Canadian tech education provider Lighthouse Labs announced last week its participation in the government-led Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program. 

The DS4Y program supports delivery organizations – with a network of SMBs – with under 500 employees and not-for-profit organizations (i.e. employers) that can create employment opportunities for youth to build the digital skills needed for the evolving digital economy. The program contributes to the larger Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) by supporting youth who are job-ready but may need first work experience to enter and succeed in the labour market.

As a part of this program, Lighthouse Labs will serve as a delivery organization, working towards filling over 200 youth intern positions across Canada through wage subsidies and job placement services for organizations looking to grow their digital and online activities. These placements can be in any type of digital field, such as software, app development, data processing and network support. 

“We’re really targeting small Canadian businesses in Canada and they have to be willing to offer a paid placement for up to six months. This would need to end by March 31 of 2021,” Stephanie Wilson, director of government relations at Lighthouse Labs, told IT World Canada in an interview. 

Lighthouse Labs will provide on-the-job training to new hires throughout their placements, Wilson added.

“The DS4Y program covers $3,000 for both technical and soft skills training for the newly hired intern. This can be everything from professional development workshops and online training to soft skills training around communication, problem-solving or teamwork. We will work with the individual company and the intern to identify the training plan and the learning plan that’s needed for that intern. We’ve got some templates, but we want to make sure that it meets the needs of the individual employer and the person they’ve hired,” she explained. 

Wilson says Lighthouse Labs is also making sure that these organizations are also willing to create a learning plan in order to be able to identify skills and areas for development for the youth, and provide some time for them to participate in upskilling activities.

“If an employer doesn’t have the knowledge and experience in developing a learning plan, that’s definitely something that we can help them with. We’re also providing information around onboarding and online platforms that can help employers to onboard and support the youth intern over those six months,” Wilson said.

For youth, eligibility means that they are a post-secondary graduate who’s 30 years of age or younger at the start of the internship, legally entitled to work in Canada, and have to self assess as unemployed or underemployed. 

“That’s really important for us because it means they’re employed below their level of education, or they hold part-time employment as we really want to help them with their careers,” said Wilson. 

There are 230 interim youth intern spots and Lighthouse Labs is working with post-secondary schools across Canada to understand their alumni and employer network in an attempt to make sure that as many youths have the opportunity as possible. “I think there will be over 150 organizations that would have signed on for this at the end,” Wilson said.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Government of Canada to subsidize the cost of talent for organizations, while providing new graduates with the tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing job market,” said Jeremy Shaki, co-founder and chief executive officer of Lighthouse Labs, in a recent press release. “In today’s digital economy, it’s more important than ever to help organizations create new jobs in emerging areas.”

“Our government is working hard to ensure our youth have the skills they need to succeed in today’s digital economy. This has become even more important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where large sections of society are forced to work online,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and industry. “The Digital Skills for Youth program will help participants gain real-life experience and valuable skills to contribute to future employers who are striving to innovate and succeed in an ever-changing landscape.”