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$2M youth skills grant to provide economic base

By Tristan Marks

Lincoln youth looking to enter the workforce will get a much-needed leg up thanks to a $2 million grant from Ontario’s Skills Development Fund.

The fund supports youth to prepare for work and employers with affordable access to talent and resources to help grow their businesses.

The Town’s Economic Development Department will be using the funding to develop a Youth Skills Studio in partnership with Civiconnect, a non-profit organization that connects youth and the private sector to their communities to maximize their social impact through technology, innovation, and strategy.

The Youth Skills Studio will begin by providing 60,000 hours of work-integrated learning to 90 youth aged 15-29 working on 75 initiatives for local businesses.

These work-integrated learning projects will enable local businesses to connect with youth who will provide digital services for their businesses.

Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton said this program funding will help local businesses weather the storm of COVID-19 while preparing youth for upcoming job opportunities as the pandemic abates.

“The pandemic has shown us that businesses are in need of digital innovation and education to ensure their survival and growth in 2021 and beyond,” said Easton.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff said that the pandemic has created several challenges to the workforce, this partnership will help rebuild the local economy through its skillbase.

“This partnership demonstrates our government’s commitment to working with local partners to build a highly skilled and competitive workforce, and will ensure our province remains the engine of Canada’s economy,” said Oosterhoff.

Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos says that even before COVID-19, the town eyed youth employment as a key element to economic growth and success.

“The pandemic has further compounded youth unemployment and underemployment, and we look forward to tackling this issue with the Youth Skills Studio here in Lincoln,” said Kirkopoulos.

“We envision this program to have positive, long-term impacts on both the local and regional economy and the local labour force, by providing skills training here in Lincoln and opportunities for local businesses to benefit from local talent. “

While the first wave of training is in progress, additional training is available in sessions taking place Sept. 13–Dec. 24 and Jan. 10–April 22, 2022. Participants are each paid approximately $10,000 during the program.

“While we’ve committed to helping 90 youth, we’re going to go above that number,” said Kirkopoulos.

“We will be looking to extend the program longer than anticipated through potential future funding opportunities.”

The first cohort is wrapping up, but those who fall into the qualifying age range can reach out to Lincoln town hall through Cameron Rotz at: or to Civiconnect at:

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