Backgrounder - Youth Employment Strategy & Skills Link program


Youth Employment Strategy

Launched in 1997, the Youth Employment Strategy (YES) is the Government of Canada’s commitment to help youth make a successful transition to the workplace. The YES helps youth between the ages of 15 to 30 get the information and gain the skills, job experience and abilities they need to make a successful transition to the workforce. YES includes three complementary program streams—Skills Link, Career Focus and Summer Work Experience­—and is delivered by 11 federal departments and agencies.

  • Skills Link helps youth facing barriers to employment—including single parents, youth with disabilities, Indigenous youth, young newcomers and youth in rural and remote areas—to develop employability skills and gain experience they need to find a job or return to school.
  • Career Focus helps post-secondary graduates transition to the labour market through paid internships and helps provide youth with the information and experience they need to make informed career decisions, find a job and/or pursue advanced studies.
  • Summer Work Experience provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students. The Summer Work Experience program includes Canada Summer Jobs.

Each year, the Government invests approximately $330 million in the YES to help young people gain the skills, abilities and work experience they need to find and keep good jobs.

Budget 2016 invested an additional $278.4 million in 2016–17 in the YES to:

  • create new green jobs for youth;
  • increase the number of youth who access the Skills Link program, which helps young Canadians overcome barriers to employment;
  • support employment opportunities in the heritage sector under the Young Canada Works program; and
  • increase the number of jobs for students under the  Canada Summer Jobs program.

Skills Link program

The Skills Link program is a component of the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy. It promotes education and skills as being key to labour market participation. Through funding for organizations, the Skills Link program helps youth develop a broad range of skills and knowledge in order to participate in the current and future labour market and to overcome barriers to employment. These barriers include, but are not limited to, challenges faced by recent immigrant youth, youth with disabilities, single parent youth, youth who have not completed high school, Indigenous youth, and youth living in rural or remote areas.

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