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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/medium business or a not-for-profit (under 500 employees) looking for interns; please connect with relevant DS4Y Delivery Organizations.
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/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 all of the following criteria at the beginning of the internship:

  • aged between 15 and 30 years (inclusive);
  • a post-secondary graduate1 (this is not required for participants who live in Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut);
  • 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, hold part-time employment, or unemployed.

1 Post-secondary can also include designated education institutions, such as technical or vocational schools.

What is the value of the internship?

Up to $30,000 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 skills1. By taking courses, interns will gain new knowledge and skills that will help them complete their internship and find career-orientated employment. Training should take place during the internship period. Each intern is eligible to receive up to $4,000 for training.

1 Soft skills necessary to prepare for employment include 21st century skills and competencies research has identified as useful in preparing for employment, including but not limited to: Self-motivation, perseverance and task persistence; Self-promotion and marketing skills; Goal-setting, time management and planning; Interviewing skills, Resume writing skills and Networking skills; and Financial literacy

What are the eligible requirements 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 may include:

  • For-profit organizations;
  • 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);
  • Public health and educational institutions; and,
  • Provincial and territorial governments, institutions, agencies and Crown Corporations.

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.

Selected DS4Y recipients

Which organizations have been selected to deliver the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program?

The list of successful delivery organizations is now available on the DS4Y website. Employers looking for interns should contact a delivery organization.

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.

Use of funding

What is the maximum per internship amount supported by ISED?

The total ISED contribution per internship is limited to $30,000 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 $30,000 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.

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