First Work Ontario Association of 
Youth Employment Centres

Who We Are/Our Mission

First Work is an association group, established back in 1988, with a goal to fill the gap needed for a youth-focused provider network. Youth facing barriers, particularly those not engaged in employment, education or training (NEET youth), require unique supports and therefore require unique advocacy.


Collaboration for far-reaching success has remained core to our mission during our own growth as an organization as we know that by sharing insights, experiences, and best practices, providers across Ontario can better support young people.


Over the last couple years, we have migrated our focus back to the research and advocacy that truly drives positive change in the sector, and therefore, for Ontario’s young people. As part of this effort, we secured two Ministry funding opportunities. MLITSD funding to increase capacity in upskilling, finding learning opportunities, career exploration and securing employment (GPS For Your Career). OMAFRA funding to increase jobseeker awareness of the in-demand career pathways in the agri-food sector and with the Employment Service Providers, to support provide employers with financial and recruitment guide for hiring, training, and retaining employees (Agri-Food Pathways).


In addition to advocacy and research, we host two annual conferences for the workforce development sector.

1) Amplify is First Work’s annual Leadership Summit, targeting management and other sector leaders, which takes place in April.

2) Futures is First Work’s national workforce development conference for frontlines, managers, employers, and youth, taking place in October.


The last and most important piece of the First Work network is our youth. We firmly believe that in order to be impactful, we must take into account the views and opinions of our young people who we are working for. We incorporate the viewpoints of young people through First Work’s Youth Council and engage with youth directly through our career exploration initiative and youth voice, Aspire. In collaboration with our Youth Council, Aspire hosts career exploration events throughout the year and also undertakes research initiatives to better meet the needs of youth.


DBSA Funding Allotments

Funds from the Bingo program have been allocated towards First Work’s youth career exploration program called Aspire. The funds have been used for the following:

Virtual Event Platform “Pheedloop” for Virtual Youth Summit

Printed Swag

Facilitator and Speaker Fees

Venue, Audio-Visual and Food for Career Exploration Events

ASL and French Translation

Graphic Design Services

Program Promotion and Advertising

Participant Travel including buses and presto tickest for public transportation

Honouriums for Toronto Youth Council members and volunteers

Printed Materials including signage, exhibitor booth flyers, post event surveys, etc.

Event Supples including lanyards, name badges, printer ink, etc.


DBSA Funds in Action