Tuesday April 13, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 4:40 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Today there was an announcement for youth by Premier John Horgan along with Jobs, Employment, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon about two new employment programs that are aimed at youth employment.
But the lead-in by Premier Horgan was earmarked with excitement about the fact that BC not only has an advisor on youth issues, but that the MLA he’s picked for the role is his “youngest Millennial” of the bunch. Horgan told media today that he’s “fortunate to have seven members of the legislature who are Millennials, and the youngest is Brittny”. Her described her role as being one of “ominous responsibility”.
Brittny Anderson, MLA (Nelson-Creston) was sent a mandate letter from the Premier’s office last month, setting her up as “the point person for young people across government”. She is to provide a platform for young people to engage directly with the Government of BC. A key goal is so that “government develops a better understanding of the needs and perspectives of young people across British Columbia”.
Today Premier Horgan called that a very important job. Anderson is expected to make progress on identifying issues that are important to youth and that have an impact on their daily lives and futures.
The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on youth unemployment. Anderson is to seek information from across BC as to strategies that “work to support youth employment”.
Supporting innovation and digital tech:
Today’s Stronger BC job announcement under Ravi Kahlon’s Ministry of Jobs, Economy Recovery and Innovation are very much targeted at youth. One is program is being run through Innovate BC (which sets up businesses to hire students in a range of sectors) and the other is being executed through the Digital Technology Supercluster and Microsoft.
The promise is that 5,000 youth and young adults across BC will be provided with access to skills training and well-paid jobs through the almost $45 million StrongerBC Future Leaders Program.
“This pandemic has set back many young people from starting their careers,” said Horgan. By providing “first-rate training” and in-demand jobs that can lead to fulfilling long-term careers, this is the Premier hope at rectifying the hit against youth by the COVID-19 health emergency’s impacts on their career tracks.
Horgan happened to mention that he addressed the graduating class of Edward Milne Community School (within School District 62 in Sooke) for their June 2020 graduation, and had said at the time that they were the only class to be impacted such a significant socioeconomic event. Well, now there’s a second cohort of graduates across BC who are in the same pandemic-impacted boat.
Four ministries in the loop:
Being that the pandemic has generated more unemployment for youth (peaking at 29% during the pandemic which was 15 percentage points above the provincial average, though now down to 12.1% at March 2021 which is almost double the 6.9% general BC unemployment rate) and that the nature of the economy has been changing rapidly, the challenge to effectively address youth economic needs has found itself stretching among four provincial ministries:
- Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation [$22 million for at least 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two program in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster | A second program – the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program – is delivered by NPower Canada, in partnership with the Digital Technology Supercluster and Microsoft]
- Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development [$11 million for 220 jobs in the Natural Resource Youth Employment program and the Recreation Sites and Trails Program]
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy [up to 180 job opportunities to help tackle marine debris and plastic pollution in coastal communities; including $5 million investment in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters program aimed at youth and Indigenous employment]
- Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training [including $1 million into Mitacs for key internal program placements, in addition to $1.8 million in 2019-2020 for total $2.18 million over two years]
Combined ongoing challenges:
“Finding meaningful employment is a continuing challenge for many young people across BC as we continue to deal with the pandemic,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change, George Heyman, in a release.
“Hands-on learning opportunities are a vital part of building our knowledge-based economy,” said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Anne Kang, in a statement.
Gaining valuable work experience while managing and protecting BC’s natural resources was the tack taken by Forests Minister Katrine Conroy in her quote provided by government today.