Digital Skills for Youth

Program Overview and Application Guide for Employers

About the DS4Y Program

For the first time, since it’s begun working with the Digital Skills for Youth program, IMAA is excited to be able to offer digital skill-focused artistic residencies! 

This opportunity, under the existing DS4Y program, specifically supports emerging youth artists through Artist in Residence roles at eligible internship host organizations. 

Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) is a program funded by the Government of Canada which aims to help underemployed youth enhance and develop their digital and soft skills. The program combines valuable work experience with digital skills training, allowing participating youth to advance their digital skills and secure their success in the digital economy.

Between January 2023 and March 2023, IMAA is offering a minimum of 11 digital skill-focused artistic residencies connecting underemployed youth, including from traditionally underrepresented groups, with employers (Internship Host Organizations). These residencies will provide mentorship and technical support for up to 2 months of open-ended artistic exploration. This will allow emerging artists to develop or enhance their digital skills and to apply them in combination with soft skills to their developing artistic practice.

Objectives and Expected Outcomes

The DS4Y program allows participating youth to develop their digital skills and soft skills, apply these skills in a work setting, and enhance their future employability in a digital-focused labour market.

DS4Y benefits participating employers by increasing the supply of highly qualified young people with a focus on knowledge economy related skills. It builds employers’ overall capacity in digital domains and advances their own digitally-focused projects and activities. 

Examples of digital skills to be developed through these internships include: software/app development, web development, 3D fabrication or modeling, video game design, network systems administration, adaptive technologies, web-based learning, physical computing, VR/AR/XR, immersive technologies, video mapping, video on demand, metadata/discoverability, database optimization, machine learning, interactive technology, etc.

To apply to host an artist residency, you must be a Canadian small or medium business or a non-profit organization with no more than 500 employees. You must have the capacity to host a residency, including providing training and support to the artist, administering project funds, reporting on the residency and fulfilling all other obligations under the program. Please refer to the Assessment Criteria for more information about how host organizations will be selected.

Artists in Residence hired under DS4Y must:

  • - Be between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the residency;
  • - Be legally entitled to work in Canada (either a citizen, permanent resident or person with refugee status);
  • - Self-identify as underemployed (i.e. employed below their level of education, holding part-time employment, or in emerging fields with few jobs);
  • - Have completed post-secondary studies (exception: interns located in Nunavut, Yukon or NWT are not required to meet this criterion);
  • - Have no immediate family relationship with the employer.

Please note that IMAA is not accepting applications directly from prospective youth artists. Host organizations, not IMAA, are responsible for advertising artist residency opportunities publicly and for recruiting and hiring artists.

Host organizations are strongly encouraged to consider equity and diversity when recruiting, hiring and hosting youth artists. Consideration should be given for participation from the following designated groups: Indigenous people, official language minorities, persons with disabilities, racialized persons and women.

Eligible artist residencies must take place in the period between January 1st 2023 and March 31st 2023. 

Eligible activities include:

  • - Providing youth artists with the necessary equipment, workspace, workplace-related training and mentoring in order to enhance and maximize the internship experience;
  • - Supporting youth artists in the development and implementation of work activities to provide participants with meaningful work experience and enhance their employability.
  • - Employment and training must develop and enhance skills in digital domains, for example: software/app development, web development, 3D fabrication or modelling, video game design, network systems administration, adaptive technologies, web-based learning, physical computing, VR/AR/XR, immersive technologies, video mapping, video on demand, metadata/discoverability, database optimization, machine learning, interactive technology, etc. 

Under the DS4Y program, IMAA will fund up to 75% of artist residency costs for for-profit employers, and up to 100% of internship costs for nonprofit employers, to a maximum of $12 000 per artist. 

IMAA will reimburse:

  • - Salaries and benefits for artist
  • - Training costs related to youth upskilling, to a maximum of $4,000 including taxes per artist
  • - Costs necessary to execute the internship (e.g. security and safety equipment, disability accommodations, etc.). These costs will  be assessed once the participant has been selected.

The following expenses are not eligible for reimbursement:

  • - Salaries or honoraria for non-artist staff (except for time specifically devoted to training and mentoring)
  • - Equipment costs, office supplies, or telecommunications fees incurred by the host organization
  • - Administrative costs

Applications from prospective host organizations will be assessed by a panel of arts professionals selected by IMAA. The following criteria will be used to assess and select applications:

  • - Value of work experience offered to the artist (35%)
  • - Strength of recruitment process, including inclusivity of underrepresented groups (25%)
  • - Strength of proposed training plan (20%)
  • - Regional and sectoral impact (20%)

Complete your application online and submit it before the deadline.

The next deadline for applications is December 13th 2022 at midnight PT.

Applicants will receive results by email 4-6 weeks following the deadline.

For More Information
If you have specific questions about the program or have any access needs to complete your application, please write to Lindsey Wilson, DS4Y Program Manager at for further details, or book a meeting here.