Horizontal Evaluation of Student Employment Programs

October 2014

Abbreviations

CO-OP
Co-operative Education and Internship Program
EAO
Exclusion Approval Order
FSWEP
Federal Student Work Experience Program
HR
Human resources
NAoS
National area of selection
NCR
National Capital Region
OCHRO
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
PSC
Public Service Commission
PSEA
Public Service Employment Act
PSRS
Public Service Resourcing System
RAP
Research Affiliate Program
SASB
Staffing and Assessment Services Branch
Secretariat
Treasury Board Secretariat
SEP
Student employment programs
TB
Treasury Board

Executive Summary

This report presents the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Treasury Boards Secretariat’s (Secretariat) horizontal evaluation of student employment programs (SEP). There are three programs under the SEP umbrella: The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), the Co-operative Education and Internship Program (CO-OP) and the Research Affiliate Program (RAP).

The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the relevance and continued need for SEP in the federal government and to provide an assessment of the performance of the program in meeting its expected outcomes.

The Executive Management Committee of the PSC and the Departmental Evaluation Committee of the Secretariat approved this evaluation as part of their organization’s Five-Year Evaluation Plan. The evaluation was conducted from July 2013 to March 2014.

The Secretariat and the PSC share legislative responsibilities and interdependencies in delivering SEP. SEP are governed by the Treasury Board (TB) Student Employment Policy. The PSC statutory instruments, namely the Student Employment Programs Participants Exclusion Approval Order and the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations, provide for student appointment into these programs. As such, the evaluation was conducted as a joint effort between the PSC and the Secretariat evaluation teams.

Why is this important?

The federal government conducts between 9 000 – 15 000 student hires each year for short-term temporary assignments in the public service. The objectives of the Student Employment Policy are to provide employment opportunities for Canadian students that will enrich their academic programs, help fund their education, develop their employability skills and encourage their participation in future public service employment opportunities.

In addition to meeting short-term student objectives, these programs are part of the longer-term strategy for hiring the next generation of public servants and meeting public service renewal needs. After the completion of their educational program, SEP participants can be appointed to federal public service positions, on a temporary or permanent basis, through a formal bridging mechanism, which is a staffing option that facilitates the integration of students into public service positions for which they meet the merit criteria and conditions of employment. SEP are therefore an important mechanism for students to access public service jobs and for hiring managers to recruit future public servants.

Main findings

  • SEP are relevant to students, hiring managers and the public service. The continued need for the programs is expressed in key government documents. Trends in student hiring show that federal government organizations and students continue to make use of the programs, even when overall public service hiring has decreased;
  • SEP are aligned with federal government priorities and the strategic outcomes of both the PSC and the Secretariat. The need for the programs is aligned with several key government-wide priorities, including Canada’s Economic Action Plan, Blueprint 2020 and the Youth Employment Strategy;
  • There are opportunities to clarify roles and responsibilities between the PSC and the Secretariat. The role of both organizations is not clearly defined and communicated to stakeholders;
  • SEP are meeting the needs of hiring managers who require a fast and flexible process to hire qualified students for short-term assignments. Hiring managers are generally satisfied with the processes and the quality of students. There are opportunities to improve certain operational delivery aspects of the programs that would further enhance the performance of hiring processes;
  • SEP are meeting the needs of students who want opportunities to enrich their academic experience, develop employability skills and gain insight into opportunities for future employment. Students are generally satisfied with the hiring processes but feel that communication and awareness of the programs’ elements could be improved;
  • CO-OP jobs could be more widely advertised to increase access for Canadian students. Increasing access to student jobs increases access to future public service jobs as between 23-28% of former SEP participants are integrated into the public service; and,
  • There are opportunities to further improve the performance of the programs. The evaluation identified several options such as the use of self-screen testing and advanced skills matching.

Recommendations

The evaluation makes a number of recommendations, based on the above findings, to improve understanding of roles and responsibilities, strengthen operations and improve awareness, communication and access.

Recommendation 1:

The Secretariat and the PSC should determine and clearly document the roles and responsibilities for each organization and communicate them to stakeholders.

Recommendation 2:

The PSC should review options to improve the speed, flexibility and effectiveness of the hiring processes, in order to better meet the needs of hiring managers, through a review of the FSWEP referral and matching processes, the use of the CO-OP database and the RAP hiring requirements, within the requirements of the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations.

Recommendation 3:

The Secretariat and the PSC should review and update their Web sites and other communication tools in order to improve student awareness and understanding of the objectives, use and mechanisms of the SEP.

Recommendation 4:

The PSC should review CO-OP access and determine whether additional guidance or monitoring will be required to ensure that hiring organizations are respecting the national area of selection requirements.

1. Background

Student employment programs (SEP) are designed to provide employment opportunities for Canadian students that will enrich their academic programs, help fund their education, develop their employability skills and encourage their participation in future public service employment opportunitiesFootnote1. SEP are governed by the Treasury Board (TB) Student Employment Policy. The Public Service Commission (PSC) statutory instruments, namely the Student Employment Programs Participants Exclusion Approval Order (EAO) and the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations, provide for student appointment into these programs. For more information on the regulatory and policy framework and its history, refer to Appendix A.

There are three programs under the SEP umbrella: The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) and the CO-OPerative Education and Internship Program (CO-OP). All three programs were introduced by the PSC prior to the coming into force of the first TB Student Employment Policy in 1997. Participants to all three programs can, upon completion of their educational program, be integrated into temporary or permanent positions in the federal public service for which they meet the merit criteria and conditions of employment. Below is a brief description of each program and their eligibility criteria.

Federal Student Work Employment Program

FSWEP is a general intake program through which federal organizations recruit and hire thousands of students for temporary jobs every year in federal organizations across Canada. Although students are not required to have previous work experience to apply, they must meet the program’s eligibility criteria. Jobs are available on a part-time basis throughout the academic semester and full-time during the non-academic one. FSWEP students can be placed up to three times per fiscal year with each school term.

Secondary and post-secondary students seeking jobs with the federal public service can apply to the FSWEP national e-recruitment inventory that is designed to search for and randomly select students for referral who meet the job requirements identified by the hiring organization (e.g., year/level of education, skills, work location, language). The random selection approach is meant to ensure a fair and equitable way of identifying potential candidates. Each FSWEP campaign is open from October of one year to October of the following year.

Co-operative Education and Internship Program

CO-OP is a joint effort between hiring organizations and academic institutions. CO-OP education alternates classroom instruction with work placements in the student’s field of study. The internship component offers supervised, on-the-job training assignments designed to give students the required skills and knowledge for entering a trade or profession. It provides students with the relevant and practical work experience they need to fulfill the requirements of their academic program, while helping hiring managers meet their work commitments.

Since 1997, federal organizations have been liaising directly with the academic institutions that have PSC-approved programs to post their placement opportunities. Federal organizations choose any school that has a PSC-approved program and current guidance suggests that they should consider students from different institutions in order to yield a reasonable pool of qualified candidates. Students consult the notice boards at their campus career centers or CO-OP/Internship placement offices for jobs.

Research Affiliate Program

The RAP is designed to provide work opportunities for post-secondary students whose academic program requires supervised laboratory or field analysis in applied research (design, execution, evaluation) in order to graduate. The RAP program was created to meet the needs of the scientific organizations in the federal public service that were having difficulty attracting students to research projects.

The research projects must be related to the student's current degree program and must help the student develop specific knowledge and research skills. Additionally, these project-based work assignments vary in length from several weeks to several months, during the academic and non-academic semesters, either on a part-time or full-time basis. In recent years, the program has extended beyond the natural, pure and applied sciences to include policy research.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for assignment under one of the SEP, a candidate must meet the following eligibility criteria (as outlined in Appendix A of the Student Employment Policy):

  • Be registered as a full-time secondary or post-secondary student in an accredited institution;
  • Be currently recognized as having full-time status by the academic institution; and,
  • Be returning to full-time studies in the next academic term.

Only students who are enrolled in programs in educational institutions that are recognized by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials are eligible for the programs. FSWEP students who are in their final year of academic study, with a full time status, and who are not intending to return to full-time studies are eligible to work part-time up until the time they graduate. CO-OP and RAP students in the same situation can work full-time until they graduate in order to fulfill the requirements of their diploma.

Student employment programs stakeholders

The following is a list of the key SEP stakeholders:

  • Federal departments and agencies (includes hiring managers and HR advisors);
  • Students;
  • Academic institutions;
  • Public Service Commission (PSC); and,
  • Treasury Board Secretariat (The Secretariat).

Student employment programs roles and responsibilities

The Treasury Board (TB) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) share responsibility for student hiring and employment in the federal public service. TB, as the employer, holds the policy authority for establishing the terms and conditions of student employment, and the PSC, within its PSEA authority, establishes the regulatory and policy framework to provide for appointment of students. The PSC is also the organization responsible for the administration of the SEP programs.

Treasury Board - The employer

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) represents TB as the employer in HR management issues and provides strategic leadership on HR management. OCHRO is also responsible for TB policy instruments governing student employment in the core public administration, including the Student Employment Policy, the Terms and Conditions of Employment for Students and student rates of pay.

Public Service Commission - Regulatory, policy and oversight role

The Public Service Commission is headed by a President (deputy head) and two other Commissioners. The principle mandate of the PSC is to promote and safeguard merit-based appointments and, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to protect the non-partisan nature of the Public Service. The PSC reports on its mandate to Parliament. Under the delegated staffing system set out in the Public Service Employment Act, the PSC fulfills its mandate by providing policy guidance and expertise, as well as by conducting effective oversight.

With respect to student programs, the PSC has the responsibility for the two statutory instruments that provide for student appointment into SEP, namely the Student Employment Programs Participants Exclusion Approval Order (EAO) and the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations. Additionally, the PSC establishes and manages the Appointments Policies, such as the Area of Selection Policy which requires the use of a national area of selection for student hiring activities to full time jobs.

Public Service Commission - Program administration role

The PSC administers the SEP through its Staffing and Assessment Services Branch (SASB) and has a role to play in all three programs.

Federal Student Work Experience Program

SASB’s administers the e-recruitment inventory and act as a broker by referring eligible students to hiring managers. The hiring manager is responsible for the assessment of each referred candidate and all subsequent staffing actions such as preparing the letter of offer, conducting the security clearance and determining the rates of pay.

Co-operative Education and Internship Program

SASB’s approves CO-OP, internship and apprenticeship programs from which federal organizations may recruit and hire students. Since 2005, the PSC has published a list of the PSC-approved programs on the www.jobs-emplois.gc.ca and the www.psc-cfp.gc.ca Web sites by way of a WebLogic database that is stand-alone and not part of PSC’s Public Service Resourcing System (PSRS).

Research Affiliate Program

SASB’s run’s advertisements through the PSRS job advertisement mechanism.

Student employment programs resources

The PSC budget for the administration of SEP consists of salary and non-salary expenses and is funded by parliamentary appropriation. The SEP team at headquarters provides functional direction and is responsible for handling FSWEP referrals and posting RAP advertisements for organizations in the National Capital Region (NCR). Requests from organizations outside the NCR are handled by PSC regional offices. The PSRS system is the Government of Canada's on-line system for posting external employment opportunities. It is used for delivering the FSWEP program, posting RAP advertisements and sending student referrals to clients. The PSRS annual operating and maintenance budget is $6.8 million. Running FSWEP and RAP through PSRS does not add to the cost of running the system.

Table 1: SEP expenditures (includes PSC expenses only)
2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
Salary Non-Salary Total Salary Non-Salary Total Salary Non-Salary Total
$460,186 $10,968 $471,154 $507,644 $8,087 $515,731 $560,832 $2,705 $563,537

Source: SEP

2. Evaluation design and methodology

Authority

This report presents the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the TB Secretariat’s horizontal evaluation of student employment programs (SEP). The Executive Management Committee of the PSC and the Departmental Evaluation Committee of the Secretariat approved this evaluation as part of their organization’s Evaluation Plan. The evaluation was conducted from July 2013 to March 2014. Given that the Secretariat and the PSC share legislative responsibilities and interdependencies in delivering SEP, the evaluation was conducted as a joint effort. This is the first evaluation of SEP

Evaluation objectives and scope

The evaluation examined the relevance and performance of the administration of SEP. The evaluation took a forward-looking approach to assess the extent to which program elements could be updated or redesigned to better meet the future needs of the public service. A thorough planning and consultation process at the evaluation framework stage aligned the evaluation to examine in detail the operations of the three programs as well as their use. Risks were identified by senior management during the planning process. The evaluation team was asked to evaluate the degree to which access is upheld in the delivery of the programs. The scope of the information collected ranges primarily from data files and other information collected between 2010 and 2013.

Evaluation logic model and lines of inquiry

The SEP logic model depicts all of the program and policy sector roles associated with SEP. The key logic model outcomes addressed in the evaluation were identified by the evaluation advisory and steering committees. The evaluation design and methods were calibrated to ensure that only the most relevant program/policy outcomes were measured, based on information and decision-making needs. The evaluation addressed the five core evaluation issues outlined in the TB Directive on the Evaluation Function. Appendix B of this report contains the SEP logic model.

The evaluation examined the following lines of enquiry related to SEP as part of an assessment of the core issues of relevance and performance.

Assessment area  
Relevance
  • Addressing a continuing need
  • Aligning with government priorities and PSC/Secretariat strategic outcomes
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
Performance
  • User-friendliness/design of the programs
  • Meeting the needs of hiring managers and students
  • Ensuring student access to the programs
  • Efficiency and economy of the programs

Evaluation methodology and limitations

The evaluation used a mixed-method, non-experimental design, incorporating multiple lines of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to address the evaluation issues and questions. The following methods were used to assess the evaluation issues and questions: Literature review conducted by the Policy Research Division of the PSC, document review, review of PSC system data, 31 stakeholder interviews, five on-line surveys and a discussion with the Deputy Minister Public Service Commission Advisory Committee.

The following are limitations of the evaluation:

  1. Consultations were limited to stakeholders familiar with the programs;
  2. Unlike the FSWEP and RAP hiring manager surveys, there was no sampling frame for human resources advisors and CO-OP hiring managers;
  3. RAP is the smallest SEP with the lowest number of users. The response rate was acceptable but sample size did not lend itself to all statistical analyses; and
  4. The evaluation's planned forward-looking approach was limited due to insufficient secondary data available on public service shortage groups and future hiring and business needs. 

Further details on the methodology and limitations can be found in Appendix C.

3. Findings

3.1 Relevance: Continued need for the programs

Assessment of the extent to which student employment programs continue to address a demonstrable need and are responsive to the needs of Canadians.

Student employment programs (SEP) address the short-term needs of students and hiring managers and long-term generic public service renewal needs.

We examined the need for the programs through a review of government-wide strategic plans. We examined whether trends showed that there was a recurrent and consistent use of the programs by both students and hiring managers. Lastly, we reviewed human resources (HR) plans to determine if student recruitment is outlined in organizational HR strategies.

The need for SEP should be demonstrated in the governments’ strategic plans so that the programs are consistent with the government’s long-term objectives. Consistent and recurrent use of the programs demonstrates that the programs are relevant to students and hiring managers’ needs. Recruitment strategies outline the short and long-term hiring plans of organizations.

Need for student employment programs is expressed in key government documents

In the Nineteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council expressed that recruitment will need to be “targeted in order to fill key skills gaps and carried out with a view to the broader, longer-term needs” of the public service. He adds that “we must also continue to develop the competencies needed for an evolving public service” and that in the future, public service institutions will need to be “collaborative, innovative, streamlined, high performing, adaptable and diverse.” Lastly, he wrote that it will be increasingly important to achieve excellence in core functions. This will mean understanding what the requirements will be in the future and aligning organizations to meet these needs.Footnote2.The Government of Canada’s 2014 Economic Action Plan echoes this by aiming at “[creating] an environment for Canadians to succeed by strengthening policies that align skills training and development with labour market needs.”

The programs provide a unique opportunity for hiring managers and students to work together in a way that is mutually beneficial; students obtain work experience and managers have the opportunity to benefit from new talent entering their work units and can assess whether the students they hire meet the longer-term needs of their organization and could be considered for appointment or bridged into a position once they graduate. Bridging is a mechanism that hiring managers can use to integrate former SEP students, upon completion of their studies into a term or indeterminate position in the federal public service.

Trends show that students and organizations continue to make use of the program

In recent years, SEP hiring activities have decreased, but at rates lower than the overall decline in public service hiring. The figure below demonstrates that in the last six years, public service hiring has decreased by approximately 49% while SEP hiring decreased by 30%. In the peak period of Workforce Adjustment (WFA) from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013, the proportion of student hiring to overall public service hiring has remained stable at slightly over 30%.

We note that in the years leading up to the WFA period (2007-2011), the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) saw a 16% increase in hiring activities and the Co-operative and Internship Program (CO-OP) saw a 28% increase in hiring activities. These trends in usage demonstrate that student hiring remains a staffing option needed by departments and agencies and highly relevant in the context of their human resources (HR) recruitment activity.

Additionally, of the 9 561 student hires that took place in 2012-2013, 4 642 were new student hires. This shows that hiring organizations are taking opportunities to re-hire students.

Figure 1 shows student hiring activities broken down by each SEP, compared to other hiring activities under the Public Service employment Act (PSEA) (i.e., casual, specified term and intermediate staffing), over the last six years.

Figure 1: Public service staffing activities broken down by SEP, compared with other non-student hiring – 2007-2013

figure 1: Public service staffing activities broken down by SEP, compared with other non-student hiring – 2007-2013

[Text version]

Source: Public Service Commission hiring and staffing activities files
Note: Due to a change in methodology used to estimate the number of hires through RAP, 2012-2013 data are not comparable to previous years.

Hiring organizations have identified student hiring in their recruitment strategies

An analysis of pre-WFAFootnote3 HR plans from 49 organizations identified 31 organizations that targeted students in their recruitment strategy. For many of those organizations, students are a key part of their workforce and are hired to meet short-term business needs. Of the same 31 organizations that targeted students as part of their renewal strategy, 18 of them clearly indicated plans to bridge students into their organizations in order to meet their medium and long-term organizational needs.

3.2 Relevance: Alignment with government priorities

Assessment of the alignment between student employment programs objectives and the federal government human resource priorities and outcomes.

SEP are aligned with federal government priorities and PSC and Secretariat strategic outcomes.

We examined whether student hiring was part of the HR priorities of the federal government. We also examined whether there was alignment between the SEP objectives and the strategic outcomes of the Secretariat and the PSC.

Alignment between SEP and federal government HR priorities demonstrate that programs are furthering the Government of Canada’s HR objectives. Secretariat and PSC outcomes demonstrate that the program is relevant to supporting the mandate and objectives of both organizations.

Student employment programs support stated federal government human resource priorities

SEP encourage organizations to hire students in order to develop a pool of qualified candidates for future public service appointments. They provide employment opportunities for students to enrich their academic programs, help fund their education, develop their employability skills and offer insights into future employment opportunities to help them evaluate their career options within the public service. As an entry point into the federal public service, SEP provide students with work experience that can be linked to their field of study and skills sets.

The government recognizes the importance of student employment in the federal public service, as witnessed by the following:

Privy Council priorities

  • In the report Blueprint 2020: Building Tomorrow’s Public Service Together, the Clerk of the Privy Council set out a vision to guide public servants on how to work together to improve services to Canadians and advance Canada’s social and economic interests. He notes that “a professional, well-trained and well-managed public service provides a competitive advantage for Canada”. The clerk also stated that the public service must hire “the best and brightest people with the skills needed to develop evidence-based options and advice for the Government and to provide effective support to Canadians in times of change.”

Government budget funding

  • As part of Canada’s 2009 Economic Action Plan, the government committed to providing funding of $20 million to enhance student employment in the federal public service; $10 million was allocated in 2009-2010 and $10 million in 2010-2011.

Parliamentary committees

  • In 2012, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities recognized that “workplace training is part of the solution to skills and labour shortages, as well as the development of those foundational skills [such as critical thinking, the ability to communicate and business skills] needed for youth to transition to the workforce.”Footnote4 To this end, the Committee recommended that the Government of Canada continue to support projects that aim to improve these necessary skills and explore ways of improving that support, including by increasing opportunities for students to gain experience by reviewing its support for CO-OP students.

Horizontal initiatives

  • In 2014, the Government of Canada highlighted its commitment to helping Canadian youth find meaningful employment through the Youth Employment StrategyFootnote5 by helping young people, particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.

Student employment programs are aligned with Secretariat and Public Service Commission strategic outcomes

SEP were designed to effectively appoint students to the public service in order to meet the needs of hiring organizations, while maintaining the integrity of the staffing system.

The Secretariat’s 2014-2015 Report on Plans and Priorities outlined the Secretariat’s People Management program objectives, which are to “lead people management and promote leadership excellence, to support human resources infrastructure and to ensure the appropriate degree of consistency in people management across the public service.” Through the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Secretariat leads people management across the core public administration by developing workplace and workforce policies and programs and supporting organizations in improving their integrated HR planning.

The PSC’s 2014-2015 Report on Plans and Priorities identified providing “Canadians with a highly competent, non-partisan and representative public service, able to provide service in both official languages, in which appointments are based on merit and the values of fairness, access, transparency and representativeness” as a strategic outcome. In addition, the PSC is mandated to “promote and safeguard merit-based appointments and, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to protect the non-partisan nature of the public service” and delivers “staffing services, programs and products to departments and agencies, to Canadians and public servants, through client service units located across Canada.”

3.3 Relevance: Alignment with roles and responsibilities

Assessment of the roles and responsibilities of the federal government in delivering the programs.

There are opportunities to clarify roles and responsibilities between the Secretariat and the PSC.

As a result of shared legislative responsibilities of these programs, there should be clearly defined roles and responsibilities between the Secretariat and the PSC. We therefore examined program documentation, held interviews with key stakeholders and conducted surveys of the program users to determine if roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, communicated and understood.

In the delivery of SEP, with multiple stakeholders involved in delivering the programs, a clear understanding of individual responsibilities is essential as each stakeholder has a unique role to play in ensuring that students obtain meaningful employment through the programs. Without this understanding, there is a risk that the delivery and design of the program would not be efficient, effective or aligned with the objectives of each organization.

Key roles and responsibilities

Hiring departments and agencies

Departments and agencies are responsible for student hiring in accordance with the Student Employment Policy and regulatory framework. Deputy heads are held accountable to the PSC for the proper use of their delegated authority to appoint students.

Treasury Board Secretariat

Pursuant to sections 7 and 11.1 of the Financial Administration Act, the TB is responsible for HR management in the federal public administration and can establish policies or directives respecting the exercise of its responsibilities and powers. Student employment is part of this HR management authority, and, as such, in 1997 TB introduced the first Student Employment Policy (amended in 1998 and 1999, see Appendix A for details) that designates a number of student employment programs, including FSWEP, RAP and CO-OP.

The Secretariat’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) is the centre of expertise for HR management in the public service. It develops the broad policy direction and standards that enable deputy heads to fulfill their primary responsibility for effective people management within their organization. OCHRO is responsible for TB policy instruments governing student employment in the core public administration, including the Student Employment Policy and Terms and Conditions of Employment for Students and Student Rates of Pay. OCHRO is also responsible for monitoring organizational performance and may collect salary administration data directly from the compensation system to review organizational application of the policy and review audit and evaluation reports for the same purpose.

OCHRO is in the process of finalizing a new TB Workforce Policy. The Student Employment Policy (1999) and Student Employment Programs in the Federal Government (2003), along with other policy instruments, will be subsumed within this new integrated policy.Footnote6

Public Service Commission – Regulatory, policy and oversight role

Part of the mandate of the PSC is to promote and safeguard the integrity of the staffing system. Pursuant to subsection 29(1) of the PSEA, the PSC has exclusive authority to appoint to the public service, and in accordance with subsection 15(1), may delegate to deputy heads appointment-related authorities, including student appointments.

Student Employment Programs Participants Exclusion Approval Orders and Regulations

The PSEA provides the PSC with the authority to exclude certain persons or positions or class of persons or positions from the application of all or parts of the PSEA when it is not practicable or in the best interest of the public service, with the approval of the Governor in Council. As such the PSC is responsible for the current Student Employment Programs Participants EAO and its associated Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations, which were updated in 2010.

National Area of Selection Policy

The EAO discussed above does not exclude the PSC's authority to "establish policies respecting the manner of making and revoking appointments and taking correction action" (subsection 29(3) of the PSEA). Under this authority, in 2008 the PSC extended the requirement of its Area of Selection Policy to use a national area of selection (NAoS) for full-time post-secondary student appointments. This policy requires organizations to give national access to full-time student employment opportunities to students.

Oversight

The Public Service Commission of Canada conducts monitoring and audit activities it deems necessary to ensure conformity with the Student Employment Policy and with the Student Employment Programs Participants EAO and Regulations.

Public Service Commission - Program administration role

The Staffing and Assessment Services Branch (SASB) plays an important role in developing systems for recruitment and assessment across the public service. In addition to providing students and hiring managers with information and guidance on each of the programs on the PSC external Web site, they are responsible for the following for each program:

  • FSWEP: SASB is responsible for managing the FSWEP recruitment campaign on PSRS. Students apply to the FSWEP e-recruitment inventory on PSRS and are referred to hiring managers based on electronic matching of skills and job requirements.
  • CO-OP: SASB is responsible for approving school CO-OP and internship programs. SASB maintains a database of approved programs for use by hiring organizations.
  • RAP: SASB allows hiring managers to post student jobs on PSRS. Students apply directly to posted opportunities for RAP through PSRS.

Roles and responsibilities are not always clear to stakeholders

Stakeholder interviews revealed that although SEP are well-established programs readily used by organizations, there exist some communication and coordination issues concerning roles and responsibilities that impede the effectiveness of the programs, as well as their strategic use, to meet future needs.

Interviews conducted revealed some confusion regarding PSC and OCHRO responsibilities for particular elements of the program. For example, some PSC internal stakeholders were of the view that SEP were “owned” by OCHRO, while others were more of the view that the PSC or OCHRO each held the responsibility for dealing with particular aspects of SEP, in accordance with their respective mandates.

Some stakeholders indicated that responsibility for SEP, like developmental programs and HR planning responsibilities previously owned by the PSC, has been “transferred” to the Secretariat following the implementation of the 2003 PSEA. Although the evaluation found documents concerning the transfer of developmental programs, none were found regarding the transfer of SEP. Nor did the evaluation uncover any official or accurateFootnote7 documents outlining SEP areas of responsibilities for both organizations; despite the existence of a provision within the Student Employment Policy discussing the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat and the PSC would outline responsibilities, conditions and accountability criteria.

This is important to hiring manager stakeholders in particular, as evaluation results reveal that a lack of coordination between the Secretariat and the PSC has resulted in some unresolved discrepancies in communication and in the interpretation of policy-related issues. Several examples were cited: There are inconsistencies regarding the definition of the graduation date between the Secretariat and the PSC that result in confusion around student tenures and a lack of clarity exists concerning the extent to which separate employers subject to the PSEA can use SEP. Additionally, some regional PSC stakeholders consulted indicated that they sometimes learned about changes to SEP informally. Finally, some PSC representatives felt that they were not authorized to make certain changes to the program because they understood that the PSC’s role was restricted to being the administrator of the programs. Part of the reason for this confusion is that SEP rely on the TB Student Employment Policy, the PSC’s Student Employment Programs Participants EAO, Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations and the Area of Selection Policy.

Well-defined roles and responsibilities could help with the creation of a governance strategy in order to help ensure that SEP are well positioned to continue to meet the needs of users. This could help ensure alignment between program outputs and outcomes and longer-term, support government renewal.

Recommendation 1:

The Secretariat and the PSC should determine and clearly document the roles and responsibilities for each organization and communicate them to stakeholders.

3.4 Performance: Achievement of expected outcomes

Assessment of progress toward expected outcomes (immediate, intermediate and ultimate) with reference to performance targets and program reach and program design, including the linkage and contribution of outputs to outcomes.

3.4.1 Meeting the needs of hiring managers

SEP are meeting the needs of hiring managers but there are opportunities to improve certain operational aspects of the programs.

One of the goals of SEP is to allow hiring managers to quickly and efficiently hire well-performing students for short-term work assignments. We therefore assessed the level of satisfaction of hiring managers with respect to the tools and processes used in the program and the quality of students.

Effective tools and processes contribute to the speed and ease with which students are brought into the workforce. Given that these assignments are short-term in nature, long and complicated processes would make these programs less effective in meeting hiring managers’ needs. Additionally, the student’s ability to perform the job is a strong indicator of how well aligned the SEP processes are with the expected skill set requirements of hiring managers.

Students are hired to conduct short-term clerical, research and information technology roles

Table 2 presents the main reasons why hiring managers surveyed use each SEP.

Table 2: Hiring managers' main reasons to use SEP
FSWEP CO-OP RAP
1) Undertake short-term work
2) Assist the work unit during periods of staff shortages
3) Work seasonally or during periods of high work volume
1) Undertake short-term work
2) Assist the work unit during periods of staff shortages
3) Meet work commitments in a cost-effective manner
1) Undertake short-term work
2) Access to individuals with specific competencies
3) Meet work commitments in a cost-effective manner

Source: Hiring manager surveys

As shown in Table 3, the most frequent types of positions staffed using SEP, as reported by hiring managers surveyed, are of a clerical/administrative nature. Several positions are also linked to information technology and research.

Table 3: Positions staffed through SEP
Program Position type Percentage of all positions
staffed in that program
FSWEP Clerical/Administrative 40%
Research 33%
Information technology 23%
CO-OP Research 41%
Clerical/Administrative 28%
Information technology 26%
RAP Research work in agriculture, food science, forestry, fisheries 56%
Research work in pure, natural and applied sciences 51%

Source: Hiring manager surveys

As part of the surveys, hiring managers were asked if they had used other methods to hire students and roughly 30% of them indicated that they had. They indicated that they have used a casual or term appointment (CO-OP and FSWEP hiring managers) or volunteer work agreement (RAP hiring managers).Footnote8

Speed and flexibility of the process is key to meeting hiring managers’ needs

Hiring managers and HR representatives were surveyed on the level of importance they place on various process elements of the three student programs and their level of satisfaction with those same elements. Overall, hiring managers considered speed, flexibility, ability to re-employ, response time when contacting the PSC and level of effort compared to other staffing types to be the most important process elements when hiring students.

They were most satisfied with ability to re-employ, bridging, response time when contacting the PSC, speed (CO-OP) and ease of use of www.jobs.gc.ca (RAP). In general, the greatest areas of improvement noted by hiring managers were speed and flexibility of the hiring process.

There are opportunities to improve the Federal Student Work Experience Program referral and matching processes to improve speed and flexibility

Federal Student Workplace Experience Program matching process

Sixty-one percent of student hires in the federal government are filled through FSWEP. The program was designed to allow hiring managers to hire students studying at the high school level and onwards and provide them with a meaningful work experience. Students can be hired and re-hired up to three times per year (once per semester). In 2012-2013 there were 5 835 FSWEP hiring activities. The cornerstone of the FSWEP hiring process is a list of skills and qualifications that students and hiring managers are asked to select, based on their respective skills and needs.

Hiring managers felt that that although FSWEP allowed them to hire high quality students, the process could be streamlined. Currently FSWEP participants are selected from a long list of criteria. They noted that the provision of more specific skills/qualifications for FSWEP students would help them hire students who are better matches to the types of positions they staff and a streamlined process for hiring RAP students would save time for the hiring manager. Interviews revealed that hiring managers are sometimes referred students who do not meet their criteria.

Matching students with jobs is done as follows: All of the criteria that the hiring manager selected are used to run a search for candidates. If fewer than 10 candidates are identified through the initial search, a subsequent search is run looking for matches to some or most of the criteria. Managers can tell the PSC that some of their search criteria are mandatory, but if they do not specify, a PSC advisor determines which criteria to drop from the search and actions the change in the PSRS. This means that hiring managers may be referred students who only meet one of the four criteria selected. Managers are still required to assess all candidates they are referred and are not permitted to screen out candidates based on their applications. The PSC normally sends hiring managers the applications of five students per FSWEP position.

Survey results indicated that three-quarters (75%) of managers and HR representatives felt that the number of candidates referred by the PSC (about five per position to fill) was appropriate. Of those who felt it was inadequate, over 55% would prefer 8-10 referrals.

Finding appropriate skills

Difficulties hiring managers noted included: Finding FSWEP skills that accurately matched their needs; the list of skills being too long, some skills were no longer relevant and some specialized skills were not included. An analysis of most common skills and specializations selected by hiring managers and students for the 2012-2013 FSWEP campaign demonstrated that 50% of hiring manager selections pertained to the same 25 skills (mainly computer-related) and students were also likely to select skills in this category. Managers also reported that students self-report their second language proficiency when applying to FSWEP and they sometimes overstate their ability to communicate in their second official language.

From the list of skills and professional certificates, surveys revealed that managers found that the following items met their needs: The number of available competencies (56%), the relevance of competencies to the types of positions available in their work units (55%) and the matching of skills to job requirements (49%). Fifty-eight percent of respondents considered that the list of competencies and professional certificates could be improved.

Federal Student Work Experience Program – National search requirement and student mobility

Hiring managers indicated hiring locally may be more efficient

Hiring managers were somewhat satisfied with the mobility of FSWEP students (61%) and managers raised this issue of FSWEP mobility in the context of PSC FSWEP referrals. For FSWEP, all full-time positions are subject to NAoS searches. If the national search is unproductive following two or three rounds of searches, a local search is conducted. NAoS searches can however yield names of candidates from other regions who often turned out to be unwilling to relocate for an FSWEP job, in spite of having indicated the contrary on the application.

Hiring managers noted and understand the requirement of the PSC to provide access to the program to students across the country through the use of the NAoS. At the same time, they remark that delays occur when students turn out not to be as mobile as they had thought they would be. When the student is unavailable, the hiring manager is left to start the process over again.

A number of HR advisors are of the view that conducting local area of selection searches only would meet the needs of both students and the hiring organization for FSWEP. Interviews and written survey comments from hiring managers and HR advisors indicate that they feel that there would be significant time and energy savings if NAoS searches stopped being used for most FSWEP positions.

Implementation of National Area of Selection Policy was made to ensure fair access to student jobs

The PSC in its Policy and Oversight role is responsible for ensuring that the mission of the PSC respects the spirit of the PSEA, while the program delivery arm of the PSC, SASB, is responsible for delivering SEP in accordance with the associated PSC EAO and TB policies.

The requirement to nationally search the FSWEP database for candidates was a decision taken by the PSC as a way to provide a fair chance to Canadian students to find employment through FSWEP. The EAO excludes appointments of students on merit and the regulations make them subject to be found to meet "the qualifications for the work to be performed and the appointment is free from personal favouritism and political influence." However, the EAO does not exclude the PSC's authority to "establish policies respecting the manner of making and revoking appointments and taking correction action." Under this authority, in 2008 the PSC extended the requirement of its Area of Selection Policy to use a NAoS for full-time post-secondary student appointments. This policy requires organizations to give national access to full-time student employment opportunities to students.

Cooperative Education and Internship Program database could be improved

Students working through the CO-OP program must be pursuing full-time studies at the academic institution in which they are presently enrolled and be enrolled in a PSC-approved CO-OP or Internship program. Prior to hiring students, managers must ensure that the student they are hiring meets those criteria. The PSC maintains a Web site where managers can search for PSC-approved CO-OP programs.

Over three-quarters of hiring managers felt that several CO-OP design elements contributed to an effective student hiring process. Posting advertisements directly in institutions, receiving student referrals from institutions, re-hiring CO-OP students through FSWEP and developing CO-OP job advertisements were all considered to be good support for the effective hiring of students. The search functionality of the PSC Web site for PSC approved CO-OP programs was one area that hiring managers felt could be improved.

According to the survey of CO-OP hiring managers, only 28% of hiring managers surveyed indicated that they consulted the PSC-approved CO-OP program search engine and those who did reported moderate levels of satisfaction with it. HR representatives, however, were more satisfied (77%) with the ease of using the system. Issues noted with the database include: Incorrect or inaccurate information (e.g., the number of CO-OP terms required by the student in order to graduate), limited functionality to search for several programs and schools at a time and other functionalities that appear to make it difficult to find some CO-OP programs.

Research Affiliate Program process could be simplified

Hiring managers (62%) and HR representatives (over 67%) were generally satisfied with the design of the RAP program, although hiring managers were less satisfied with the process of posting the RAP advertisement on the PSC Web site (56%) and receiving referrals from the PSC (49%). Several RAP hiring managers were of the opinion that although the current design of the program allows them to hire qualified students, it could be simplified.

They highlighted the need for a less cumbersome RAP hiring process. They noted that the highly specialized nature of their research and their inherent ties to institutions and persons studying in specific fields already indicated to them who (in many instances) were qualified to perform the requirements of the job. They noted that producing a thorough list of all of the students’ required qualifications and posting the job nationallyFootnote9 on www.jobs.gc.ca limited the efficiency of the process as these steps did not necessarily improve the likelihood of finding other qualified applicants.

Lastly, some stakeholders felt that posting positions in institutions the way the CO-OP program works might be a better way to find candidates. An analysis on 2012-2013 RAP advertisements shows that roughly 30% of RAP posters specify that students must be enrolled or willing to enroll in a specific institution in order to be appointed to the position (due to specific funding arrangements in place with the institution).

Hiring managers are generally satisfied with student employment programs hiring processes and the quality of students

Overall, 74% of FSWEP, 87% of CO-OP and 62% of RAP hiring managers were satisfied with the process of hiring students through SEP. Hiring managers reported that most students who applied for student positions in their organization were qualified for the work to be performed. They were most likely to feel that most RAP students were qualified followed by CO-OP and then FSWEP.

Ninety-four percent of HR representatives were of the view that of the three SEP, the CO-OP program best met their organizational needs by providing access to qualified candidates for future public service appointments (e.g., through bridging), compared to 79% for FSWEP and 78% for RAP. They appreciated CO-OP for presenting students who met the qualifications for the job and for enabling them to hire students quickly and easily. They also expressed that RAP was the least likely out of the three SEP to enable the quick and easy hiring of students.

Referral of FSWEP students is done through the PSRS and works by matching students with jobs based on skills and qualifications mutually selected by them and hiring managers. RAP students are screened electronically by the PSC prior to being referred to hiring organizations. The PSC takes on a very limited role in CO-OP – no screening or referral of students is conducted by the PSC.

Overall, hiring managers were very satisfied with the ability of students to do the job (over 82% satisfied) and their work availability once hired (over 84% satisfied) and highly satisfied with the relevance of students’ education levels and fields of study (over 74% satisfied).

Recommendation 2:

The PSC should review options to improve the speed, flexibility and effectiveness of the hiring processes, in order to better meet the needs of hiring managers, through a review of the FSWEP referral and matching processes, the use of the CO-OP database and the RAP hiring requirements, within the requirements of the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations.

3.4.2 Meeting the needs of students

SEP are meeting the needs of students but there are opportunities to improve communications and awareness of the programs.

Students’ overall satisfaction with the process and the ability of the program to meet their needs is key to meeting program outcomes. We therefore examined the satisfaction of students with the hiring process, the work placements and the awareness and communication around the programs.

Students expect employment programs to meet several of their short and long-term career development needs. This includes supporting their academic studies by providing a source of income, helping them link their work experience to their academic studies and giving them an opportunity to explore a possible future public service career. The ease with which they are brought into the program, the quality of their assigned work and their ability to be informed about the programs are all important elements of a successful student placement.

Student employment programs are meeting the needs of students

Of the students surveyed, over 70% reported that they were given training, mentoring/coaching, clearly defined tasks and duties, interesting tasks, sufficient work and feedback on their work performance. However, only 42% of students said they were given a learning plan, which is a requirement of TB’s Student Employment Policy.

Students surveyed were asked to indicate how each SEP met their needs in regards to SEP’s general objectives. Each SEP is designed to meet a specific need for its users and students were more satisfied with the design elements that most closely matched the objectives of the programs in which they worked. Table 4 presents the results of how each SEP met students’ needs.

Table 4: How the programs met the students’ needs
Students’ needs FSWEP CO-OP RAP
Helping develop their employability skills 74% 72% 45%
Improving their ability to find valuable employment in the future 67% 72% 43%
Offering insight into future employment opportunities 57% 70% 46%
Helping them evaluate their career options within the federal public service 55% 68% 63%
Providing them the opportunity to use their knowledge and technical skills acquired in an academic setting 44% 57% 61%

Source: Student survey

Students were asked to rank the reasons why they applied to work in the federal government. FSWEP students were most likely to use SEP as a way to gain an income (32%), CO-OP students used the program to obtain a job that would lead to a career in the federal public service (29%) and RAP students were most likely to use SEP to gain experience in their field of study (50%).

Students are satisfied with the application and hiring process

Over 50% of students were satisfied with the information they received about their employment prior to starting work and felt that the information clearly represented the work they were expected to undertake. Most students were satisfied with their ability to navigate SEP information available on www.jobs.gc.ca. RAP and long-termCO-OP students were most likely to think that the information they received accurately represented the work they were expected to conduct. Seventy-two percent of the respondents ranged from somewhat satisfied to very satisfied with the clarity of the FSWEP application form and 66% for the process of completing and submitting the form. They did note, however, that the clarity of the information on filling out the forms could be improved.

Overall, students surveyed were generally satisfied with the process of applying to positions, although 56% of students surveyed reported spending more than 31 minutes completing their application form.

Program awareness and communication with students could be improved

Student feedback for this evaluation came from a survey of SEP participants. They were asked where they had heard about SEP (multiple responses were allowed). The majority of students (63%) who responded heard about the programs through word of mouth, 33% learned about them by consulting the www.jobs.gc.ca Web site and 25% through their school’s career placement office.

Over 85% of students felt that the federal government is a competitive employer (in terms of salaries and benefits), offers a choice of diversified work, promotes continuous learning, professional development and a life/work balance. They were slightly less inclined to think that the federal government is an employer that promotes opportunities for advancement (69%).

The literature review highlighted that organizational leaders, through, such programs as the Deputy Minister University Champion Initiative,Footnote10 can play an important role in internal branding through their actions and behaviours. Other research noted that potential candidates for public sector employment seem to be unaware of the wide range of opportunities offered by the public sector and that “the people the public sector will need to recruit in the coming years have misconceptions and do not understand the value proposition of a career in the public sector.”Footnote11

An examination of entries to a career blog thread entitled Ask Me About FSWEP and the Federal Government confirmed that some confusions exists among students regarding FSWEP and federal government employment in general. Many students understand the basics of the referral and selection mechanics and the bridging mechanism, but others feel that the time period between the completion of an application and hearing back from “the government” is often too long, and that this period of silence encourages aimless speculation on their part. Some enquiries about the mechanics of casual, indeterminate and determinate employment and about student bridging were made. Students are aware of resource reductions taking place in the federal public service and wonder whether there are still real hiring opportunities in the current context. Comments on the FSWEP application process included that it is long and confusing because there are several steps required to complete it and that clearer information on how to fill out the FSWEP application would be appreciated.

Students were satisfied with the ease of navigating the information on SEP available through the PSC Web site (69%). However, the evaluation team uncovered certain inconsistencies in the information available on Secretariat and PSC Web sites. For example, both organizations’ Web sites indicate that the CO-OP program is open only to post-secondary students, when in reality hiring managers may hire students who study in secondary school. Another example from both organizations’ Web sites is that the RAP program is used to recruit students to work part-time, when in fact they can work either full or part-time.

Academic institutions consulted indicated that the annual process of updating their information for the Web site could be streamlined and modernized. Other stakeholders noted that the system could be more user-friendly and that the information available on some programs offered in institutions needs to be updated.

Recommendation 3:

The Secretariat and the PSC should review and update their Web sites and other communication tools in order to improve student awareness and understanding of the objectives, use and mechanisms of SEP.

3.4.3 Student access to programs

Access to CO-OP opportunities should be reviewed.

In order to assess the performance of the program in providing fair access to student appointments we examined the location of student job advertisements. We also examined the regions from where students applied to jobs in the public service to see from which geographic locations students were most likely to apply to SEP. Lastly, we looked at how bridging was used to recruit students in to the public service following their student terms.

The preamble of the PSEA highlights the importance of having a public service whose members are drawn from across the country. Access to public service employment must be considered when making student appointments. Bridging is an important tool for hiring managers to provide access to public service appointments and recruit members to their teams. It is also an indicator of student programs’ capacity in recruiting future public servants.

Co-operative Education and Internship Program opportunities could be more widely advertised

The CO-OP program is managed by hiring managers who post their job advertisements at chosen schools that have PSC-approved programs. In order to provide greater access to full-time CO-OP jobs, the PSC’s Area of Selection Policy requires, that advertisement be made nationally. The evaluation reviewed the distribution of CO-OP opportunities across the country to determine whether the policy requirement is being respected.

Access by institution

The evaluation survey revealed that about 40% of hiring managers surveyed post their jobs in only one school and roughly 30% do so in two schools. Presently, the only time managers should be posting advertisements at only one school is if they are hiring from a program only available in one institution. Guidance on the PSC Web site states that organizations must consider students from different institutions in order to yield a reasonable pool of qualified candidates. This guidance can only be found in one of the Questions and Answers pages associated with the three student programs.

Distribution of Co-operative Education and Internship Program hires by institution

A review of the distribution of CO-OP hires by institution demonstrates that the majority of students (52%) are hired through the program from universities within the NCR (University of OttawaFootnote12 and Carleton UniversityFootnote13). Using only one school and limiting the hiring to specific institutions can be viewed as limiting access because fewer students actually see CO-OP advertisements. For more information on the distribution of hiring by school, please see Appendix D, Table 12.

National Capital Region position availability and student area of residence

Although access to the CO-OP program is managed by hiring managers and contingent on where students study, ensuring that students from across the country have access to CO-OP jobs remains an important factor to program administrators. A review of PSC data indicates that the majority of CO-OP hires take place in the NCR (56%) and of those positions, only 30% are occupied by students who indicated an area of residence outside the NCR.

Hiring manager challenges

An issue that can arise when attempting to hire CO-OP students from two different schools is the reconciliation of different deadlines that schools assign to submitting results from the assessment process. When hiring managers interview CO-OP students from different schools, they are asked by the institution to submit their results to the schools by certain dates, and students who come from schools with shorter turnaround times may then be afforded opportunities over others. This timing issue was noted as being outside of the PSC’s jurisdiction, but nevertheless problematic, by several hiring managers. In addition, assessing a large number of students can be labour intensive. This is perhaps a disincentive to advertise widely, especially if the hiring manager knows that willing, qualified individuals are to be found at a given institution.

Research Affiliate Program

For RAP, job advertisements are posted on www.jobs.gc.ca and are open to Canadian students RAP jobs are posted on PSRS, but managers have the option to limit access to students from a specific institution or willing to transfer to an institution when funding for research can be linked to an organization and a particular institution.

The evaluation team also looked at a sample of 120 2012-2013 RAP advertisements and found that 68% were for part-time positions. Although the NAoS for student appointments only applies to full-time positions, program administrators advertise all RAP positions (full and part-time) nationally.

Federal Student Work Experience Program access

Access to full-time FSWEP jobs is managed through the requirement to search the national database of candidates. These measures are taken to ensure that Canadian students have access to positions in the federal government.

National Capital Region hiring trends

Students moving to the National Capital Region

  • In 2012-2013, only 20% of FSWEP NCR jobs, 30% of CO-OPFootnote14 NCR jobs and 30% of RAP NCR jobs were filled with students who indicated an area of residence outside of the NCR.

Position availability in the NCR 2007-2013

  • In 2012-2013, 43% of the FSWEP hires, 56% of the CO-OP hires and 34% of the RAP hires were in the NCR; and
  • While the percentage of positions in the NCR for CO-OP and RAP remained relatively stable over the last six years, there was an increase in the percentage of FSWEP jobs in the NCR over the same period, passing from 36% in 2007-2008 to 43% in 2012-2013.

Integration of former students into the public service occurs and further supports the need for fair access

This evaluation looked at the integration of former students into the public service in two ways. Firstly, bridging (the hiring of a student from a student job to a full-time public service job) is a good indicator of the programs’ capacities to recruit future public servants. The evaluation reviewed the actual bridging numbers that shows the number of students who were brought in to the public service from a student position upon completion of their studies. In 2012-2013, about 9%Footnote15 of all indeterminate hires were former students who were bridged. Stakeholders consulted agreed that bridging former students is an effective and efficient way to easily integrate them into the public service, while saving the time and money normally associated with conducting term or indeterminate staffing processes.

Secondly, the evaluation looked at the number of students who obtained employment (term or indeterminate positions) in the federal public service, not necessarily through bridging, after having once held a student position. This is also a good indicator that a student position leads to the recruitment of future public servants, even when the actual bridging mechanism is not utilized. PSC data shows that between 23% and 28% of former students were appointed into either term or indeterminate positions following their student work terms (between 1997-2011). SEP therefore appears to be a mechanism that addresses a part of the public service renewal challenge.

Given the programs’ capacities in bringing students into public service jobs upon completion of their studies, this further supports the need to ensure that student programs are accessible to Canadian students. Students who have obtained federal government employment experience have up to a one in four chance of obtaining a public service career opportunity.

Recommendation 4:

The PSC should review CO-OP access and determine whether additional guidance or monitoring will be required to ensure that hiring organizations are respecting the national area of selection requirements.

3.5 Performance: Demonstration of efficiency and economy and alternatives

Assessment of resource utilization in relation to the production of outputs and progress toward expected outcomes.

There are opportunities to further improve the performance of SEP.

In order to examine the efficiency and economy of SEP, we looked at student wages and program costs. We also examined literature detailing the emerging trends in staffing, including the importance of an employer’s Web site, pre-screen testing and advanced matching. Based on consultations with stakeholders, we identified ways to improve technologies for SEP. Finally, we identified potential areas of improvement in delivering SEP.

Efficient program delivery is always important for ensuring value for money in the delivery of SEP. An examination of trends in student hiring is important as it provides insight into new technologies being used for hiring students. Lastly, an identification of potential areas for change is important as it highlights areas where adjustments to the programs could increase program efficiency.

Students and their payroll in Public Service Employment Act organizations

The PSC tracks information and data on student hiring across government. Several data collection processes are used and challenges arise due to the unique nature of each program. For instance, the annual FSWEP campaign doesn’t coincide with fiscal years, RAP hiring information is manually tracked in Excel (outside of PSRS) and CO-OP applications are not tracked by the PSC as the entire staffing process has been delegated to organizations, so only hiring information is available.

Achieving accurate tracking and data integration is also complicated by having to deal with the different hiring terms of each program such as “splits” between full-time and part-time employment or between semesters and other considerations. Other complications for accurate tracking include: CO-OP students can work up to two full-time CO-OP terms per year and may work through the FSWEP program part-time during the academic semester, students working through any of the SEP can work during the entire year, FSWEP students work full-time during the summer and can work part-time during their academic semesters and RAP students’ research assignments can vary in length and may last longer than a year.

The table below presents 2012-2013 numbers of SEP work terms in the federal public service and their average associated pay.

Table 5: 2012-2013 Average student salary expenditures
  2012-2013
Student programs Number of student work terms Average hourly salary per student Average hours worked per student Average yearly salary
FSWEP 6,260 $16.29 516 $8,405.61
CO-OP 4,368 $16.93 556 $9,408.34
RAP 518 $18.55 535 $9,928.16

Source: Secretariat Incumbent System Files

Student employment programs costs

It must be noted that an absence of data on costs associated with similar employment programs limited the analysis performed and the evaluation team’s ability to determine whether SEP are run efficiently compared to other types of student employment programs. As well, the costs incurred by organizations that hired students were not collected or included in the cost of running the programs. SEP program annual salary and non-salary costs for 2012-2013 was $515,731 and they enabled 9 561 student hiring activities during that same time period.

Program management suggested that there would be value in conducting a SEP work breakdown review looking at each step in the student hiring process in order to determine where efficiencies could be gained. They also noted that some issues with student hiring rest with PSRS and are not unique to the hiring of students.

Extended Web site usage

One theme that emerged from the literature review was the importance of an employer’s recruitment Web site. These sites were seen as essential components of any recruiting strategy. A well-designed Web site has the ability to be integrated with existing systems, can help build a relationship with candidates and the employer’s brand can be incorporated into the site to attract viewers to apply. A recruiting Web site can also provide potential candidates with an overview of the organizational culture and realistic job previews. Recruiting Web sites can also automate certain recruitment and hiring process functions, such as the assessment of candidate suitability and initial screening.Footnote16 In this regard, others emphasized that deliberately connecting recruitment and early screening processes help to provide a “rich candidate pool and a solid method for identifying those in the pool with the highest potential.”Footnote17 Combined SEP Web sites could benefit from a general review of their functionality to maximize their usefulness.

Self-screen testing

The PSC’s Personnel Psychology Centre offers unsupervised self-assessment tests for second language writing skills that are seen only by the applicant. This allows them to assess their proficiency in their second official language prior to submitting their application. Results of this self-assessment are not considered in the appointment process but provide useful information to candidates about their likelihood of meeting the official language requirements of the position. This type of testing could be considered as part of the SEP processes as well as other unsupervised internet testing.

Advanced matching

The literature shows that profile matching tools that can return a list of suitable jobs, based on a user’s preferences and interests have significant benefits, among them providing a better match between the work sought by the user and the reality of the job environment. This, in turn, can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and tenure (Reynolds and Weiner 2009). With the new technologies available today, job previews can be combined with assessments of suitability for advanced and refined matching. FSWEP does currently conduct some matching. Improved matching capabilities could provide reliable and “ranked” matching that, when applied, might satisfy both accessibility and efficiency demands. This may be worth exploring further.

Suggested improvements to student employment programs technology

Stakeholders consulted as part of the evaluation brought forth a number of suggestions to improve the technical delivery of SEP. Suggestions include:

  • Make available more complete student files in PSRS (containing previous letters of offer) to facilitate re-hiring and more clearly indicate geographic areas in PSRS;
  • Make available clearer and more detailed descriptions of positions available for students, including generic ones for common student jobs; and
  • Create an FSWEP Centre of Expertise (or some such unit) to troubleshoot, implement suggestions and facilitate questions and answers for hiring managers and others.

Potential areas for change

Suggestions for incremental improvement and streamlining the existing programs were identified, some of which align well with a current Staffing and Assessment Services Branch project to optimize SEP. The most important ones include:

  • Piloting direct access by organizations for RAP by authorizing them to advertise positions and manage applications;
  • Upgrading the search function of the CO-OP database;
  • Providing direct access to the FSWEP inventory with an appropriate control framework in place; and
  • Involving functional communities in the strategic hiring of students by tapping into their expertise and knowledge regarding future job skill requirements.

The evaluation identified several opportunities for the program to consider when making improvements to SEP in the future. The evaluation team suggests that program administrators consider these opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of SEP when making changes to the programs.

4. Conclusions

  1. Is there a continued need for student employment programs?

    Student employment programs are meeting stakeholders’ needs.

    They address the short-term needs of students and hiring managers and long-term generic public service renewal needs.

  2. Are student employment programs aligned with government priorities?

    Student employment programs are aligned with federal government priorities and strategic outcomes.

    Alignment between SEP outcomes and the Secretariat and PSC strategic outcomes as well as the federal government priorities shows that the programs are continuing to support the mandate of both organizations and of the federal government as a whole.

  3. Are roles and responsibilities for student employment programs clearly defined and communicated?

    There are opportunities to clarify roles and responsibilities between the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Commission.

    SEP utilize the contributions of several stakeholders in order to deliver the programs. The evaluation found that the roles of stakeholders could be more clearly defined.

  4. Are student employment programs achieving their expected outcomes?

    Student employment programs are meeting the needs of hiring managers but there are opportunities to improve certain operational aspects of the programs.

    Overall, hiring managers were satisfied with a number of design features and the convenience of using SEP to hire students. Stakeholders felt, however, that a number of other minor adjustments to the delivery of the programs would improve the student hiring experience.

    Student employment programs are meeting the needs of students but there are opportunities to improve communication and awareness of the programs.

    Students were generally pleased with their work experience in meeting their needs but communication around program elements could be improved.

    Access to the CO-OPerative Education and Internship Program should be reviewed.

    Ensuring access to CO-OP programs is managed by hiring organizations and requires more attention. Improvements to student access will help provide opportunities to a broader group of students who are eligible to be bridged in to the public service following their student work terms.

  5. Are student employment programs demonstrating efficiency and economy?

    There are opportunities to further improve the performance of Student employment programs.

    The evaluation found opportunities to improve the performance of SEP, such as the use of self-screen testing and advanced skills matching.

5. Management Response and Action Plan

The Public Service Commission (PSC) as well the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) welcomes these recommendations and considers them essential in shaping the strategic direction of student employment in the Federal Public Service. TBS and PSC both play a leadership role in the Student Employment Programs (SEP). This Management Response and Action Plan (MRAP) represents planned actions that reflect the following:

  • Treasury Board, as the employer and through the Treasury Board Secretariat (Secretariat), is the policy authority for establishing the terms and conditions of student employment, including the student employment programs;
  • Under the delegated staffing system set out in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), the PSC fulfils its mandate of promoting and safeguarding appointments based on merit and free from political influence by providing department and agencies with clear regulations, policies and guidance in relation to appointments, including hiring of students.
  • The Treasury Board Student Employment Policy also identifies the PSC as the organization responsible for the recruitment and referral, including re-employment, of all candidates for student employment programs designated by the Treasury Board.

The action plan will not only address the recommendations but also take into consideration the larger Government-wide initiatives such as the upcoming revisions to workforce excellence policy, the implementation of Canada.ca as well as the HR modernization project. The aim is not only to optimize the SEP but also line up with the future direction of HR in the Public Service.

Broad elements of this work will include:

  • a strengthened collaboration between the PSC and TBS while clarifying our own roles and responsibilities to our stakeholders;
  • a push to increase IT enabling functions to enhance the hiring manager’s and HR abilities in employing students;
  • renewing our web presence to better connect with students; and
  • maximizing hiring flexibilities all the while ensuring access to students across the country.
Management Response and Action Plan
Recommendations Response and Planned Action Office of Primary Interest Estimated
Completion Date
Recommendation 1
The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) should determine and clearly document the roles and responsibilities for each organization and communicate them to stakeholders.
Agreed by both organizations.

TBS and the PSC will collaborate with the goal of clarifying the respective roles and responsibilities of each organization. Both organizations will work to identify relevant stakeholders and to communicate the updated roles and responsibilities.
TBS Executive Director, People Management and Community Engagement Directorate;
PSC Director General Central Programs and Regional Offices (CPRO); and
PSC Director General Policy Development Directorate (PDD)
April 2015
Recommendation 2
The PSC should review options to improve the speed, flexibility and effectiveness of the hiring processes, in order to better meet the needs of hiring managers, through a review of the FSWEP referral and matching processes, the use of the CO-OP database and the RAP hiring requirements, within the requirements of the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations.
PSC Agrees.

The PSC will assess the feasibility of adapting its business processes in order address the recommendation, including the necessary capability of making the required IT changes.

1) Review FSWEP referral internal process in the Public Service Resourcing System (PSRS) and explore / identify ways to improve referral and matching processes to meet the needs of hiring managers

2) Update the CO-OP database information and review program approval criteria and define parameters to manage exceptions

3) Establish & implement RAP Direct Access to delegated departments and establish a plan to assist non-delegated departments
PSC Director General CPRO; and
PSC Director General, Information Technology Services Directorate
April 2016
Recommendation 3
TBS and the PSC should review and update their Web sites and other communication tools in order to improve student awareness and understanding of the objectives, use and mechanisms of the SEP.
Agreed by both organizations.

TBS agrees that SEP documentation on their Website may no longer be relevant in light of the anticipated Workforce Excellence Policy. TBS will review documents related to Student Employment posted on their Website and will coordinate with the PSC to ensure that information is consistent across both organizations. The PSC will update their communication vehicles with the goal of improving awareness and understanding of SEP among students.
TBS Executive Director, People Management and Community Engagement Directorate; and

PSC Director General CPRO
August 2015
Recommendation 4
The PSC should review CO-OP access and determine whether additional guidance or monitoring will be required to ensure that hiring organizations are respecting the national area of selection requirements.
PSC agrees.

The PSC will review its policy instruments, administration framework and monitoring approaches related to CO-OP access and determine what guidance and changes are required in order to enhance CO-OP access for students.
PSC Director General PDD; and
PSC Director General CPRO
April 2016

Appendix A – Regulatory and Policy Framework of Student Employment Programs

SummaryFootnote18 of the regulatory and policy framework of student employment programs
TB’s policy PSC’s EAO and Regulations
1995 From 1993 to April 1997, students were considered employees under the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA) and were entitled to a full range of benefits. As part of the Budget Implementation Act of 1996, the PSSRA was amended so that it no longer applied to students.   In January 1995, adoption of the first student Exclusion Approval Orders (EAO) and Regulations, following an audit that revealed that the system in place did not ensure equitable treatment of candidates and that favouritism often influenced student appointments.

The EAO and Regulations allowed the PSC to create and manage a national inventory where students had to register and that organizations had to use to hire students.

The EAO also excluded hiring from the application of merit to allow for a random selection of students referred to organizations by the PSC. The Regulations reintroduced (at section 6) the selection based on merit after the referral stage.
1997 Implementation of the first Student Employability Skills Policy, as of April 1997. Under this policy, students are considered as trainees rather than full fledged employees.

The objectives of the policy are focused on developing the employability skills of students in order to help them transit from school to work, rather than promising future employment in the federal government.
At the request of TB, adoption in April 1997 of the Student Employment Program EAO and Regulations Respecting the Hiring of Persons within Student Employment Programs and revocation of the previous ones.

Although TB’s policy considered students as trainees rather than employees, they were still considered employees under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). As such, they could participate in internal appointment processes (then called closed competitions). The new EAO and Regulations changed the status of students under the PSEA and prevented them from competing in internal processes.

Although the Regulations are not referring to the use of the inventory introduced in 1995, the PSC remained responsible for referring students to organizations. Student hiring is excluded from the application of merit but the Regulations specify that students have to “[possess] the competencies required for the work to be performed.”
1998 Following representation from deputy ministers who identified the Student Employability Skills Policy as a barrier to the implementation of their La Relève initiative, TB revised its policy to include the following objective:
  • To encourage federal organizations to hire students in order to develop a pool of qualified candidates for future public service appointments
The revised Policy came in effect on January 1, 1998 and was named the Student Employment Policy.
In July 1998, following representation from organizations who expressed a need to facilitate the integration of students in to public service jobs and considering the new objective of TB’s Student Employment Policy (see above), the PSC amended its Regulations. The amendments introduced a bridging mechanismFootnote19 that allowed students to participate in internal appointment processes (closed competitions) when:
  1. Persons appointed within SEP were specifically included in the area of selection determined for the appointment process;
  2. They met the other criteria of the area of selection; and
  3. They were able to demonstrate that they were capable of completing the education program within the time frame indicated on the advertisement
1999 On January 1, 1999, amendments to the compensation component of the Student Employment Policy were made. The policy kept as objectives to:
  • Encourage federal organizations to hire students in order to develop a pool of qualified candidates for future public service appointments; and
  • Provide employment opportunities for Canadian students that will enrich their academic programs, help fund their education and encourage them to complete their studies, develop their employability skills and improve their ability to find good jobs after graduation, offer insights into future employment opportunities and help them evaluate their career options within the federal public service.
In December 1999, the PSC further amended its Student Employment Programs Regulations to make appointments done through the internal process bridging mechanism subject to a probationary period.

Prior to this amendment, appointments done through the internal process bridging mechanism were not subject to a probationary period since the section of the PSEA relating to a probationary period only applied to external appointments. This resulted in two categories of former students being treated differently. Those not subject to the probationary period also had an advantage over most other initial appointees to the public service.
2010   To reflect the spirit and intent of the PSEA (2003) that came into effect in December 2005, the PSC updated its Student Employment Programs Participants EAO and the Student Employment Programs Participants Regulations in July 2010. Amendments were made to harmonize the EAO with the authorities and provisions of the PSEA (2003). For example, provisions on political activities, on the oath or affirmation and on the PSC’s oversight activities are clearly identified as applying to student employment.

The amendments did not, however, affect the scheme of hiring students, which remains largely unchanged. As such, the Regulations still include the bridging mechanism introduced in 1998 (advertised internal appointment processes) and the probationary period introduced in 1999.

Appendix B - Logic Model

Student Employment Programs Logic Model

[Text version]

Appendix C - Evaluation Methodology and Limitations

The evaluation used a mixed-method, non-experimental design, incorporating multiple lines of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to address the evaluation issues and questions.

The following methods were used to assess the evaluation issues and questions described in the evaluation matrix:

  • Literature review: The literature review was conducted by the Policy Research Division of the PSC. Themes explored included branding and recruitment, business process re-engineering, student assessment, student conversions (bridging), recruitment and assessment technology, graduate recruitment, student job-related skills and competencies, human resources needs and priorities and demand-driven recruitment.
  • Document review: Documents reviewed included strategic organizational and policy documents (Report on Plans and Priorities, Departmental Performance Report, Public Service Employment Act, Clerk’s Annual Reports, Audit of FSWEP, organizational HR plans, TB policies, etc.) and Web-based documentation about SEP found on the PSC Web site.
  • System data: Data from the Public Service Resourcing System, the pay system and other data systems were analyzed (application rates, student demographics, hiring and re-hiring rates by program and organization, bridging rates); and
  • Key stakeholder interviews: Table 6 presents the key stakeholders group interviewed and the number of persons interviewed.
Table 6: Stakeholders interviewed
Key stakeholder group Number interviewed
Secretariat and PSC representatives 6
Hiring managers 5
University and college CO-OP coordinators 6
HR community 8
Selected students 6
TOTAL 31
  • Deputy Minister Public Service Commission Advisory Committee Discussion: A discussion on the Future of SEP was held with the DM community through this forum to discuss how SEP can best contribute to meeting the future needs of the public service;
  • Comparative analysis: A review of best practices used by other democratic governments and Canadian provinces was conducted to provide insights into their experience and identify potential cost effective alternatives.
  • Surveys: Five on-line surveys were conducted (names and e-mail addresses of survey respondents were provided by Data and Services and Analysis Directorate, PSRS and organizations). Table 7 presents the response rate and confidence interval of each survey.
Table 7: Survey information
Survey group Number of respondents Response rate Confidence interval
Students 752 30% 95% +/- 3.3%
FSWEP hiring managers 285 48% 95% +/- 5.6%
CO-OP hiring managers 136 N/A N/A
RAP hiring managers 46 51% 95% +/- 10.1%
HR advisors 155 N/A N/A

N/A: Non-probabilistic samples

 

Limitations
Limitation/consideration Mitigation strategy Impact on evaluation
Consultations limited to stakeholders familiar with the programs Unsuccessful students’ perspectives obtained by reviewing social media comments such as Blueprint 2020, Twitter and Redflag blog comments Incidental information used and not paralleled with users’ perspectives on specific criteria
Unlike the FSWEP and RAP hiring manager surveys, there was no sampling frame for HR advisors and CO-OP hiring managers Organizations were asked to provide the names of five CO-OP hiring managers and HR advisors who provide support to managers in using SEP These were two convenient samples rather than probabilistic, results represent respondents’ views and not necessarily that of all users of that category
RAP smallest SEP with low number of users. Response rate acceptable but sample size did not lend itself to all statistical analyses The sample size was increased for the RAP students and all hiring managers who have used RAP during the covered time frame were included in the sample For a limited number of statistical analyses RAP was excluded but this only had an impact for conditional questions and multivariate analyses
The evaluation's forward-looking approach was limited due to insufficient secondary data available on public service shortage groups and future hiring and business needs  A sample of HR plans up to 2012 examined to assess whether federal organizations use student hiring to meet future needs. In addition, the literature review covered new strategic skills and competencies Sample examined addressed several aspects of HR management (internal/external hiring strategies, talent management, succession planning, etc.), student-related information limited. Survey results and literature review gave some indication of emerging qualifications and improvements to better meet needs

Appendix D - Additional Usage Information and Statistical Tables

Types of students recruited through student employment programs

The three programs are used to hire students who study in similar fields.

Public Service Commission (PSC) data on student hires does not track the types of student employment offered through student employment programs (SEP) in a systematic way. However, the survey that was conducted as part of the evaluation demonstrated that 23% of FSWEP students study in social sciences/humanities, 12% in business administration and 12% in biological/agriculture sciences,Footnote20 (n=498). The fields of study for CO-OP students are similar to FSWEP, with 25% studying in social sciences/humanities, 12% in public administration, 11% in business administration and 11% in biological/agriculture sciences (n=124). RAP students indicated that 65% study in biological/agriculture science, 11% in business administration and 6% in social sciences/humanities (n=23). Students studying in SEP are predominantly at the bachelor’s degree level.

The Co-operative and Internship Program is mostly used in the National Capital Region (56%) compared to the Federal Student Work Experience Program (42%) and the Research Affiliate Program (34%).

A large proportion of SEP use in the NCR (CO-OP at 56%, FSWEP at 42% and RAP at 34%). Almost 60% of academic institutions offering CO-OP programs are located in Ontario (33%) and Quebec (24%). In 2012-2013, the majority of students working through the SEP reported English as their first official language in the following proportions (FSWEP at 72%, CO-OP at 84% and RAP at 76%). In the survey of CO-OP hiring managers, approximately 30% of managers indicated posting CO-OP advertisements in more than one academic institution. Eighteen percent of FSWEP NCR jobs are filled with students who indicated an area of residence outside of the NCR and 32% of CO-OP and RAP jobs in the NCR are filled with students who indicated an area of residence outside of the NCR. Non-NCR residents occupying NCR jobs are primarily from Ontario, Quebec and BC. The majority of student jobs in 2013 were located in the NCR, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Students who are members of employment equity groups are appointed at a higher rate than at which they apply.

Table 8: Percentage of student applicants to advertised processes and student hiring activities to the public service, by employment equity designated group, for fiscal year 2012-2013
Employment equity designated group Student applicants % Student hires %
Aboriginal Peoples 2.1 3.2
Persons with disabilities 1.8 2.2
Members of visible minorities 18.8 19.1
Women N/A 57.3

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files and the PSRS

FSWEP and CO-OP are used to fill similar types of jobs

Data from the surveys of hiring managers show that FSWEP and CO-OP hiring managers are most likely to hire students to conduct research or perform administrative/clerical and information-technology related work. Research conducted by students hired through the RAP is mostly related to agriculture, food sciences, forestry, fisheries and natural and applied sciences. The Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is the biggest user of the RAP program, with 55% of the student hiring activities followed by National Research Canada at 18%.

Tables 9-11: Use of student employment programs, by organization, in 2012-2013

Table 9: Ten highest FSWEP users
Organization Number of hiring
activities
Percentage of
overall FSWEP
hiring activities
1. Canada Border Services Agency 785 13.5
2. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 663 11.4
3. National Defence (civilian) 630 10.8
4. Public Works and Government Services Canada 504 8.6
5. Employment and Social Development Canada 480 8.2
6. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 263 4.5
7. Environment Canada 244 4.2
8. Correctional Service Canada 227 3.9
9. Citizenship and Immigration Canada 214 3.7
10. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada 205 3.5

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files

Table 10: 10 (11) highest RAP users
Organization Number of
hiring activities
Percentage of
overall RAP hiring
activities
1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 175 55
2. Natural Resources Canada 58 18.2
3. Health Canada 21 6.6
4. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 13 4.1
5. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada 9 2.8
6. Citizenship and Immigration Canada 9 2.8
7.Environment Canada 8 2.5
8. Justice Canada (Department of) 4 1.3
9. Public Safety Canada 4 1.3
10. Canadian Space Agency 3 0.9
10. Veterans Affairs Canada 3 0.9

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files

Table 11: 10 highest CO-OP users
Organization Number of
hiring activities
Percentage of
overall CO-OP
hiring activities
1. Environment Canada 618 18.1
2. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 444 13
3. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada 254 7.5
4. National Defence (civilian) 253 7.4
5. Health Canada 209 6.1
6. Public Works and Government Services Canada 204 6
7. Natural Resources Canada 202 5.9
8. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada 178 5.2
9. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 147 4.3
10. Public Health Agency of Canada 125 3.7

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files

SEP Application Trends

Table 12: Schools with highest number of unique applicants and hires, 2012-2013
School FSWEP %
applicants
FSWEP %
hires
RAP %
applicants
RAP %
hires
CO-OP %
hires
University of Ottawa 12.5 19 9.3 13 37
Carleton University 6.7 9 6.4 9 15
University of Waterloo 1.2 1 2.1 0 4
Algonquin College 2.8 2 0 0 3
Dalhousie University 1.4 1 5.4 1 2
McGill University 2.1 2 3.6 2 1
York University 2 1 2.7 0 0
University of Western Ontario 1.7 1 2.5 4 0
Université de Montréal 1.7 3 2.2 1 0
University of Toronto 3 2 2.2 0 1
University of British Columbia 1.5 1 2.1 1 2
University of Manitoba 1.7 2 2.1 7 1

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files and the PSRS

Table 13 presents unique student applicants to FSWEP and RAP compared to the Canadian population aged 15 to 29.

Table 13: Unique student applicants to FSWEP and RAP compared to the Canadian population
(age group 15 to 29)
Geographic area of residence 2012 Canadian
population, age group
15 to 29
(%)

Unique applicants 2012-2013

(%)

FSWEP RAP
British Columbia 12.9 7.6 8.9
Alberta 12.2 4.4 10.8
Saskatchewan 3.4 1.9 2
Manitoba 3.8 3.5 3.4
Ontario (excl. NCR) 36.2 29.3 22.6
NCR 3.9 27.7 23.1
Quebec (excl. NCR) 21.0 15.9 13.5
New Brunswick 2.0 3.1 2.9
Nova Scotia 2.6 3.5 3
Prince Edward Island 0.4 1.6 6.1
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.4 0.9 0.6
Yukon 0.1 0.1 0.1
Northwest Territories 0.2 0.1 0
Nunavut 0.1 0 0.4
Other N/A 0.5 2.6

Note: These figures include unique applicants to the FSWEP program, therefore these figures will not match the figures reported in the Annual Report.
Source: The PSC’s PSRS
Source for Canadian population: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 051-0001 and Table 051-0046 for the NCR

SEP Hiring Trends

Table 14: Geographic distribution of SEP hires, compared to population under the PSEA, as of March 31, 2013
Geographic area Population
under the
PSEA %
FSWEP hires
%
CO-OP hires
%
RAP hires
%
British Columbia 8.8 4.3 11.3 3.1
Alberta 5.3 5.0 4.6 7.9
Saskatchewan 2.5 4.6 1.9 3.8
Manitoba 3.6 4.2 2.8 7.9
Ontario (excl. NCR) 13.0 16.1 11.6 9.4
NCR 43.9 42.6 55.9 34.3
Quebec (excl.NCR) 11.3 15.0 6.1 17.3
New Brunswick 3.4 2.1 0.9 5.7
Nova Scotia 4.7 3.1 3.0 1.3
Prince Edward Island 0.9 1.5 0.1 5.7
Newfoundland and Labrador 1.6 0.5 1.1 0.9
Yukon 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0
Northwest Territories 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.3
Nunavut 0.1 0.1 0.1 2.5
Outside Canada 0.8 0.8 0.0 0.0
Total 100 100 100 100

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files and population files

Table 15: Geographical representation of the public service student workforce compared to the Canadian population (age group 15 to 29)
Geographic area of
residence
Origins of public service student workforce
2012 - 2013 Footnote(a)
%
2012 Canadian
population,
age group
15 to 29
%
All SEP FSWEP CO-OP RAP
British Columbia 5.9 4.9 10.9 5.9 12.9
Alberta 5.7 5.8 4.1 8.8 12.2
Saskatchewan 4.6 5.4 1.1 4.4 3.4
Manitoba 4.7 5.0 1.9 10.2 3.8
Ontario (excl. NCR) 21.2 21.8 19.7 14.1 36.2
Ontario (incl. NCR) 46.8 44.6 59.5 32.7 39.1
NCR 34.9 32.4 50.2 21.5 3.9
Quebec (excl. NCR) 14.8 16.4 6.7 16.1 21.0
Quebec (incl. NCR) 24.2 25.9 17.2 19.0 22.0
New Brunswick 2.9 2.8 2.1 6.3 2.0
Nova Scotia 3.0 3.2 2.2 2.4 2.6
Prince Edward Island 1.6 1.7 0.2 4.4 0.4
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 1.4
Yukon 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1
Northwest Territories 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.5 0.2
Nunavut 0.1 0.0 0.0 2.0 0.1
Outside Canada 0.2 0.0 0.0 2.9 N/A

Source: PSC hiring and staffing activities files and the PSRS.
Source for Canadian population: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 051-0001 and Table 051-0046 for the NCR.

Appendix E - Other Jurisdictions

The United States post their student jobs on-line, with descriptions of the job. Students are invited to apply directly to positions.

“This Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.”Footnote21

The Internship Program is primarily administered by each hiring agency. Similar to student employment programs (SEP) and the learning plan requirement, “each agency must sign a Participant Agreement with the Intern that sets forth the expectations for the internship.” Similar to the Co-operative and Internship Program and the Research Affiliate Program, the “intern's job will be related to the Intern's academic career goals or field of study.”Footnote22 The Pathways Program offers the “bridging” or conversion option to students if they meet certain criteria.Footnote23 Unlike the SEP, part-time students are eligible to apply to positions, access to jobs can be limited to students living and/or studying in certain states, managers can screen students on their experience (but there is the option of substituting education for experience by submitting transcripts), managers can identify preferred degree categories and students may have to have obtained a minimum grade point average to be considered for employment. The United States previously operated two other types of student employment programs: The Student Career Experience Program (placements linked to the students’ field of study) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (placements not linked to the students’ field of study). These programs were preplaced by the student Pathways program in 2013.

The United Kingdom government offers several options for recruiting and developing students. The Government Economic Service offers two types of student internships: A 12 month sandwich student placement and 6-12 week summer vacation placements. Descriptions of available jobs are posted on-line and students are asked to rank the organizations for which they wish to work. Another option available to students is the Fast Stream program that is a “learning and development program for graduates with the potential to become future leaders of the Civil Service.”Footnote24 The program is for undergraduate or graduate students in either their penultimate or final year at university. The placements lead to permanent employment. “During the first two years, graduates work four different postings, each lasting about six months. They cover at least four of the following areas of activity: Operational delivery, policy development, corporate services, people management, commercial awareness, financial management or project and programme management.”Footnote25 The postings are in more than one department or agency and often take place in different parts of the country.

The government of Australia offers a number of employment/training programs for students. The departmental and agency programs are listed on-line by employment sectorFootnote26 and fall under the categories of cadetship, scholarship and work experience opportunities. An example of a cadetship is the Indigenous Cadetship Program that “provides Indigenous undergraduate students with financial assistance during their studies and practical work experience during their summer breaks. Upon successful completion of their studies, cadets are offered a permanent position in the department.”Footnote27

The Government of Manitoba’s “STEP Services is the official student employment placement service for the Government of Manitoba.”Footnote28  Students must be at least 16 years of age at the time of employment and have attended school the previous term or are currently enrolled. Hiring managers contact STEP Services and request a list of students to interview. Their student database is searched to find students who best match the requirements of the job (work location, specific skills, field of study, etc.). The student jobs vary from entry-level jobs to career-related positions and can work part-time (fall/spring) and full-time (summer) throughout Manitoba in both indoor and outdoor work environments.

The Government of Alberta offers students several options to best fit students’ academic and career goals such as CO-OP practica, work experience placements or student summer employment. “Work experience placements are unpaid job assignments with the Alberta government that allow students to develop workplace skills and learn about working for government. They are a component of various post-secondary or skills training programs and are designed to match a student's area of study with related hands-on experience in the field of their choice.”Footnote29Summer employment “provides students with the opportunity to learn about our organization, develop workplace skills, and gain career related experience.”Footnote30 Hiring managers can recruit students several ways. Options include accessing a centralized student summer resume database, advertising specific summer employment opportunities in the “seasonal” category of the Government of Alberta jobs Web site or posting summer opportunities at educational institutions.

The Government of Ontario offers several paid and unpaid work opportunities to students. Paid summer jobs are posted on the Ontario Public Service (OPS) jobs Web site. There are also co-operative opportunities for post-secondary students who can expect to “receive practical paid experience while earning course credits in placements in the OPS.”Footnote31 The placements are posted at various educational institutions across Ontario. The OPS also operates a Learn and Work Program that is a specialized co-operative education program that re-engages youth ages 16 to 20 from selected priority communities. The program provides students the opportunity to earn credits towards their high school diploma and obtain paid work experience in the OPS and/or related agencies.Footnote32

The Government of Quebec runs a student database that allows departments and agencies to hire students in a random and impartial manner. Selection is based on area of study and job location.

Appendix F - Literature Review

The literature review examined four themes related to student employment programs: Employer branding and recruitment, business process re-engineering, new strategic skills and competencies and demand-driven approaches. The complete literature review is available on request.

Within the theme of employer branding and recruitment, the Policy Research Division of the PSC looked at several approaches and strategies for becoming an employer of choice, such as a number of strategies for improving a public sector brand, including: Increasing the visibility of public sector leaders, encouraging exchanges or secondments between sectors and promoting a commitment to public service values and the common good. PRD’s review also identified effective strategies to enhance related recruitment efforts that could entice potential applicants to become actual applicants, including improving recruiting Web sites, the use of profile matching tools and realistic job previews in connection to an overall talent management strategy. A scan of the recruitment practices of the public services in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia shows the rising use of on-linetechnologies and social media to communicate information, attract potential candidates and promote the benefits of public sector employment, including the opportunity to make a difference.

Within the business process re-engineering theme, PRD examined a number of approaches to screening and selection. To screen applicants, the literature suggests that informative job previews and opportunities for self-assessment can frame realistic expectations and allow potential applicants to determine their interest and appropriateness for a position before they apply. Current assessment strategies, including the use of e-portfolios, e-tray exercises and assessment centres can provide valuable insights into an applicant’s suitability for a particular role. The literature also examines practical strategies for the design and implementation of internship programs. This could help enhance training experiences, including using technologies such as e-portfolios and on-line blogs, treating interns like real employees, providing interns with a rewarding environment and creating intern support groups.

The third part of the literature review summarizes and analyzes current research regarding new skills and competencies, including those required in the labour market of the future, expected imbalances between them, supply and demand in the future labour market and the importance of strategic human resource management. Regarding skills, the literature identifies them as those that employers deem most important (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, professionalism, responsibility and communication) and emerging ones (such as new media literacy skills, virtual skills, cross-cultural competencies, cognitive load management and meta-cognition). Overall, the literature observes that the Canadian labour market is currently facing a number of issues, among them a skills mismatch and greater competition to attract and retain employees with highly sought-after skills. One solution to these problems mentioned in the literature is an integrated approach to human resources management and planning.

The last section of the literature review discusses and analyzes the findings related to higher education, including emerging educational assessment methods and tools and the increasing importance of partnerships between education institutions and employers. The literature review also demonstrates the need for educational institutions to deliver more high-impact learning experiences and ensure that 21st century skills are built into the curriculum. The literature stresses that technologies need to meet the needs of learners and employers. To strengthen collaboration between them, the literature suggests that employers should help design curricula and students should spend some time in a workplace.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

As per the objectives of the Treasury Board’s Student Employment Policy.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

19th Annual Clerk’s Report, http://www.clerk.gc.ca/eng/feature.asp?pageId=300

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

This analysis is based on 49 Business and HR planning documents for 2011-2012. In cases where plans were not available for 2011-2012, plans for 2010-2011 were used.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Labour and Skills Shortages in Canada: Addressing Current and Future Challenges. Ottawa: House of Commons, December 2012, 119 pp.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Eleven Government of Canada departments and agencies are involved in the Youth Employment Strategy. The Youth Employment Strategy is the Government of Canada's commitment to help young people, particularly those facing barriers to employment, obtain the information and gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition into the labour market.

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

2011-12 Human Resources Management Annual Report to Parliament, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

The document Student Employment Programs in the Federal Government does briefly address some PSC responsibilities but creates confusion in how it describes the PSC’s role, as the PSC does not have a recruitment role under the PSEA, despite what the document states.

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

Although hiring managers were identified as having used particular programs, we are not able to ascertain for what types of jobs the students worked when they were not hired through SEP.

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

The Area of Selection Policy does not require part-time student positions to be advertised nationally, but the PSC advertises nationally all RAP positions (part and full-time). (http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/sas-sde/stf-dot/prgrm/rap-par/index-eng.htm).

Return to footnote 9 referrer

Footnote 10

The Deputy Minister University Champion Initiative is aimed at strengthening linkages between the Government of Canada and Canadian universities. The strategy is designed to support robust and relevant public administration education and research so that the federal public service has access to leading ideas and theories, a new generation of public administration scholars and new employees who are well-educated in modern public management. Source: http://www.csps-efpc.gc.ca/forlearners/coursesandprograms/programs/dmuci/index-eng.aspx.

Return to footnote 10 referrer

Footnote 11

Stuart, Anna. Inaccurate Perceptions: The Public Sector Employment Brand. Viewpoint. Halifax: Kinghtsbridge Robertson Surrette, October 2009, 2 pp.

Return to footnote 11 referrer

Footnote 12

Residence data on the University of Ottawa first year students indicated that 89% of students are from Ontario, 9% from outside of Ontario and 2% international (2010-2011).

Return to footnote 12 referrer

Footnote 13

Residence data on Carleton University first year students indicated that that 81% of students are from Ontario, 6% from outside of Ontario and 13% international (2010-2011)

Return to footnote 13 referrer

Footnote 14

Based on the proportion of CO-OP files that could be matched.

Return to footnote 14 referrer

Footnote 15

This figure may be updated with 2013-2014 bridging data and should not be sourced. Figures are based on the percentage of indeterminate appointments from the PSC hiring and staffing activities files matched to the PSC administrative data sources (approximately 80% match).

Return to footnote 15 referrer

Footnote 16

Evans, Jill. "Wider Appeal." People Management (2011): pp. 47-50.

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Footnote 17

Reynolds, Douglas H., and John A. Weiner. Online Recruiting and Selection: Innovations in Talent Acquisition. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell, May 2009, 232 pp.

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Footnote 18

Information regarding the PSC’s EAOs and Regulations is taken from the “Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement” and the “Explanatory note” that accompanied the publication of the PSC’s Regulations and EAO in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2010 in the Canada Gazette. Information regarding TB’s policies is taken from the current policy (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12582&section=text) and as from the PSC’s Regulations Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement of 1997, 1998 and 1999.

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Footnote 19

in 1998, the PSC also introduced another bridging mechanism that allowed organizations to appoint “without competition” from outside the public service, subject to some conditions (e.g., appointments had to be made within an 18-month period after graduation). Under the PSEA (2003), a similar mechanism exists through an external appointment process and no conditions are imposed.

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Footnote 20

Survey of Students, 2013

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Footnote 21

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/students-recent-graduates/#url=Program-Fact-Sheets

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Footnote 22

ibid

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Footnote 23

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/students-recent-graduates/#url=Program-Fact-Sheets

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Footnote 24

http://faststream.civilservice.gov.uk/

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Footnote 25

http://faststream.civilservice.gov.uk/

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Footnote 26

http://www.ausport.gov.au/about/jobs/casual_and_work_experience

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Footnote 27

http://www.dfat.gov.au/jobs/indigenous/#cadets

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Footnote 28

http://www.gov.mb.ca/cyo/studentjobs/

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Footnote 29

https://www.jobs.alberta.ca/students/student_opps.html

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Footnote 30

ibid

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Footnote 31

https://www.gojobs.gov.on.ca/JumpStart.asp#Internships

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Footnote 32

ibid

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(a)

The area of residence refers to the permanent area of residence entered by students in PSRS upon application for unique student hires for FSWEP and RAP; CO-OP information was obtained through the PSC hiring and staffing activities files.

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