and don’t really have the experience yet for something too intense. It kind of helps you get an idea of what area of work you want to be in," she said. "Marketing is such a broad field and this is really helping me choose the different areas that I want to specialize in."

Private-sector employers can get up to $27,500 to pay up to 50 per cent of a full-year intern’s salary; public-sector employers can get the same amount that pays up to 90 per cent of the salary.

In the co-op program, employers can get as much as $6 an hour in wage subsidies.

"It’s a very appealing program to employers in Northern Ontario. And over the course of the past number of years, we’ve had thousands of co-op and intern programs, many of which have led to full-time positions," said Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle.

When asked, however, Gravelle couldn’t provide exact figures of just how many full-time jobs were created as a result of the program.

Still the program, conducted under the auspices of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, has proven itself worthy time and time again, Gravelle said.

And in the modern economy, it’s a necessary one too, he added.

"These are the young people who will be our future community leaders. These are the young people who will be our future business leaders, our future family builders," he said. "They are learning first hand how to do their jobs and are making contacts within their profession to further their future careers."

David Carr, president of Sumac Forest Information Services, said he’s been taking advantage of the program since 2000, and while it hasn’t really created any full-time positions within his company, due to the seasonal nature of the work, it has presented plenty of students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in their future field.

"It’s given us the opportunity to take on more employees than potentially we would have without the program. And it starts to cover off some of the two weeks training that we do with them at the beginning of every season," said Carr, estimating as many as 50 students have found summer employment with his company thanks to the program.

Since 2005 the province has dedicated more than $32 million to internships and co-op placements, creating more than 1,700 combined across the North.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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