B.C. announces new $5M community partnership program to help unemployed youth

The provincial government has launched a new program aimed at creating community service work for unemployed British Columbians aged 15 to 29.

That age group has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, B.C.’s unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year-olds was 28.9 per cent, up 20.2 per cent compared to the same month last year.

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But the $5 million Youth Community Partnership program, announced by the provincial government Monday, will provide an opportunity for youth to work outside on community projects – such as upgrading local parks, invasive species control, or working with a local charity – while learning skills and gaining work experience towards their education, employment or future careers.

“We recognized that COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact young people’s prospects for work,” said BC Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark.

“Now, more than ever, young people are looking for ways to support themselves while giving back to their communities.”

Participants may also receive additional supports, such as bus passes, child care, work boots and personal protective equipment.

Local governments, non-profit community and environmental organizations, Indigenous communities, chambers of commerce and employer associations, are all encouraged to apply.

The provincial government says it anticipates up to 500 youth, and more than 50 B.C. communities, could benefit from the grant.

Communities that apply to the program can receive grants of up to $10,000 per youth, for projects running up to 16 weeks, according to the provincial government. 

The projects will incorporate physical distancing, and there will be no more than 10 youth per project, according to the province.

The funding is being provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training ($2 million) and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction ($3 million), through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement and Labour Market Development Agreement.

Those agreements are designed to help Canadians get training, develop skills, gain work experience and find employment.

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