More than a half million federal dollars are scheduled be funneled into a program that will help dozens of unemployed North Island youth find jobs.
John Duncan, Vancouver Island North MP and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, announced last week the North Island Employment Foundations Society will receive more than $577,000 to — over the next three years — help 72 local youths develop the skills and experience needed to find a job or the confidence to return to school.
“For many young Canadians, obtaining their first job is a challenge, especially in today’s environment,” Duncan said.
“That’s why our government is creating opportunities for youth to succeed through support for initiatives like the Skills for Success Program in Port Hardy.”
Participants will attend life and employability skills workshops that focus on topics such as résumé writing, problem solving and teamwork and, based on their needs and interests, the participants will then be matched with employers who’ll provide them with hands-on work experience through placements in the tourism, trades and customer services industries.
Skills Link helps youth facing barriers to employment, such as single parents, Aboriginal youth, youth with disabilities, recent immigrants, youth living in rural and remote areas, and youth who have dropped out of high school.
Kent Larden, manager of Employment Services for the Campbell River and North Island areas, said the program is open to all who are between the ages of 15 and 30.
“It’s a 12-week work experience program open to 24 people per year,” he said.
“They’ll learn how to get along in the workplace, how to show up for work on time — these seem simple to you and I but those are definitely things employers are finding issues with.”
larden added the course contains a life-skills component.
“The first three days of workshops prepare them to get into the workforce, aligning their thinking for what the employers are looking for,” he said.
“Then they go out in the workforce and there are workshops that continue through their work placement.”
Some even decide, at the end of the course, that more education is in order.
“Some youth go into the workforce and think that’s the end of it, but a lot of times they realize they need more schooling to realize what they want to do,” said Larden.
One of the great attractions for employers is they don’t have to hand out any cash.
“We pay the wages and wage costs — such as CPP contributions — for the entire 12 weeks,” said Larden.
“I don’t like to say there is no cost to employers because believe me there is — their time, and in-kind resources.”
The program is several years old and has a high success rate, noted Larden.
“Since 2005, the course has put through 125 North Island participants and of that number 86 per cent, or 108, completed the program and 66 of those said they found a satisfying job or went back to school.”
Indeed, employers often hire the participants after the course was completed.
“We’ve been very happy with this program, it seems to meet the needs of the youth and the employers up there,” he said from his Campbell River office.
People interested in learning more or who want to sign up, can do so by calling 250-949-5736.