VICTORIA – The Province is providing more than 5,000 youth and young adults across British Columbia 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. We’re providing first-rate training and in-demand jobs that can lead to fulfilling, long-term careers,” said Premier John Horgan. “Providing young adults with opportunities for stable, good jobs can change the direction of their lives, while helping British Columbia come back stronger and more resilient.”
The StrongerBC Future Leaders Program provides youth and young adults with training, internships, job co-ops and jobs in the growing tech sector, environment and natural resource fields. Four B.C. ministries will invest in this initiative, including the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.
“Young people continue to be disproportionally impacted in this pandemic. They have experienced higher rates of unemployment and the nature of the economy has been changing rapidly,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This new program creates opportunities that young people need. It takes an inclusive approach that is tailored to the future economy, to ensure that Indigenous, Black, people of colour, women and people facing socio-economic barriers are able to participate in our growing economy and help build a stronger B.C.”
Young people face significantly higher unemployment early in their careers as they try to build experience for the future. Youth are also often the first to feel the impact of economic shifts. During the pandemic, youth unemployment peaked at 29%, over 15 percentage points above the provincial average. As of March 2021, youth unemployment sits at 12.1%, above the general unemployment rate in B.C. of 6.9%.
The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation is investing $22 million to fund a minimum of 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two programs, in partnership with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.
The first program, the Innovator Skills Initiative program, is delivered in partnership with Innovate BC. The second program, the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator program, is delivered by NPower Canada, in partnership with the Digital Technology Supercluster and Microsoft.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will invest more than $11 million for over 220 jobs in the Natural Resource Youth Employment program and the Recreation Sites and Trails program.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is creating opportunities for up to 180 young people to help tackle marine debris and plastic pollution in coastal communities. An investment of $5 million in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters program is aimed at youth employment, including youth in Indigenous communities.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy will invest $4.6 million to create 37 positions with BC Parks and 46 positions with the Conservation Officer Service, to work in a variety of fields to gain experience and help protect the environment.
The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has invested $1 million into Mitacs for key internal program placements. This funding is in addition to the $1.8 million provided in 2019-20, for a total investment of $2.18 million over two years.
Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post-secondary institutions, industry, other not-for-profit organizations and communities. The internships will focus on addressing challenges in the sectors that include health, technology and others.
To further demonstrate government’s commitment to youth in British Columbia, Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston, has been appointed as the premier’s special advisor on youth.
As Special Advisor on Youth, Anderson will serve as the point person for young people across government, providing a platform for them to engage directly with the Province. Anderson will work with youth to ensure the government develops a better understanding of the needs and perspectives of young people throughout British Columbia.
Anderson will work with Kahlon to develop and chair a provincial youth economic advisory council to help shape government efforts to build an economic recovery that values B.C.’s future leaders.
“Our youth are the future of this province, and our government is working hard to give them every support they need to succeed. The job opportunities that come from this program will help young people thrive in every corner of the province,” Anderson said. “I am honoured to take on the role as the premier’s special advisor on youth, and I am excited to engage with young people to ensure that their values and perspectives are reflected in the decisions our government makes.”
The StrongerBC Future Leaders Program is part of B.C.’s Budget 2021 and existing supports and services. Budget 2021 will work to ensure the pandemic does not disrupt the future success of B.C.’s youth. It will do so by creating employment and training opportunities that enable them to participate in innovative, sustainable and inclusive recovery for all British Columbians.