By Nikki Jamieson
During their regular Feb. 28 meeting, the Municipal District of Taber council reviewed a letter to Bow River MP Martin Shields in regard to the Youth Employment Program (YEP) in Taber’s funding cut.
Signed by 10 students of the program, the letter expressed a deep disappointment to the loss of the program in the area, saying it provided them with the opportunity to better their lives, and asks Shields for the government to reconsider the program cut.
“We know as adults that we had to work to earn a living, but we lacked the abilities to know what to do to find and keep that job. We have learned it is possible to balance parenthood, hold a job, take care of your finances and home and go to school. We have also learned how to achieve goals and how to use and create a support system. Rather than feeling like your life is set in stone, the program helps you realize that you can try new things, change and grow and help yourself,” read the letter. “Cutting the funding without consulting those who have participated in the program is negligent. We feel for those other young adults in our community who will not receive the same opportunity to have this program influence and improve their lives, will be at a disadvantage.”
“We have a unique situation here in the M.D. of Taber; a lot of our youth aren’t getting proper schooling, proper education,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. “And this was an opportunity for them to go out there and upgrade, and be able to get a Grade 12 or at least an equivalency, in order to get some jobs.”
Handled through the Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association, Brewin said there was a line-up for the next year of the program, until they found out that the program’s funding was cut after serving only one year in existence.
However, the program is still carrying on in other parts of the country. The federal government website for its Concierge program — which aims to advise and support small to medium-sized enterprises — was advertising, as of March 10 afternoon, a Youth Employment program in connection with the National Research Council Canada – Industrial Research Assistance Program, which is based in Ontario.
A similar program in North Vancouver was announced to have received funding earlier this month from Service Canada.
It is called Wired 4 Success, which is run by the Hollyburn Family Services Society.
“Sadly, this seems to be more of a political things, it’s everyone in Alberta didn’t get the funding. Maybe it’s a bit of a strong statement, but it seems to be the only logic that I can see,” said Brewin, adding that the program in Brooks didn’t get funding either. “We got people lined-up to take this program; it’s been positive.”
He asked council if they could write a letter in support of this letter from the students. Council passed a motion to write such a letter, and send both letters to the appropriate individuals.
The Youth Employment Program is for people ages 15-30 who are out of school, unemployed or underemployed which the program is targeted for. People targeted for the program range from single parents, individuals who did not finish high school or who are facing other barriers to employment such as residing in a remote location, physical or ethnic minority, recent immigrant youth, and ESL literacy. Other barriers may include inadequate skill sets, lack of social supports (family, friends, community), lack of previous work experience, poor self and/or behaviour management abilities, or physical/mental/emotional social challenges.
Each intake is 17 weeks in length featuring classroom and work experience. Instruction involves motivation and mentorship, personal development, self reliance and budget skills, career assessment and personal well-being with an emphasis on nutrition, computers and technology, employment readiness, workplace and social media etiquette, post-secondary tours, portfolio development and supervised work experience. The program is available to all southern Albertans from the TDCALA office.