Increased funding should allow the Software Human Resources Council to provide more interns to growing companies in need of programming help.

The Ottawa-based industry association has begun accepting applications for subsidies

that will contribute to the equivalent of one third of the intern’s salary over an eight-month period. The group gets its funding for the program through Human Resources Development Canada.

Janet Detillieux, the SHRC’s internship program manager, said it would be paying up to $8,000 per intern, up from about $6,000 last year. The SHRC has been offering the internships for the last five years.

“”Last year it was a bit difficult,”” she said. “”We had to extend the application period because companies were suffering. It’s not that they didn’t want the money, they just weren’t hiring.””

This year’s application period, which ends Sept. 30, looks better, Detillieux said. Companies have been calling daily looking for more information. Though the companies getting the subsidies are small — the limit is 200 people — she said they offer a useful opportunity for IT professionals entering the field to get a foothold.

“”Some are hiring right out of college and university,”” she said. “”We’re seeing some that have come out with a bachelor’s degree but not necessarily in the IT field and have gone back and taken a course at a private institute to update their skills.””

Many companies that make use of the internship program end up hiring the candidates full-time and end up using the program again. Corporate Mentoring Solutions Inc., for example, has hired two interns over the last two years through the SHRC.

William Gray, Corporate Mentoring’s president, said the programmers have helped his firm turn its leadership and career development programs into online products that are used by a range of banking, manufacturing and transportation firms. Gray said the interns work closely with senior management to make sure the products are friendly and intuitive for its customers.

“”It’s a real good situation for a young person to be in because they’re not strictly coding,”” said Gray, who said he plans to apply for a subsidy again this year. “”They really learn how a small business works, how it grows, how you have to be customer oriented.””

Detillieux said Gray is not alone in putting interns in situations that broaden their horizons. “”A lot of small companies require quite a number of skills, not just somebody that’s taken a fast track computer course,”” she said. “”They’ve got to be able to deal with the clients and have some other business skills. They handle a lot more in some of the companies.””

Interns must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and graduates of a software-oriented program from an accredited post-secondary institution within the last four years. They must be currently unemployed or underemployed (without a job in their field, for example). Last year the SHRC placed 69 students in 45 companies across Canada, but this year Detillieux estimated it would place about 100 interns.


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