Fabian Mayer

Reinstated STEP program begins accepting applications

By Fabian Mayer, January 28 2016 —

The student summer job search is already underway and will likely be especially competitive given the province’s uncertain economic climate. However, there is some positive news for students, as the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) started accepting applications from employers on Jan. 25.

Small businesses and non-profits can apply to receive a $7 per hour wage subsidy from the province to help with the costs of hiring students over the summer. The program will cost taxpayers $10 million and is expected to support approximately 3,000 summer jobs.

Minister of advanced education, jobs, skills, training and labour Lori Sigurdson said she is excited about the program.

“It makes it affordable for them in this challenging economic time,” Sigurdson said.

The STEP program was one casualty of wide-reaching provincial spending cuts under Alison Redford’s PC government in 2013.

“We heard from municipalities, from non-profit [organizations], how disappointed they were when the STEP program was cut,” Sigurdson said.

University of Calgary Students’ Union vice-president external Romy Garrido said the SU pushed for the program’s return since it was taken out. She believes it is especially important that the program returns this year.

“When it comes to the economic downturn, young people tend to get the short end of the stick,” Garrido said.

However, Garrido has some concerns about who is eligible for the program.  Students above the age of 15 who will be returning to high school or post-secondary in the fall are eligible, while recent graduates are not.

“That does make the pool of potential students looking for jobs a lot smaller, but at the same time it’s better than nothing,” Garrido said. “Hopefully they can refine it to suit students’ needs more and more in the future.”

Employers can apply for the program until Feb. 29.

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