Canada’s Biosciences Talent Pool at Risk Without Sustainable Student Internship

OTTAWA, September 21, 2023 – BioTalent Canada has issued a new report detailing the success of its national Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and its positive impact on the severe Labour Market Shortages affecting Canada’s Bioscience industry.

This comprehensive report, titled “Biosciences Booster: Student Work Placement Program propelling Canada’s bio-economy forward,” highlights the remarkable success that has been achieved since the bioscience and healthcare SWPP program began in 2017. Notable achievements include:

  • More than 11,000 placements across Canada.
  • Participation from over 2,000 bioscience and healthcare companies.
  • Placements in every province and two territories.
  • Labour mobility (the ability of labourers to move freely with an economy) of 8%.
  • A program satisfaction rate of 97% among biotech and healthcare company participants.
  • Students from underrepresented groups represented 77% of participants.

“Our health and bioscience sectors continue to be a key driver of employment and economic growth across Canada, thanks largely to the Student Work Placement Program,” says Rob Henderson, President and CEO of BioTalent Canada. “

Many of the goals and priorities set by the Government of Canada, which partially funds the program, such as addressing future pandemics and combatting climate change and food insecurity will be achieved through the biotech sector and its talent of tomorrow who got their start through this program.”

The program enables organizations in the biotech sector to hire student interns and co-op placements. At the end of the placement, participating organizations have a skilled recruit now familiar with the company and a potential new team member. SWPP proved essential during the COVID-19 pandemic when Canada’s healthcare sector was under enormous strain.

A full 70% of participating biosciences organizations state with probability the subsidized placements would not have been created without the support provided through SWPP.

One such participant, Paramita Chaudhuri Basu, states they would not have a successful career in Canada’s biotech industry today had they not gained valuable work experience through SWPP. “The Student Work Placement Program exceeded my expectations,” says Chaudhuri Basu. “It’s the only program I came across that considered my STEM background, status as a woman, and interest in business… I would encourage others to apply.” Today, Chaudhuri Basu has her MBA and Ph.D and is employed as Director of Programs & Ecosystem Development at Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation, a national not-for-profit bridging the gap between academia and industry based in Edmonton.

While BioTalent Canada has accomplished much through SWPP, there is an urgent requirement to provide even more support to industry as there is a need to fill 65,000 biotechnology jobs across the country by 2029.

“Canada’s biotech industry plays a lead role in the national economy, particularly when it comes to advances in healthcare,” says Henderson. “What’s needed now is to build on the success that’s been achieved through this important wage subsidy program.”

The report indicates what is needed now is for the Government of Canada to make the Student Work Placement Program permanent. The report recommends that funding for SWPP be provided on an ongoing and renewable basis. Any gap in funding puts the future of the Student Work Placement Program in jeopardy, a situation that could hurt youth employment, innovation, and the health of Canadians and the Canadian economy.

The continued success of SWPP will enable BioTalent Canada to continue building bridges between academia and business, facilitating important connections and conversations among stakeholders across the country.

To learn more about the report, visit Rob Henderson is available for comment.

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Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program.

About BioTalent Canada:

BioTalent Canada supports the people behind life-changing science. Trusted as the go-to source for labour market intelligence, BioTalent Canada guides bio-economy stakeholders with evidence-based data and industry-driven standards. BioTalent Canada is focused on igniting the industry’s brainpower, bridging the gap between job-ready talent and employers, and ensuring the long-term agility, resiliency, and sustainability of one of Canada’s most vital sectors.

Recently named a Great Place to Work® and Best Workplaces in Healthcare for 2023, by Great Place to Work Canada, as well as being listed as a Best Workplace by HRD Canada for 2023, BioTalent Canada practices the same industry standards it recommends to stakeholders. These distinctions were awarded to BioTalent Canada following a thorough and independent survey analysis conducted by Great Place to Work®.

About Student Work Placement Program (SWPP):

The Student Work Placement Program provides wage subsidies to cover the cost of a salary by 50% up to a maximum of $5,000 and 70% up to a maximum of $7,000 for first-year students and under-represented groups that include women in STEM, indigenous students, persons with disabilities, members of a visible minority, and newcomers to Canada. More than 350 post-secondary institutions across Canada have had students go through SWPP since its 2017 launch.

Media Inquiries:
Siobhan Williams
Vice-President Marketing and Communications
BioTalent Canada
613-235-1402 ext. 229
[email protected]