New government funds now available for hiring youth – with July 26 deadline

Elliot Schiller.

Here, Elliot Schiller, Graphic Arts Magazine government funding columnist and a Director at Toronto’s Teeger Schiller Incorporated (a firm specializing in government funding and systems selection and implementation), examines the recently announced Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) Program. His clients receive over $5 million annually to support ongoing business innovation. Please e-mail, visit or phone 1-888-816-0222, extension 102.

Do you have a big idea that needs funding to make it cost-justifiable? The federal government recently announced the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) – a new, integrated strategy that provides flexible and holistic services to support all young Canadians in developing skills and gaining paid-work experience to successfully transition into the labour market. The YESS has been redesigned to respond to a range of labour-market challenges faced by today’s youth, particularly for those facing barriers to employment. The Skills Link, Career Focus and Summer Work Experience (excluding Canada Summer Jobs) programs that were previously under the Youth Employment Strategy umbrella have been merged into one integrated strategy. What’s the catch? The deadline date for submitting proposals is Friday, July 26, 2019. Projects may start as early as April 1, 2020.

If you’ve got that winning idea in your head and you’re ready to proceed, the YESS program has put aside up to $600 million in total funding to help companies deliver a range of activities that help youth overcome barriers to employment and develop a broad range of skills and knowledge to participate in the current and future labour market. Support will be specifically tailored to the needs of young people who are facing barriers to employment opportunities. They include those who are early leavers from high school, recent immigrant youth, youth from visible minority groups, young people living with disabilities, single-parent youth and young people living in low-income households, youth experiencing homelessness or precarious housing, and youth living in rural or remote areas.

For these young people, barriers often intersect and they’re more likely to be among the youth population who are involuntarily not in employment, education or training (i.e. NEET). Acknowledging that some Indigenous youth face unique circumstances, the YESS is designed to maximize opportunities for them, including more culturally-specific supports and services. The YESS program also encourages collaborations and innovation to increase capacity across the youth-service provider network (e.g. employers, service-delivery organizations and educational institutions), to better support youth and to help employers hire and retain them – in particular those who face barriers.

Proposals could include the following:

  • Activities designed to enable stakeholders to develop and plan eligible projects.
  • Activities that support the development and use of tools and products for learning, skills development, career planning and career development.
  • Service activities that include (but are not limited to) outreach, client assessment, case management, career development information, and job search and job retention assistance.
  • Activities designed to enable youth to acquire and enhance skills which include (but are not limited to) pre-employability skills, employability skills and advanced employability skills.
  • Activities designed to provide work experiences.
  • Activities designed to provide mentoring and coaching.
  • Activities designed to help youth entrepreneurs gain self-employment.
  • Activities that support youth in making informed career decisions, promote the value of education, and promote youth as the labour force of the future.
  • Activities designed to support research and innovative projects to identify better ways of helping youth prepare for, return to, and keep employment – and to be productive participants in the labour force.
  • Activities related to measuring and articulating the impact of the program, including experimentation.
  • Activities to support employers in hiring or retaining youth facing barriers.
  • Activities designed to build better linkages between organizations (e.g. by linking employers, service providers, unions, industry associations, educational institutions, and other levels of government) for the benefit of youth.
  • Culturally-appropriate Indigenous supports such as access and networks to Indigenous social services (e.g. healing centers, counseling, healthcare, shelters, resource centers and restorative justice).
  • Activities associated with meeting the reporting requirements of the YESS program.
  • Other activities that support the objectives of the YESS program.

As this is a competitive process, not all applications submitted under this “Call for Proposals” will be selected. Also, funding is limited and subject to Employment and Social Development Canada’s yearly budget considerations and allocation of funds by Parliament.

To learn more about this program, including details about eligibility, the application process, how your proposal will be evaluated, and how to apply, please go to



Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.