Digital Skills for Youth

Program Overview and Application Guide for Employers

About the DS4Y Program

IMAA is excited to offer digital skill-focused internships and artistic residencies once again through the Digital Skills for Youth program. This opportunity supports underemployed youth, and emerging artists through Internship and 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 September 2024 and March 2025, IMAA is offering a minimum of 20 digital skill-focused internships and artistic residencies connecting underemployed youth, including from traditionally underrepresented groups, with employers (Internship Host Organizations). These residencies and internships will provide mentorship and technical support for up to 4 months of employment. This will allow youth and emerging artists to develop or enhance their digital skills and to apply them in combination with soft skills in a professional setting.

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 internship or 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 an internship or residency, including providing training and support to the intern or artist, administering project funds, reporting on the internship or 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 interns or artists. Host organizations, not IMAA, are responsible for advertising opportunities publicly and for recruiting and hiring youth.

Host organizations are strongly encouraged to consider equity and diversity when recruiting, hiring and hosting youth interns and artists. Consideration should be given for participation from the designated groups outlined in the Employment Equity Act — Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, racialized persons, and women — as well as official language minorities, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and youth facing barriers to employment.

Eligible internships and artist residencies must take place in the period between September 1st 2024 and March 31st 2025. 

Eligible activities include:

  •  • Providing youth interns or artists with the necessary equipment, workspace, workplace-related training and mentoring in order to enhance and maximize the internship experience;
  • •  Supporting youth interns or 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.

IMAA is offering two distinct opportunities for Host Organizations under the DS4Y program: 

1. Hosting an Internship:

  • For organizations looking to hire a youth intern for up to 6 months of employment, working on a project directed by the host organization. 
  • Organizations are asked to provide a job description and training plan outlining what their intern will be working on and how they will support the development of the intern's digital and soft skills.
  • Funded internship positions have included roles in IT direction, app development, digital marketing and more. 
  • IMAA does not fund communications positions, projectionist positions, or roles that largely involve sharing prepared content across multiple platforms.

2. Hosting an Artist Residency:

  • For organizations looking to host a youth emerging artist for up to 4 months to develop their digital skills in relation to their artistic practice.
  • Organizations are asked to outline the types of digital skills they can support the artist in developing, and to provide a plan for how they will provide individualized training and mentorship to the selected artist based on their needs and interests.

Artist’s projects may be self-directed so long as they meet the objectives and expected outcomes of the DS4Y program. 

Under the DS4Y program, IMAA will fund up to 100% of internship costs for nonprofit  and for-profit employers, to a maximum of  $22 000 per intern or artist. 

IMAA will reimburse:

  • Salaries and benefits for the intern or artist (please note that IMAA expects employers to pay, at a minimum, a living wage)
  • Training costs related to youth upskilling, to a maximum of $3,000 including taxes per intern or artist
  • Costs necessary to execute the internship or artist residency (e.g. security and safety equipment, disability accommodations, etc.). These costs will  be assessed on a case by case basis once the participant has been selected.

The following expenses are not eligible for reimbursement:

  • Salaries or honoraria for non-intern or 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 (35%)
  • Strength of recruitment process, including inclusivity of underrepresented groups (25%)
  • Strength of proposed training plan (20%)
  • Regional and sectoral impact (20%)





The next deadline for applications is July 2nd, 2024 at midnight PT.

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


May 21st, 2024: Application process opens

May 30th, 2024 at 1:30 p.m. (ET): Discord information session - Come and ask us your questions!

July 2nd, 2024: Deadline for applicants to submit applications 

July 29th, 2024: Notification of results

September 1st, 2024: Earliest anticipated start date for internships and residencies

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.

Prospective applicants are invited to book individual information sessions to discuss any questions they have about the application process or eligibility requirements. If you would like to discuss your application in more detail, book a meeting here.