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New grads launch biotech careers

Thursday November 19, 2015 Written by  Retain Canada
BioTalent Canada’s Career Focus wage subsidy program has successfully placed 165 new graduates at biotechnology companies across Canada so far this year.

BioTalent Canada has managed the federally-funded Career Focus wage subsidy program since 2005. This year’s 165 placements mark the organization's greatest success and highest number of placements in a single year.

Thanks to funding from the federal Youth Employment Strategy Program, BioTalent Canada announced this spring that it would launch both a National and an Ontario-specific Career Focus program. With the Canadian biotech industry experiencing a shortage of skilled labour and employers often lacking the necessary resources to onboard talent in the form of new graduates, BioTalent Canada's 2015-2016 Career Focus programs have been a much-needed form of support for smaller biotechnology companies struggling to compete.

"For many new graduates, landing a job without work experience is a challenge," said Rob Henderson, president and CEO of BioTalent Canada. "Without that first job, that critical experience is either delayed or never comes. Wage subsidy programs like Career Focus are critical not just for the growth and development of Canada's bio-economy, but for youth employment as well.”

The Career Focus wage subsidy program gives Canadian biotechnology companies up to $20,000 in federal subsidies to help offset the cost of onboarding new graduates that are seeking entrance into the industry. It offers employers the ability to hire new talent with fresh ideas and innovative ways of thinking – an employee they might not otherwise have been able to afford to orient and train.

"I see the Career Focus Program as a great example where government and business objectives align perfectly,” said Jeff Crews, president of Entertech Systems. The biometrics firm accessed the 2015 program and engaged new graduate employees as a result. "The wage subsidies have allowed us to make a greater investment in hiring young, talented individuals at a pace we would not have been able to do on our own. Furthermore, the team is thrilled to have keen new grads onboard who are excited to take on new challenges.”  

Jessica Gagner, a participant in the Career Focus program who became marketing manager at Entertech Systems said, "I became familiar with Entertech Systems through a personal connection, and quickly became interested in joining this innovative, high-growth biometrics company. Thankfully, Entertech Systems discovered the Career Focus subsidy program this year, which was instrumental in the company hiring me this past June. I am now a part of a fantastic organization that has had an unparalleled impact on my professional development and career growth.”

After successfully placing hundreds of new graduates in their first career position in Canada's bio-economy, earlier this year BioTalent Canada published a special Labour Market Study called “Opening the Door” as a new source of national data on many aspects of the employment experiences of new graduates. Data included the average age, education and salary levels of participants.

In the past three years, BioTalent Canada has placed 385 new grads in the sector and has disbursed approximately $4.2 million in wage subsidies.  Furthermore, with the addition of this year's provincial program, Ontario biotech businesses were pleased to hire an additional 35 new graduates eager to make their mark.

After a successful run, BioTalent Canada noted that the Career Focus programs will soon begin winding down.

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