Frequently asked questions: Digital Skills for Youth

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

About the program

How can we get Involved?

If you are a prospective:

  • Intern; If you are a post-secondary graduate looking for an internship, please review the Internship opportunities available through the DS4Y Delivery Organizations.
  • Employer; If you are a small or medium Business (under 500 employees), or not-for-profit looking for interns; please connect with relevant DS4Y Delivery Organizations
  • Delivery Organization; if you are an organization able to connect post-secondary graduates with high quality internships in small or medium businesses or not-for-profit organizations, you can apply to the 2019 Competition.
Why is the Government of Canada funding internships?

The Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) internship program aims to equip underemployed post-secondary graduates with valuable training and work experience related to digital skills that will help them improve their employability so that they can succeed in the digital economy.

DS4Y opportunities aim to prepare youth to adapt to the major changes projected in tomorrow’s digital workplace, including emerging areas where the jobs may not yet exist such as those related to cyber security, the automation of knowledge tasks, big data, and artificial intelligence, among others.

How is DS4Y related to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy?

Through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS), the Government of Canada helps youth make a successful transition to the workplace. DS4Y contributes to the YESS programming by supporting youth who are more or less job-ready but who may require a first employment experience through wage-subsidy opportunities, and skill development to enter and succeed in the labour market.

How is DS4Y administered?

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) launches competitions for Delivery Organizations to submit applications to help deliver the program. Successful Delivery Organizations recruit post-secondary graduates and connect them with meaningful digital internships within small or medium businesses, or within not-for-profit organizations. The Delivery Organizations ensure that interns gain valuable work experience and have access to training.

What are the eligible requirements for a youth to participate in the program?

To be eligible for DS4Y, interns must meet the following criteria:

  • post-secondary graduates, who are up to 30 years, or younger, at the start of the internship;
  • legally entitled to work in Canada (i.e. Canadian citizen, permanent Resident or person who has been granted refugee status); and,
  • self-assess as underemployed, meaning they are employed below their level of education, outside their field of study, or hold part-time employment.

In the north (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), eligible participants may be youth between 15 to 30 (inclusive) years who are legally entitled to work in Canada and self-assess as under-employed.

What is the value of the internship?

Up to $20,000 in wage subsidy and Mandatory Employment Related Costs (MERCS), with an Employer match at 50% from for-profit organizations, and a 25% match for not-for-profit organizations.

Does DS4Y include training?

In addition to on-the-job training, DS4Y allows interns to participate in short-term courses to enhance their digital and soft skills, such as communications. By taking courses, interns will gain new knowledge and skills that will help them complete their internship and find career-orientated employment. Each intern is eligible to receive up to $4000 for training.

What are the eligible requirement for Employers to participate?

The Employers are those organizations with legal status in Canada that have the capacity to offer internships including training and support. For the purpose of this program, Employers are not-for-profit and for-profit organizations with up to 500 employees.

Employers must:

  • have the appropriate administrative support and capacity to train and mentor the participants to enhance and maximize the participants' experience; and,
  • support the participants in the development and implementation of work activities to provide participants with a meaningful internship described in the key performance indicators.

2019 DS4Y competitions

What are the eligible requirements for Delivery Organizations to participate?

Delivery Organizations are entities legally incorporated or registered in Canada and may include:

  • Not-for-profit organizations (including voluntary organizations, community organizations, public libraries and foundations)
  • Municipal governments
  • Indigenous organizations (including band councils, tribal councils and self-government entities)
  • For-profit organizations
  • Public health and educational institutions
  • Provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations
Can current DS4Y recipients apply to this second competition?

Yes, organizations funded under the first competition can apply to this second competition. The proposal should identify how this second proposal builds on the successes and lessons learned of the previous two years and whether the program is being expanded.

What is the budget for this competition?

This competition will make approximately $20 million available over the next two years to fund Delivery Organization(s) that can recruit and connect post-secondary graduates with high quality internship opportunities. The Delivery Organization must demonstrate that they have a strong network of small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organizations ready to provide internships that allow the youth to enhance their digital skills, and help them prepare and adapt to tomorrow’s workforce.

How will projects be selected for funding?

ISED will review applications against program criteria for funding.

How to Apply?

The 2019 DS4Y Competition has 2 phases, the Notice of Intent (NOI) and the full application. The NOI will not be used for evaluation purposes. It will be used to aid with recruitment of assessors and for administrative purposes.

When will applicants be notified of the results from the Full Application?

ISED will advise applicants as soon as possible. The competition should be completed no later than Spring 2020.

What duration and level of funding can be requested by applicants?

There is no prescribed maximum budget per organization as one Delivery Organization could potentially receive the entire allocated amount if they show they can deliver the program nationally. Awards from this competition will have a duration of up to two years.

When do you expect the next call for Delivery Organizations to be launched?

Competitions are scheduled as funding becomes available. At this time there are no future competitions scheduled.

Application development

Can certain sections of the application be eliminated, or put in a different order than in the competition guide?

All sections of the application form should be completed as prescribed in the Competition Guide.

How important is the Employer Network?

A strong network of employers to create high quality internships for post-secondary graduates is a key feature of the program. It is important that the Delivery Organizations demonstrate that they have a network of partners ready to help them prepare youth for the evolving digital workplace.

Delivery Organizations should have a number of employers engaged at the time the full application is submitted. An evaluation criteria is the strength of the organization’s network of small and medium business or not-for-profits. Letters of support from employers are required to meet this criteria.

Are there expectations as to the number of employers that should be involved, and should there be opportunities across the country?

There are no guidelines on the number of employers participating. There is, however, an expectation that the employers engaged are those that will enable the recipient organization to reach its goals. There is no requirement for representation across Canada; however, the portfolio of DS4Y Delivery Organizations, as a whole, is expected to have a national reach.

What is required in the letters of support at the full application stage?

All letters should come from a senior executive, and strong letters will make specific commitments, in terms of the number of interns they could support and the type of work they will undertake during the internship.

Use of funding

Can the budget/financial plan presented in the NOI change?

The financial ask should be similar to the ask projected in the NOI stage; however, the financial plan details and budget can be altered if required.

What is the maximum per internship amount supported by ISED?

The total ISED contribution per internship is limited to $20,000 inclusive of the wage subsidy and all associated costs, including training. The total contribution per internship also includes administrative costs incurred by the Delivery organization.

The total amount per internship available for digital and soft-skills training is limited to $4,000 inclusive of taxes.

How does cost-sharing work?

Up to $20,000 in wage subsidy and Mandatory Employment Related Costs (MERCS), with an Employer match at 50% from for-profit organizations, and a 25% match for not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations, municipal governments, public health and educational institutions, provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations.

What kind of expenses are considered administrative?

Administrative costs of Delivery Organizations will be limited to a maximum of 15% of the Contribution. Administrative costs include overhead costs, staff wages (including training and professional development costs), operational costs, travel and other professional fees.

Does the 15% cap on administration apply to each year, or the full term of the contribution?

The 15% administration cap applies to the full term of the contribution agreement. Example: If an organization received, a 2-year agreement valued at $100K ($50K per year) the maximum administrative cost they could claim would be $15K.

Selected DS4Y recipients

Once the projects are selected, what are the next steps?

Once projects are selected for funding, contribution agreements will be negotiated between successful Delivery organizations and ISED. Once agreements are signed, projects will be publicly announced by ISED.

How will the projects be monitored?

Similar to other grants and contributions programs managed by the federal government, the program will have a project management framework with a number of control mechanisms (i.e., regular quarterly reporting due at the end of June, September, December, March and the final report at the end of the program) that will allow for tracking of project progress and funding throughout the project lifecycle.

What is considered an eligible activity under this program?

Eligible Activities – Delivery Organizations

  1. Engaging Canadian youth in the development and enhancement of digital skills, including upskilling in cooperation with interns and employers;
  2. Activities related to promoting the program and partner outreach;
  3. Acting as the coordinating body to manage a network of employers for the purpose of providing them with program funding and program oversight, monitoring and support, ensuring:
    • Timely and accurate reporting;
    • Internships aligned with DS4Y goals; and
    • That Employers provide interns with the necessary equipment, workspace, workplace-related training and mentoring to fulfill their internship duties and obligations.
  4. Developing and implementing an open, fair and transparent application process that is in accordance with their contribution agreement with ISED, to engage Employers and to ensure an optimal allocation of youth participants amongst them;
  5. Collaborating with training service providers that will deliver upskilling opportunities for interns when needed.

Eligible Activities - Employers

The eligible activities by Employers will be activities that allow youth to acquire new and enhance existing digital skills and apply them in combination with soft skills, so that they can successfully transition into the labour market, and include:

  1. Providing interns with the necessary equipment, workspace, workplace-related training and mentoring to enhance and maximize their experience and fulfill their internship duties and obligations;
  2. Supporting interns in the development and implementation of work activities to provide them with meaningful work experience and enhance their employability.
Is the program a grant or a contribution?

The Program is a non-repayable contribution program where eligible costs are subject to performance conditions which are specified in a contribution agreement.

How will funding be disbursed?

Funding will be distributed through claims for reimbursement of eligible costs incurred as outlined in a contribution agreement.

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