Opinion

Cannan: Seeking ideas for projects to connect youth to new jobs

I recently received a note from Shelagh Turner, the dedicated and hard-working executive director for the Kelowna area branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“I wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for the role you play in supporting the Summer Student jobs program,” Turner wrote.

“We just said goodbye to Meghan, who just returned to school in Calgary. She assisted us with our reception and admin duties this past summer and was outstanding.

“Without the financial assistance of the Service Canada program, we could not have afforded to hire anyone. Having her doing such an important job in reception gave us the opportunity to get some really critical administrative tasks completed that ultimately support our staff, clients and the community.

“Each year we field over 10,000 calls and walk-in inquiries for information, services and support so our reception is a busy place. Many thanks for the opportunity, from all the staff and board at CMHA Kelowna!”

It’s great to get such positive feedback and to know that federal government programs like Canada Summer Jobs, supported by you the taxpayer, are working.

For so many years the Canada Summer Jobs program has been a “foot in the door” to many a fulfilling career, while at the same time supporting the work of important community organizations and local small businesses.

The fact is support for youth employment is needed more than ever.

For youth in particular, this recession has not been kind. Their jobless rate rose significantly during the recession, and it’s still almost twice the national average.

Yet, employers across this country are looking for workers. At the beginning of May, there were more than 258,000 job vacancies across Canada.

It’s clear that we need to connect youth who are looking for employment with employers who are looking for workers.

But it’s also clear that in order to tap into the rich resource of our young people, we need to help them by developing their skills and matching them with available jobs more effectively.

The federal government is trying to bridge that gap.

Through Economic Action Plan 2012, the federal government recently announced that it is investing $50 million over two years to connect young Canadians with high demand jobs, matching approximately 3,000 young Canadians with jobs in areas where there is a clear need for workers.

My colleague, Human Resources and Social Development Minister Diane Finley, has launched two Calls for Proposals that will be used to deliver the funding—one for Skills Link and one for Career Focus. Both are existing programs under the Youth Employment Strategy.

We are seeking ideas for projects that will help employers fill labour shortages while providing youth with the all-important, on-the-job experience they need to transition into a career.

Organizations applying under Career Focus can receive up to $1.5 million per year.

The Career Focus projects must connect recent post-secondary graduates with private sector work experience in high demand occupations and be delivered in a minimum of three different provinces or territories.

Organizations applying under Skills Link can receive up to $2 million per year. The Skills Link projects must provide youth facing barriers to employment with skills development and private sector work experience in high demand occupations.

I invite local organizations to apply for funding. That opportunity is open to organizations across Canada with the application deadline being Oct.19. Information and details on how to apply are available at www.servicecanada.gc.ca.

Our government is committed to supporting our young people because we recognize how vital their abilities are to Canada’s long-term growth, competitiveness and overall prosperity.

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s workforce, so by investing in them we are investing in Canada.

For more information on what the federal government is doing for youth, please go to www.youth.gc.ca .

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