Options Youth


If your business is interested in hiring a participant and benefiting from $4,900 in funding, please fill out the application below. If you have any questions please contact OptionsYouth@smu.ca


Next Intake will begin in June 20, 2022 and application are due May 30, 2022. If you are interested in hearing more please contact OptionsYouth@smu.ca

Options Youth is a employment wage subsidy program funded by Service Canada and facilitated by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. It consists of 10 weeks paid, online, milestone-based skill training, followed by a paid work placement. Options Youth is committed to helping Nova Scotian youth overcome barriers to enter the workforce through personalized training and a wage subsidy.

For Employers:

  • 700 hour wage subsidy, covering up to $7/hr, up to a maximum of $4,900.
  • Additional support, as required, throughout the program to participants and employers to provide the best possible experience


For Participants:

  • Personalized training and mentoring to participants using our online platform
  • Participants earn an allowance of over $4,500 while completing the online skill training

  • Support and coaching

Employer Requirements:

  • Hire a participant that has completed the online program
  • Small- and medium- size business in Nova Scotia
  • Place the participant on payroll (invoice Options Youth each month)
  • Provide monthly reports to the Project Manager

Participant Requiements:

  • A Case Manager (Employment Worker, Social Worker, Probation Officer, etc.)

  • Between the ages of 15-30

  • Canadian citizen, permanent resident or protected person as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

  • Legally entitled to work in Nova Scotia

  • Facing barrier to employment

Program Information

The Options Youth Program is an employability program developed by our Director Michael Sanderson in 2001. Since then, we have supported hundreds of prioirty youth develop the skills necessary to start their first job, gain a career position, stay employed or return to school. 


  • Support priority youth (age 15-30) to overcome barriers to employment.
  • Engage priority youth in the Skills for Success model.
  • Assist priority youth in return to school.
  • Create a safe space for youth to engage and learn from each other. 


The Options Youth Training Phase
Over 10 weeks, Participants will take part in milestone based personal and professional development training to improve their outlook on life. The Training Phase will be delivered via a hybrid model of learning (please see Hybrid model tab for more information)
Beginning June 20th until August 26, 2022, the program will meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1-4 to engage in training and development and each week participant will need to meet with their assigned Program Staff for a one-on-one coaching session. 
The Program is divided into milestones and each milestone is equal to approximately 2 full-time work weeks (approximately 60-70 hours of work). 
Schedule and examples of topics covered:
  • Milestone 1 – Welcome to Options Youth
    • Team Building
    • Reflection: You, past, present, and future
    • Goal Setting
  • Milestone 2 – Job Search
    • Career Planning
    • Resume, Cover letting building
    • Interview Preparations
    • Job Search
  • Milestone 3 – Life Skills
    • Communication
    • Building Confidence
    • Conflict Management
  • Milestone 4 – Money Management
    • Saving
    • Credit Cards
    • Investing
    • Paying off Debt
  • Milestone 5 – Workplace skills
    • Public Speaking
    • Labour Code
    • Respectful Workplaces
    • Leadership
  • Participant will have from June 20 to August 26, 2022 to complete the training and start their work term.
  • Participants can expect to have 12 hours of class, a 30 minute coaching session, plus about 5-10 hours of additional activities per week. 


  • Participants are paid over $900 after completing each module, up to $4,500 (before taxes).

The Options Youth Program 2022 will be delivered via a hybrid model. Operations including training and coaching session will be delivered by giving the participants an options to join us on in person on campus at Saint Mary’s University or virtually via Zoom.


This will be a new approach for our program but we are excited to offer the program to be more inclusive and flexible for all participants.


Once participants complete the Training Phase, they move into a paid work term. Participants are expected to use the skills they learn in the program to find a business to hire them for this 700 hour work term. Each participants comes with a $4,900 ($7/hour for 700 hours) subsidy, to be paid to their employer. 
  • Advice and monitoring throughout the work term
  • Support for transitioning into work
  • Monthly check ins
  • The 700 hour work term must end by March 31, 2023.

The Options Youth Program has partnered with Enactus Saint Mary’s to create the Options Online learning platform, a free eduation platform for youth across Canada.  This platform will be used by the Options Youth Program to delivered additional virtual training sessions.

Most of the Options Youth Program materials are available through this platform so it can act as a secondary resources for participants that may have missed a day and need to catch up on materials.

In additons the platforms seeks to provide 30 additional courses on topics not covered by the program, by the end of the program which will allow participants to register for and learn from to gain additional knowledge that could help them in their work term.

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