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Finding funds: Government funding that supports HR and training


February 12, 2014
By Ryan Weaver

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The success that Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) experience in today’s knowledge-based economy is largely determined by how well they can predict and adapt to change. This continually evolving environment in which businesses exist has seen R&D and training become increasingly vital to business success. After all, organizations improve through learning.

In the past, businesses initiated the learning process by enrolling their employees in company training courses. Now, with the breakneck speed of innovation, learning is initiated through the act of solving problems, which often calls for introducing a new engineering process or technology, or the development of a new product or service.

HR and training complements R&D

The known link between innovation, R&D and training isn’t new. As far back as 1995, Statistics Canada released a report providing strong evidence of how the incidence of training was closely related to the importance a firm gave research and development, the use of technologies, and other strategies all closely related to innovation.

To support Canadian SMEs that are looking to get a step up on competitors and contribute to our nation’s economic growth, provincial and federal governments have set aside funding and resources to ensure SMEs have qualified workers with the requisite skills and capabilities to support ongoing and future business plans. This funding for human resources and training programs can help organizations hire or retrain staff, improve their marketing effectiveness and train their staff in areas such as new technology or operational processes.

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Small business grants for organizational learning and development

What should be understood about the government’s support of learning and development initiatives taken on by Canadian SMEs is that available funding focuses on training required to adapt to the implementation of new and improved technologies and processes. Thus, it should come as no surprise that new employee orientation and other soft skill development programs are not covered by provincial or federal business grants programs. Accordingly, many of the manufacturing firms that our business has helped in developing strategic funding plans for have tapped into government funding for human resources and training programs like Yves Landry, while simultaneously receiving small business grants through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). As a general rule, if your business has qualified for SR&ED (R&D tax deductions), then your firm will likely also qualify for IRAP funding to assist with projects that aim to tackle a technical challenge. And because solving technical challenges usually means the adoption of new technology and processes, the training required of your employees to adapt to these changes will qualify for small business grants of up to $50,000 through the Yves Landry Global and Northern AIME Initiative.

Government grants for small business hiring of recent graduates and experienced export managers

While the Yves Landry AIME Initiative is not currently offering funding to active training projects, manufacturers can benefit from several other opportunities in the form of government grants for small business hiring.   

Some of the most popular programs over the past few years have included Canadian business grants for hiring recent graduates, such as various streams of Career Focus funding programs, Graduate Enterprise Internships (also referred to as iSTEM), ICTC CareerConnect and Mitacs. Manufacturers across Canada have leveraged these programs to receive anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000, or 50 per cent of an employee’s wage. Generally, these programs require participating employees to be under 31 years old and a recent graduate of a Canadian post-secondary institution, and a permanent Canadian resident, citizen or refugee.    

The Ontario Exporter’s Fund (OEF) is one Ontario government funding program for hiring that offers an opportunity to receive up to 50 per cent or $40,000 per year for two years ($80,000 maximum) for hiring an experienced export manager or international business development manager. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) administers OEF funding with the support of the Ontario government. Eligibility requirements for this funding program include having the company be incorporated in Canada for at least two years, have five to 500 employees, and between $1 million and $20 million in revenue, of which 10 to 50 per cent comes from export sales. This is an excellent chance for Ontario businesses that are looking to enhance their international presence, and many firms have simultaneously accessed government funding of up to $30,000 to attend foreign tradeshows.  

Receive strategic support through Canadian government grants and loans

Canadian government funding has been positioned to help Canadian SMEs strengthen and grow their operations to compete globally, while at the same time creating jobs and developing the economies of local communities. Funding programs are numerous and accessible to most incorporated businesses with more than 15 employees that conduct research and development and/or manufacture in Canada. Nonetheless, it’s astounding at the number of firms that don’t take advantage of government subsidies that have been set aside to reward them for playing a continual role in growing the Canadian economy. What is more, Canadian government funding programs are project specific, and businesses that regularly tap into government funding often say the process has had a positive effect on their business’ attention to their short- and long-term growth strategy.

In the next issue, I will highlight government funding opportunities available to Canadian manufacturers to increase their energy efficiency.

 

Ryan Weaver is a marketing analyst at Mentor Works, a company that helps organizations secure Canadian government funding to support their strategic initiatives. Weaver has a B.A. in economics, a M.Sc. in management, and several published works, including two books.