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September 11, 2012 / Summer Street Blog

Peter MacKay announces funding for skills link for jobless youth

NEW GLASGOW – Jordan Whittington had some set backs in his life, but he wasn’t dwelling on the negative Saturday.

Instead, the Pictou County man was nothing but smiles and enthusiasm as he took the podium in front of Central Nova MP Peter MacKay to tell him how a program geared towards getting youth into workforce has change his life.

“When I first woke from the coma, I felt terrible, but then I burst into Skills Link and I saw my brothers and my family and we all shared our stories. We were all there for the same reasons,” he said.

Whittington is one of 10 participants in the Skills Link that provides funding for employers and organizations to offer eligible activities for youth facing barriers to employment. The program is part of the Youth Employment Strategy, an initiative funded by the federal government.

The government launched calls for proposals to deliver the funding, one for Career Focus and another for Skills Link, both of which are existing programs under the Youth Employment Strategy.

MacKay said the federal government is funding a $50-million initiative dedicated to projects that will connect a total of about 3,000 young Canadians with private sector jobs in fields that are in high demand, such as skilled trades and tourism.

“The workplace sometimes requires bridges to connect people to jobs and even in the best of times it is hard. It can be challenging to help people to break into the workforce,” he said.

He said it is important to keep youth working in provinces of the country, adding there will be an increased need for skilled laborers in Atlantic Canada once a $25-billion shipbuilding contract for Irving gets underway.

“We need to focus our attention on how to help develop young people and give them the skills they need,” he said. “This program that we are highlighting today is intended to entirely bridge that gap.”

The calls will close on October 19 and organizations across Canada are invited to apply. Organizations including, but not limited to, business, not-for-profit, crown corporations, educational institutions, aboriginal organizations and provincial, territorial and municipal governments can apply for funding.

Summer Street Industries and Career Connections in Pictou County are two local organizations that currently take advantage of the Skills Link program and the federal government would like to see more organizations or businesses become involved.

“We have been able to do some creative and innovative things with people over the last number of years,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of Summer Street Industries. “Without that funding, it is just not going to happen.”

Skills Link is divided into two sections. The first six months in the classroom where students learn all the hard things about job interviews and how to deal with budgeting and computer skills and working on Excel computer program.  The second phase is about getting them into the workforce and finding a job they want to do.

“Young people today want to work at something that they like,” said Skills Link instructor Rick Welbourne. “That is the perfect place for them to be. The match is everything. It’s a matter of making that match. “

Lucas Bowman, who attended the program on behalf of Skills Link, said Skills Link opened doors for him in the workplace and now he is working at his perfect match.

“They took me in and showed me the ropes and I guess I got my confidence up and I learned lots of skills and experiences,” he said. “I got a good job at Fix Auto now. One of the best things that has ever happened to me was Skills Link taking me into this job.” ~ Sueann Musick – The News  Published on September 9, 2012

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