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Newfoundland and Labrador interested in Digital Skills for Youth

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Change in federal programming leads to shift at provincial level

There is a curious line in the breakdown of departmental spending in the 2018-19 budget information for Newfoundland and Labrador, under the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the heading “Youth Interns.”

In 2017-18, the province budgeted $414,000, for delivery of the former federal Youth Internship Program, but nothing was spent.

The provincial Education department was involved in delivering the program since 1998. The federally funded program offered youth work placements, generally at locations that had been supported with funding under the former Community Access Program for public internet access. Those locations included schools, libraries and community centres (CAP funding was cut in the spring of 2012, but the old internship program remained).

Money didn’t flow through the province for the Youth Internship Program last year, because the program was being wrapped up by the Government of Canada.

But the feds have since introduced a new Digital Skills for Youth program. It’s something the province is interested in, and has budgeted for participation in, in 2018-19 (just under $400,000).

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador was invited to apply for funding under the new skills program, with a deadline of Jan. 5. It did, and is waiting to receive word on its application.

The new program is expected to help support underemployed graduates in improving their digital skills, offering additional early work experience for new graduates through internships.

It is open to applications from governments and non-profits, but also for-profit employers, providing a share of the funding for the approved intern salaries.

Given the focus on new graduates, the provincial Department of Advanced Education and Skills was determined to be the best option for handling the province’s participation, versus the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, according to information provided this week to The Telegram.

The Digital Skills for Youth program is just one part of Canada’s multi-program Youth Employment Strategy (YES). It also includes, for example, the International Youth Internship Program, supporting international life and job experiences for recent Canadian post-secondary graduates.

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