City of Toronto and partners launch program to train youth for work in local screen industry

October 18, 2019

Mayor John Tory and program partners launched the Production Assistant Training Program for under-represented communities today. This cohort of the program supports Black young adults ages 18 to 29.

Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic and Community Development Committee, Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth), Chair of the City's Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board, Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Ward 25 Scarborough-Rouge Park) and Councillor Anthony Perruzza (Ward 7 Humber River-Black Creek).

The five-week production assistant training program, which runs until December, is part of the City's xoTO Screen Industry Pathway initiatives in support of making the Toronto screen industry more inclusive and representative of Toronto's racial and ethnic diversity.

Funding is being provided by the City's Poverty Reduction Strategy in partnership with United Way Greater Toronto, POV and CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals.

Created and operated by POV, the program provides participants with technical training and an opportunity to develop a range of soft workplace skills. Participants are also introduced to relevant networks of industry professionals and learn about the career and training pathways open to production assistants in film, television, digital media and commercial productions.

The curriculum was created in collaboration with the screen industry, including significant input from the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario. The guild will recognize and count participants' time in the program as required experience needed to enter its apprenticeship program, and will reduce the cost of entry to that program by 75 per cent.

CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals is leading in the recruitment of participants and delivery of soft skills training to develop the participants' capacity to navigate systems, meet professional expectations and successfully enter the screen industry.

The program includes set visits, placements and job opportunities for participants on productions made in Toronto, including Canadian Film Centre productions, commercials, independent productions and the upcoming HBO television series Run and Clement Virgo's feature film Brother.

United Way’s support of this initiative is part of its Career Navigator program, which provides youth facing multiple barriers with access to interconnected education, training, job placement, soft-skills and wrap-around support services. Through partnership with agencies and employers, Career Navigator helps youth gain industry-recognized credentials needed for in-demand employment opportunities.

The film, television and digital media sector is a major economic driver, generating $2 billion in Toronto in 2018.

In addition to the hands-on training that this initiative offers, the City of Toronto is leading a Toronto Screen Industry Workforce Study, and the United Way of Greater Toronto and POV are leading a study that maps the barriers of entry into the screen production industry for diverse and under-represented communities. The combined results and recommendations of these studies will inform future talent development in Toronto's screen industry.

Additional cohorts will be recruited for program delivery in 2020.


"As Toronto's film, television and digital media sector continues to grow, I'm proud that we are all working together to make sure that under-represented communities, particularly youth and young adults, gain access to this thriving industry."

- Mayor John Tory

"To remain a viable option for both local and foreign productions, Toronto is committed to developing and supporting our screen industry workforce and this includes ensuring that it reflects the diversity of our city."

- Councillor Paula Fletcher

"Generating close to $2 billion in 2018, the film, television and digital media sector is a major economic driver in Toronto. The City and our partners are working to ensure the economic benefits of this growth are experienced by Toronto's diverse communities."

- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson

"POV is excited about collaborating on a workforce development strategy with champions from the television and film production industry, its unions, the City of Toronto and community agencies from the Toronto area."

- Biju Pappachan, Executive Director of POV

"DGC Ontario is excited to partner with the City of Toronto in the POV PA Program. Through this program, we are able to contribute to the development of a more capable and diverse workforce in Toronto’s film and television industry by breaking down barriers and obstacles to available careers, and equipping participants with the skills and confidence to succeed on their own merits."

- David Seymour, Member Services Manager of Directors Guild of Canada - Ontario

"We’re so pleased to be expanding our Career Navigator program by investing in this career pathway. We know that many young people in need of good-paying jobs will benefit – and have access to skills that will serve them well into the future."

—Daniele Zanotti, President and CEO, United Way Greater Toronto

As the largest non-government funder of community services in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), United Way Greater Toronto reinforces a crucial community safety net. United Way’s network of agencies and initiatives in neighbourhoods across Peel, Toronto and York Region works to ensure that everyone has access to the programs and services they need to thrive today. Mobilizing the network and other community support, United Way tackles #UNIGNORABLE issues linked to poverty. United Way’s work is rooted in ground-breaking research, strategic leadership, local advocacy and cross-sectoral partnerships committed to building lasting solutions to the GTA’s greatest challenges.

Since 2007, POV’s mission has been to educate, connect and support young people from diverse and traditionally underrepresented communities to develop their talent and creative passion into successful careers in the television, film and commercial production industry.  POV provides industry led technical training, skills development and job opportunities to talented young people, who are driven and have a desire to work in the television & film production industry, yet lack relevant work experience and the financial capacity required to pursue their passion.

The CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals (CEE) is a charity dedicated to workforce development, education and professional capacity for Black young adults 18 and over. CEE is committed to cultivating a talent pool of Young Black Professionals that can benefit the Canadian labour market. They offer programs that are holistic, person-centered and culturally relevant. Unique from other career development programs, CEE offers youth exposure, experience, system navigation, and wrap-around social supports so that they can transform their lives and grab a hold of opportunities that would not have otherwise been tangible.

The Directors Guild of Canada Ontario is a provincial labour organization representing more than 2,600 key creative and logistical personnel working in the screen-based industries in the areas of direction, assistant direction, design, production management, locations, accounting and editing.

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