Ontario Government Incentives for Hiring Young Talent

As Ontario’s aging workforce draws nearer to retirement, it’s essential that companies have a plan for how to fill these roles. Recruiting students and recent graduates is a good strategy to overcome talent gaps, although employers often find it difficult to find and hire quality youth employees. The additional time and costs needed to hire and train these workers are challenging hurdles to overcome, but government support can help.

Employment Ontario is an organization led by Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) with the mandate to develop a highly skilled workforce. It supports both employers and employees to fill gaps in the workforce and drive a more competitive economy. Providing job placement services and offering wage subsidies for employers are two ways it achieves this.

Employment Ontario hiring incentives offer employers up to $6,000 to $8,000 for hiring youth workers. Employee training programs can also receive support up to 50% to 83%.

To participate in Employment Ontario hiring programs, companies are required to contact a local service provider; these service providers maintain a pool of potential candidates and will match your company to a youth also registered in the program. Funding is awarded incrementally after employment begins to help offset training and related onboarding costs.

Employment Ontario Government Incentives for Hiring Youth

For employers that struggle to find and retain quality youth employees, Ontario’s Employment Service and Youth Job Connection are great resources. Both programs offer similar financial supports to help companies and their matched candidates find meaningful employment opportunities.

Through each program, companies start by meeting an Employment Ontario representative who helps match the employer’s workforce needs to youth participants seeking employment. The rep also conducts a job or task analysis to ensure that the candidate will receive additional training and experience through the placement.

Upon being considered “qualified” for the programs, companies work with Employment Ontario to negotiate incentives that cover the costs of training and other direct employment costs (payroll costs are not included).

Ontario Employment Service – Placement Incentive

The Ontario Employment Service connects businesses with unemployed individuals aged 15 to 20 that have a maximum grade-12 education but strive to acquire in-demand job skills.

  • Amount: Up to $6,000 in funding to support the training of a new employee; an additional $2,000 is available through the Apprenticeship Employer Signing Bonus if the candidate qualifies as an apprentice. Funding can only be stacked with the Employing Young Talent Incentive if the employer has fewer than 100 employees.
  • Eligibility: Ontario employers that can offer adequate supervision and the training/work experience described in the individual’s employment plan.
  • Candidate Focus: Individuals younger than 20 with a maximum grade 12-level education. Candidate must be unemployed or out of school for at least six months and faces barriers in re-joining the workforce.
  • Timeline: Placements are typically four to six months in duration. Amount of funding negotiated when working with the Employment Service to support the worker’s training and supervision during the placement period.

Ontario Youth Job Connection – Year-Round

Ontario’s Youth Job Connection program connects businesses with unemployed or underemployed youth aged 15 to 29 that are not attending school.

  • Amount: Typically up to $6,000 per youth, but must be negotiated with a local service provider. Seeks to offset the additional costs required for supervision and on-the-job training. Can be stacked with the Employing Young Talent Incentive.
  • Eligibility: Ontario employers that can offer adequate supervision and the training/work experience described in the individual’s employment plan.
  • Candidate Focus: Individuals aged 15 to 29 that are unemployed and not participating in other education or training courses. Candidates are matched to employers by Employment Ontario and often experience multiple and/or complex barriers to employment.
  • Timeline: Maximum 26-week placement. No minimum duration, however it’s expected that the candidate will only have one employer unless arranged otherwise.

Ontario Youth Job Connection – Summer

The summer employment stream of Ontario’s Youth Job Connection program helps companies employ youth aged 15 to 18 for a period of up to eight weeks.

  • Amount: Typically up to $2,000 per summer student, but must be negotiated with a local service provider. Seeks to offset the additional costs required for supervision and on-the-job training. Can be stacked with the Employing Young Talent Incentive.
  • Eligibility: Ontario employers that can offer adequate supervision, and the training/work experience described in the individual’s employment plan.
  • Candidate Focus: High school students, aged 15 to 18 and returning to school in the fall. Candidates are matched to employers by Employment Ontario and often face challenging life circumstances and may need support transitioning between school and work.
  • Timeline: Maximum eight-week placement. No minimum duration, however it’s expected that the candidate will only have one employer throughout the summer.

Employing Young Talent Incentive

The Employing Young Talent Incentive (EYTI) is an additional hiring incentive that supports companies that continue employing their matched candidate longer than the maximum placement in either the Employment Service or the Youth Job Connection program.

  • Employment Service: $1,000 awarded upon hiring the candidate, followed by another $1,000 if the candidate has been retained for at least six months. Companies cannot access EYTI if they are currently receiving funding from the Employment Service.
  • Youth Job Connection: $1,000 awarded upon employee retention for three months, followed by another $1,000 if/when the employee has been retained for six months.

Canada-Ontario Job Grant for Training Employees

Employers can also access the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) to support employee training programs. COJG grants can help provide extra training to candidates hired through Employment Service or Youth Job Connection, but this should be outside of the training plans already supported through other provincial incentives.

Through COJG funding, companies can access up to 50-83% of third-party training costs to a maximum $10,000 per trainee.

COJG funding is commonly used to hire a third-party training provider that leads a group of employees through a standardized training program. This improves the skillsets of those employees and ultimately helps them become more employable. Not only is COJG a great fit for extending training to Employment Service or Youth Job Connection hires, but it can support other members of your team too.

Get Started with Ontario Government Incentives for Employers

To initiate a placement through Ontario’s Employment Service or Youth Job Connection programs, companies must:

  • Meet the program’s unique eligibility criteria;
  • Receive at least one initial site visit prior to a placement to confirm a suitable and safe workplace environment is provided;
  • Develop a training plan with the Service Provider and participant; and
  • Negotiate incentives as appropriate.

To discuss your business’ opportunity to access hiring incentives, please let us know more about your hiring plans. Contact Mentor Works to explore hiring and training incentives.

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Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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