Youth Skills Link participants from Windsor and Kentville met in the Enterprise Centre of Hants County Nov. 19 for an information session funded through the Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association (VANSDA). Pictured are, from left, back row: Michael Allison, Tanya Berard (needs determination officer), Lynn Silver (project manager), Cody Stevenson, Atara Kelsey, Jhorman Henao, Michael Archer and Trina Pineo (needs determination officer); front row: Justin (Jay) States, Cherrelle Sampson, Shaleen Gray and Tamara States. Absent from the photo is Theo Tolbart.
A job readiness program offered in Windsor is in need of local employers willing to give employment seekers some valuable work experience.
Youth Skills Link, a government-funded program accessible through the not-for-profit Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association (VANSDA), is available for non-EI eligible people between the ages of 18 and 30 who have been out of school for at least one year.
The five-month program, offered in Windsor and Kentville, includes in-class training in such areas as WHMIS, First Aid, CPR, work and life management, mock interviews, resume building and workplace etiquette.
The free course also includes three work placements, lasting four to six weeks, which are arranged and funded through VANSDA.
Trina Pineo, the program’s needs determination officer in Windsor, said one of the five Youth Skills Link participants based in Hants County found a job placement as of Nov. 19. The first placement for the current group was scheduled to begin Nov. 26.
The participants are placed in a work setting based on their personal interests when possible, Pineo said.
Youth Skills Link program manager Lynn Silver says VANSDA covers the cost of wages and insurance for the work placements and the employers, in turn, are asked to provide participants with mentorship and training.
“It’s a good trial basis,” said Silver, who noted that it is much more than simply a case of employers benefiting from free labour.
In the seven years the program has been running in the Annapolis Valley, Silver says 23 people found work after completing Youth Skills Link, 24 decided to go back to school and 12 remained unemployed for at least three months.
“In a lot of cases what’s happened is there hasn’t been a full-time job at the end of the program, but they’ve gotten called back on a casual basis or they get to get their foot in the door with a part-time job.”
She says the goal of the program is to help participants overcome barriers that are making it difficult for them to secure work, and community-oriented employers willing to accept participants with open arms are crucial to the success of Youth Skills Link.
“They really have to buy in to the belief that you’re going to make a better workforce, that you’re going to make a better future, that youth are worth taking that extra step.”