Ontario’s poor youth employment numbers being worked on in Caledon

The January Labour Force Survey, showed Ontario youth unemployment is up, and the province continues to lead the nation in youth unemployment.

But Caledon Community Services, through a collection of local youth focused services, is looking to improve those numbers in Caledon.

According to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s youth unemployment rate, for those aged 15 to 24, went from 11.5 per cent in December 2018 to 12.3 per cent in January 2019.

Those percentages mean approximately 134,800 youth in Ontario are looking for work.

NDP Employment, Jobs, Research and Innovation Critic Catherine Fife said the numbers show a persistent trend of youth in this province being let down.

“Young people in Ontario deserve opportunities to find the stable jobs and meaningful careers that will launch them into a successful adulthood, and enable affordable lives,” Fife said.

“To tackle Ontario’s high rates of youth unemployment, Ontario needs to create not just jobs, but paid training opportunities for students to learn crucial job skills without having to go further into debt,” said NDP Youth Engagement Critic Faisal Hassan.

The province did add 41,400 jobs overall in January, however more people were looking for work, so despite the gains — which lead the country — Ontario’s overall unemployment rate went up 0.3 per cent to 5.7 per cent.

“Our government is putting Ontario back on track,” said Todd Smith, minister of economic development, job creation and trade in a press release about the addition of 41,400 jobs. “We are working hard to make Ontario the best place for businesses to thrive, grow and create good jobs. We are committed to working with job creators to ensure that we have a competitive business landscape that protects workers and creates jobs.”

Director of Employment Services for CCS Cathy Perennec-McLean (left) and CCS staff members Joanne Huggins Bailey as well as Life for Youth Program Co-ordinator Mary Falcone during a government presentation to Life for Youth in 2010. Since its inception, Life for Youth has served 264 unemployed youth in Caledon. – Matthew Strader


So what is happening in Caledon to increase opportunities for Caledon’s youth?

Caledon Community Services (CCS) operates several government-funded programs for youth under the umbrella of the agency’s employment and training division.

“All programs have a common goal: They provide employability skills to support skills development and sustainable employment for people aged 15-30,” said director of employment and training for CCS, Cathy Perrenec McLean.

LIFE for Youth is a federally funded program they launched in 2008 for youth aged 15 to 30 who are out of school, or excused from school.

The Youth Job Connection is provincially funded and launched in 2016 for youth aged 15 to 29 who are out of school or excused from school.

Youth Job Connection Summer is provincially funded and launched in 2016 for students aged 15 to 18.

And the Youth Job Link is provincially funded and launched in 2016 for ages 15 to 29 including students.

Life for Youth has served 264 youth since its creation, and the youth employment programs serve an average of 55 clients annually.

Apart from youth specific programs, CCS also offers job search and career development resources, workshops, guest speakers and a fully equipped resource centre with online tools and training. All of these services are provided at no cost and youth can also access an online job bank to support their job search.

As well, CCS works with employers who support the community’s workforce development needs, providing local businesses with job-ready workers and subsidies to support new hires. Besides a wage subsidy, employers get employees who have already received skills training and specialized coaching, and who are job ready and eager to help their business succeed.

And more can be done. McLean said through the work CCS has experienced, they’ve seen further supports that could benefit Caledon’s youth, and they have advocated for further funding to try and provide it.

Some of the areas include: A youth centre/portal to receive help with lost ID applications, support in establishing bank accounts, affordable housing rentals, counselling and a coaching advocate for those who lack family support.

McLean also said a lack of a localized public transportation system is a barrier for youth as well.

“Our employment services empower community youth by giving them the necessary tools to engage in the local economy and have value for local employers,” she said. “Our community employers can support our work by embracing an opportunities to employ local youth.”

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