The BC Government has announced a $5 million investment towards a new program aimed creating jobs for unemployed youth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melanie Mark, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training in BC, revealed Monday that the new 16-week Youth Community Partnership program will target individuals who are between the ages of 15-29.
The program will engage youth to work on community service projects that are geared towards helping communities “build back better” following the impacts of COVID-19.
“We recognize that COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact young people’s prospects for work, which they typically use to leverage future job prospects or to pay for their education or training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Now, more than ever, young people are looking for ways to support themselves, while giving back to their communities. Engaging in safe, physically distanced local projects is an incredible opportunity for young people to acquire new skills, earn money and contribute to building back an even better B.C.”
According to the government, BC communities can apply for service projects such as trail building, beach clean-up, park upgrades or local charitable initiatives.
The province will then connect youth with projects that will help with skill-building that is geared towards also helping benefit youth for future opportunities. Each youth participant will be paid a training stipend of up to $2,000 per four-week period (to a maximum of $8,000) for work between June and October 31.
“I encourage communities around B.C. to take advantage of the Youth Community Partnership program,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “These grants will help youth build their skill sets, gain work experience and help rebuild their communities as the province begins economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Local governments, non-profit community and environmental organizations, employer associations, chambers of commerce and Indigenous communities are encouraged to apply, says the Province of BC.
“Our youth are the future of our Nations,” said Robert J. Dennis, Sr., Chief Councillor of Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “Opportunities like this not only give us a chance to rebuild our communities following COVID-19, but allow us to invest and build capacity in the next generation of leaders. Students face an uncertain future in the wake of this pandemic and participating in this innovative program will give them an opportunity to do something positive while gaining skills they can use in their education path or in a future career.”
Additional supports may be provided by the government as well, including bus passes, child care, work boots and personal protective equipment for the work.
In following physical distancing recommendations, no more than 10 youth will be assigned to each project.
The government is also anticipated that up to 500 youth and more than 50 communities in B.C. could benefit from the grant.