Youth Job Link

Addendum to Employment Service Guidelines

Effective April 1, 2016


Purpose of the Document

This document is introduced as an addendum to the Employment Service (ES) Service Provider Guidelines currently posted on the Employment Ontario Partners’ Gateway (EOPG).  It outlines specific guidelines/policies related to YJL. These guidelines are a resource to help service providers deliver Youth Job Link.  Service Provider Agreements set out the legal responsibility for service delivery, and their provisions prevail.  These guidelines are subject to change. 

Program Context

Youth Employment Programming

Youth unemployment is a complex issue, with many dimensions.  The recent economic downturn left many young people unemployed or underemployed.  The diversity of Ontario’s youth and their employment needs requires a comprehensive range of services. This includes providing young people with career development supports and assistance with accessing employment opportunities, including summer jobs and part-time employment during the school year.

Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy

In Budget 2013, the Ontario government announced the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy (OYJS) to support job opportunities for young people with investments totalling $295 million over two years. 

The Youth Employment Fund (YEF) was a key part of the strategy that created employment opportunities for over 29,000 youth. The YEF created employment opportunities for populations with high youth unemployment, by providing financial support for training and Employer Incentives for job placements.

Building on its initial successes, Ontario Budget 2015 announced an extension of the OYJS, with an additional $250 million over two years to support new youth employment programming. As part of the strategy, Budget 2015 announced two new youth programs:

  • Youth Job Connection: an intensive employment support program to help youth who experience multiple barriers to employment; and,
  • Youth Job Link: serving youth with fewer barriers to employment through access to job search resources and information, and employment opportunities. 



Youth Job Link is available to all eligible youth, including students, focusing on those who face few barriers to employment (i.e.; youth who are self-motivated, self-directed and require minimal assistance finding employment). The program offers a range of non-intensive “light touch” employment services that offer young people an opportunity to gain career management skills, exposure to career exploration activities, and assistance with finding employment, including summer jobs and part-time employment during the school year.


The program is guided by principles that specifically contribute to a young person’s positive employment outcomes, in addition to the Employment Ontario service delivery principles. 

Youth employment programming, including Youth Job Link services:

  • Recognize the diversity of young people’s identities and employment needs. Service providers must be flexible and responsive to the specific employment needs of individual youth.
  • Must be accessible to all young people regardless of gender, race, age, class, sexuality, disability, urban/rural location, Aboriginal identity and other social factors.
  • Apply a holistic approach to youth employment programming. Young people need a comprehensive range of programs and services to help them to return to school, further their education, or fully participate in the labour market.
  • Engage community partners and develop collaborations. Effective programs draw on key partners, including local employers, not-for-profit and volunteer organizations, schools and youth agencies, caring adults, and youth themselves. All of these resources help expose young people to different careers, work environments, and employment opportunities.


Youth Job Link is designed to provide youth, including students, between the ages of 15 and 29 who face few barriers to employment with access to non-intensive employment and career resources and information. The goals are to:

  • Make employment connections between youth and employers;
  • Provide opportunities to gain career management, job search and job readiness skills; and,
  • Create awareness of potential career options and pathways.


Youth Job Link will provide youth, including students, with: 

  • Career exploration services to increase their knowledge of career options and provide job search assistance;
  • Career management services to improve their readiness for the labour market and their ability to foresee, anticipate and adapt to labour market change; and,
  • Job search, readiness and matching assistance to connect them with employers offering employment opportunities, including summer jobs. 

Youth Job Link will also support employers by connecting them to youth seeking employment opportunities. 

Components of Youth Job Link

Youth Job Link comprises three program components:

  • Career Exploration
  • Career Management
  • Job Search, Readiness and Matching

While service providers must deliver all Youth Job Link program components, youth participation in each service is entirely optional and based on need. Youth Job Link services are non-intensive and do not require case management of the youth accessing them.  Service providers must, however, triage the needs of youth and employers and make referrals to other programs and services where appropriate (e.g. youth requiring more intensive services then what is available within Youth Job Link can be referred to the Employment Service, Youth Job Connection, or other EO and non-EO programs).

Career Exploration

Career exploration services are short-duration workshops (less than two days in duration) delivered online or in-person, and individually or in a group setting, to provide youth with increased knowledge of employment and career options and the labour market.

Activities must include, but are not limited to:

  • vocational interests, aptitudes and abilities exploration;
  • linking interests, aptitudes and abilities to appropriate jobs;
  • lifestyle goals and how it relates to selected occupations;
  • discovering educational and career paths for a selected occupation, including apprenticeships leading to skilled trades;
  • selecting an immediate job goal; and,
  • understanding the conditions and specifications of jobs.

Career Management

Career management services are short-duration workshops (less than two days in duration) delivered online or in-person and individually or in a group setting, to provide youth with the personal management, learning and work exploration, and life and work decision-making skills needed to adapt to a changing labour market. 

Activities must include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal management skills
  • positive attitude, self-awareness and workplace expectations;
  • social media profiles and online presence;
  • flexibility and adaptability on the job; and,
  • budgeting.
  • Learning and work exploration
  • value of lifelong learning;
  • understanding and using local labour market information;
  • effective job search methods, including personal branding; and,
  • developing networking skills to identify job opportunities that may not yet be identified as jobs.
  • Life and work decision-making
  • balancing career and employment decision-making with life goals; and,
  • achieving work-life balance.

Job Search, Readiness and Matching

Job search and readiness services are short-duration workshops (less than two days in duration) delivered online or in-person and individually or in a group setting, to provide youth with the skills to conduct an independent job search and provide on-the-job skills to effectively integrate into the workforce.    

Activities must include, but are not limited to: 

Job Search:

  • Constructing a resume;
  • Conducting a job search;
  • Completing job application forms;
  • Practice and training on job and information interview skills; and,
  • Assistance with online applications and web-based job search.

Job Readiness:

  • Information and training on employment standards and health and safety in the workplace (can include training such as Smart Serve and food handling);
  • Customer service and team work skills;
  • Dealing with authority, conflict resolution; and,
  • Understanding unionized jobs and workplaces.

Job Matching:

Through job matching, service providers must connect youth with employment opportunities in the community and assist employers with addressing their workforce needs. 

Service providers are required to provide the following job matching services to youth:

  • Basic client triage focused on identifying the youth’s employment-related interests and skills;
  • Generating job leads, based on identified interests and skills;
  • Supporting the youth, as needed, with completing applications, submitting resumes and interview skills; and,
  • Workplace safety information, including rights and responsibilities of individuals. For example: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB), Employment Standards, Occupational Health and Safety, Ontario Human Rights Code, etc.

Service providers are also required to provide the following services to employers:

  • Advertise employment opportunities;
  • Assist with the identification of potentially suitable clients for job vacancies; and,
  • Workplace safety information, including rights and responsibilities of individuals. For example: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB), Employment Standards, Occupational Health and Safety and Ontario Human Rights Code.



Youth, including students who are between the ages of 15-29 at the time of registration for services are eligible for Youth Job Link. Youth accessing job matching services must also reside in Ontario and be eligible to work in Canada.

Service providers must deliver services to youth ages 15-17 in compliance with the Education Act. The Education Act requires young people under 18 to be in school unless legally excused. During the school year, service providers must ensure that individuals who are under 18 years of age are participating in services outside of school hours, or, have been excused from attending school. This means that the individual either has graduated or is participating in a Supervised Alternative Learning program (see s.21 of the Education Act and Supervised Alternative Learning: Policy and Implementation, 2010).

Eligibility for Employers

Youth Job Link job matching services are available to all employers.


Youth Job Link will be delivered by service providers within the Employment Service network. Youth Job Link workshops must be developed and delivered with a youth focus (i.e.; in a manner that distinguishes the unique needs of youth from other age demographics).  Youth Job Link can be delivered using a combination of virtual (i.e.; web-based) and in-person resources and may be provided through itinerant or mobile services, which can be effective for rural and remote communities.

Service providers must offer services during hours that meet the needs of the student population, this may include opening in the evening and on weekends. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Service providers

Service providers receive funding to deliver the program in accordance with the transfer payment agreement, program guidelines, and relevant performance and audit an accountability requirements and standards.

Service providers must:

  • Conduct community outreach, and make necessary linkages with employers, schools, youth and other community groups to build awareness of the program;
  • Provide career exploration, career management and job search, readiness and matching services, based on the needs of youth accessing the program;
  • Provide referrals for youth requiring additional or different services (e.g.; human and social services, more intensive employment or skills training services) to other service providers as appropriate; 
  • Manage the program’s “flow-through” funds, which includes Individual-focused Employment Supports and Employer Incentives;
  • Enter individual and employer information related to access of Individual-focused Employment Supports and Employer Incentives, using the Employment Ontario Information System-Case Management System (EOIS-CaMS) or other systems, as determined by the Ministry;
  • Collect and report on program data as requested by the Ministry.

Partnership Development

Service providers are strongly encouraged to develop partnerships with other youth-serving community or social service agencies, local schools, or school boards. Partnerships enable service providers to maximize existing local services, enhancing local service coordination.


The Ministry establishes the program and service delivery requirements, and provides funding for the program.  The Ministry:

  • sets program policy, designs the services and provides program guidance;
  • selects the service providers and negotiates service transfer payment agreements;
  • develops reporting requirements and tools;
  • establishes service delivery and performance expectations;
  • determines service levels and the funding model, and makes funding decisions;
  • monitors and evaluates delivery performance against transfer payment agreement commitments;
  • monitors compliance with transfer payment agreement; and
  • undertakes program reviews, and determines data collection requirements.


 The Ministry provides funding under two categories:

  • Operating Funds
  • Financial supports and incentives (i.e. “flow-through” funds)

Operating Funds

Service providers receive operating funds for the day-to-day operational costs for direct delivery of the Youth Job Link program. These costs include:

  • Staff and management salaries, wages and benefits;
  • Hiring and training of staff (including professional development);
  • Marketing (signage, print/web ads, outreach, etc.);
  • Facilities (rent); and
  • Other direct operating expenditures related to program delivery.

Service providers can apply a maximum of 15 per cent of the operating budget to administrative overhead costs.  Administrative overhead costs are costs necessary for operating an organization, but not directly associated with the delivery of Youth Job Link.  For example, this can include a portion of the salaries and benefits of the Executive Director, Information Technology or Human Resources staff who work for the entire organization, but spend a portion of their time dedicated to administrative functions that support the program.

Operating funds cannot be used for termination and severance costs. 

Incentives and Supports

Service providers receive two types of “flow-through” funds:

    • Individual-focused Employment Supports
    • Employer Incentives

Up to $300 is available per participant. This maximum amount can be used for a combination of Individual-focused Employment Supports and Employer Incentives. These funds can only be used for individuals and employers taking part in a paid YJL job match.

Youth Job Link incentives and supports are not intended as entitlements, service providers may exercise their discretion in negotiating incentives and supports for youth and employers, up to a maximum of $300 allowed, based on identified needs.  Although incentives and supports are offered through Youth Job Link, the program does not have a formal job placement component that requires placement agreements between youth and employers. Service providers will be required, however, to document client and employer information for the purposes of distributing incentives and supports funding (see Section 5 for information gathering requirements).

a)       Individual-Focused Employment Supports

Individual-focused Employment Supports are offered as part of Youth Job Link’s Job Matching service and intended for youth who may require additional assistance connecting with a job. Youth who have been matched to an employer by the service provider may access supports to offset work-related costs such as: transportation, work clothing and equipment.

For example:

Dante is a student at the local public college who accessed Youth Job Link in the spring to get assistance with finding a summer job. After participating in a couple of workshops to increase his job search and job readiness skills, Dante worked with the service provider through the job matching service to find a job, based on his skills and interests.

The service provider was successful in matching Dante up with a summer job opportunity with an employer in the hospitality sector. Given the employer’s pay schedule, Dante would be working for an entire month without receiving a paycheque. Through Individual-focused Employment Supports, the service provider was able to provide Dante with a transit pass to help offset his travel costs during the first month of work.


To be eligible for Individual-focused Employment Supports, the youth:

  • Must be between the ages of 15-29, residing in Ontario and eligible to work in Canada (as outlined in Section 2.6.1., eligibility for job matching services); and,
  • Have no previous work experience: the youth has not held a job, where they were put on an employer’s payroll and received wages, for more than one week.

If the employer that the youth is matched with is also receiving a financial incentive related to the match, then the youth must also:

  • Be hired by a person who is not their immediate relative (e.g. son, daughter, spouse, brother, sister); and,
  • Not currently working for the employer applying for the hiring incentive.

Youth Job Link service providers can provide up to $600 to youth with disabilities that require additional employment supports (e.g.; assistive devices and adaptive technologies).  These supports would be in addition to the maximum $300 Individual-focused Employment Supports (for a maximum of up to $900 in support).  Youth would retain purchased assisted devices and/or adaptive technologies.  

b)       Employer Incentives

The Employer Incentives are intended to encourage employers to hire youth identified by the service provider who are unable to make job linkages themselves.  Service providers may negotiate an incentive for the employer to offset costs for on-the-job-training, new employee orientation and other hiring-related costs.  The employer incentives are not a wage subsidy.

To access the YJL Employer Incentives, the employers must:

  • Hire clients identified by the service provider (i.e.; an employer cannot select youth on their own and bring them to service providers for hiring incentives);
  • Be licenced to operate in Ontario and provide employment in Ontario; and,
  • Attest that they:
    • Comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Employment Standards Act;
    • Maintain appropriate Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or private workplace safety insurance coverage;
    • Have adequate third party general liability insurance as advised by its insurance broker; and,
    • Comply with all applicable federal and provincial human rights legislation and regulations, and other relevant standards.

An employer must not:

  • Be a federal, provincial or municipal government and/or agency;
  • Be a designated broader public sector organization, as defined by the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act;
  • Be a district social services administration board established under the District Social Services Administration Boards Act, notwithstanding their exclusion under the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act;
  • Be an Employment Service provider;
  • Be currently in receipt of other government funds related to the hiring or placement of the same individual (e.g.; Employment Service or Youth Job Connection); and,
  • Use staff hired using financial incentives to displace existing staff or replace staff who are on lay-off.

Strategic Use of Individual-Focused Employment Supports and Employer Incentives

While Individual-focused Employment Supports and Employer Incentives outlined in Section 3.2.2 are available to all youth and employers who meet the eligibility criteria, careful management of incentives and supports funding will be required to ensure resources are focused on those most in need. Service providers should use the following additional criteria to inform their funding decision-making business practices:

  • Youth ages 15-19: Supports a part of the youth demographic that experiences higher levels of unemployment than the rest of the cohort (i.e.; ages 20-29).
  • Students: Supports students gain work experience that will improve their ability to transition to the labour market post-graduation.
  • Market perceptions:  Characteristics which lead potential employers to form negative biases or perceptions about the individual and their ability to perform on the job (e.g.; neighbourhood where the youth resides, time out of school, work or training and youth with disabilities).
  • Disadvantaged economic background: Individually-focused employment supports are not income tested, however, consideration should be given to a youth’s economic background in providing financial supports (e.g.; parents are on social assistance).
  • Rural and Remote Communities: Helping to address challenges youth face with respect to large geographic distances between home and work, combined in some cases with limited public transportation.
  • Small Employers (Ten or fewer employees): small employers have less capacity and resources available to effectively recruit for their workforces than larger employers. Employer Incentives could help facilitate more job matches between small employers and youth.
  • Not-for-profit Employers: limited financial resources can impact the ability of not-for-profit employers to recruit for their workforces. Employer Incentives could help facilitate more job matches in the not-for-profit sector.

Monitoring, Exit and Follow-Up

Given its focus on non-intensive services, Youth Job Link service providers are not required to extensively case manage clients accessing services. Post-service follow-up are not required for Youth Job Link.

Upon completion of Youth Job Link workshops or job matching services, youth and employers must be provided the opportunity to complete a customer service survey and provide other feedback on the services or program.


YJL’s performance will be managed through two dimensions: Customer Service and Efficiency. The service quality standards will be the same as under the Employment Service (ES) program but will not feed into the ES performance data and ES Service Quality Standard.

Performance Measurement

Customer Service (Customer Satisfaction core measure):

Employer and youth customer satisfaction with services received through Youth Job Link will be measured, with a minimum response rate of 15% and a 90% rate of satisfaction. 

Efficiency (Intake: Resource and Information):

The following Intake outputs would be tracked for Youth Job Link:

  • Number of youth attending YJL workshops; and,
  • Number of clients/employers who have received a financial incentive or support in relation to a job match.

Funding Decision Matrix and Continuous Improvement in the Ministry’s Business Planning Cycle

Business planning and continuous improvement and Ministry decision-making practices with respect to ongoing funding of Youth Job Link services will align with processes and practices articulated in Sections 4.4.2. and 4.4.4. of the Employment Service guidelines.


Administrative practices with respect to accessibility for persons with disabilities, provision of services in French, acknowledgement of Ontario Government support, privacy, information management requirements and data security/storage must align with those articulated in Section 5 of the Employment Service guidelines.

Documentation Requirements

Service providers must maintain the following types of documentation for participants and employers accessing Individual-focused Employment Supports or Employer Incentives as part of job matching services.

Documentation for participants:

  • Completed, signed and dated YJL Participant Information form.
  • Rationale for the individual support, the amount of financial support and an authorized service provider signature for the support.
  • Written proof of employment offer

Documentation for employers:

  • Completed, signed and dated Employer Information and Incentive form.
  • Rationale for the incentive, the amount of financial support and an authorized service provider signature for the support.

Audit and Accountability Requirements

Audit and accountability requirements set out the formal financial reporting and audit process. Service providers are required to submit financial reports as outlined in the Youth Job Link Audit and Accountability Requirements for Recipients. These requirements will be included as a Schedule in the Transfer Payment Agreement.

Program Monitoring

The service provider should expect the Ministry to monitor program delivery and implementation to ensure compliance with contractual agreements, consistent standards are upheld, and fidelity to program guidelines. For the purpose of program monitoring the Ministry may seek to:

  • verify documents and other forms prior to processing;
  • directly contact the service provider and/or participants/beneficiaries, other stakeholders, and partners;
  • conduct on-site visits to assess progress and achievement of activity milestones;
  • conduct on-site visits to verify expenditures and compliance to agreement terms;
  • use or request program/project data for informed decision-making and/or program evaluation; and/or,
  • review reports submitted by the service provider.


The following forms must be used for the delivery and administration of the Youth Job Link program. These forms are mandatory and must not be altered by the service provider.

  • YJL Participant Information form
  • YJL Employer Information and Incentive form

All program forms are available on the Employment Ontario Partners’ Gateway (EOPG).