Taber Youth Employment program covers many gamuts
The Taber Youth Employment Program exists to help youth overcome barriers to employment.
“Youth that are 15-30 years of age who have barriers to employment are eligible to participate in the program,” E. Jane Brenner, the Executive Director of Taber and District Community Adult Learning, said. “barriers include, but are not limited to, challenges faced by recent immigrant youth, youth with disabilities, single parent youth, youth who have not completed high school, Indigenous youth, and youth living in rural or remote areas.”
Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association, Brenner says, runs the program, and they are required to recruit and screen youth who may need the program. Brenner says that the Skills Link Program is funded through the Federal Government and is a component of the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy (YES).
“The Skills Link program helps youth overcome barriers to employment, develop a broad range of skills and knowledge in order to participate in the current and future labour market and to promote education and skills as being key to labour market participation,” Brenner said.
The program is run by paid staff and always has more people interested in participating that can be accommodated into the program. Each day in the program begins with those enrolled participating in 20 minute “Jump Start” group-based activities that include leadership training, reflective-learning concepts, and creative arts motivational exercises.
From there, participants involve themselves in activities that teach them various skills including ‘document use’, which is learning to fill out essential paperwork properly. Participants will also engage in writing activities that including helping them understand themselves better, improve their communication skills, and help them prepare for work experience.
Activities involving oral communication are also part of the program and are intended to teach participants interview skills, and help them learn about oral histories. Numeracy activities include lessons about budgeting, spending habits, time sheets, making meals according to a budget, and nutrition.
Another skillset participants engage in developing is the ability to work with others in various environments. The activities involved include learning and developing integrity/honesty, employment standards, non-verbal communication, listening, commitment to an employer, human rights, dress and appearance, and accepting feedback.
Other activities within the skillset involve learning about sexual harassment, courtesy, work/life balance, relationship building, valuing management, having a positive attitude, adaptability, learning/practicing independence, taking initiative, time management, stress management, and business etiquette.
“Results of these exercises showed improved focus, increased team building, improved problem-solving skills and enhanced leadership qualities,” Brenner said.
Youth involved in the program take part in seven weeks of Group Based Employability in class training and 12 weeks of Work Experience. They are paid minimum wage while in the program.
“We will strive to increase the essential and employability skills of 52 youth over a three-year period,” Brenner said.
The Taber Youth Employment Program’s objectives, Brenner says, are to increase employability skills in youth ages 15-30 through an eightweek group based employability skills program; to provide work experience for youth ages 15-30 through a nineweek work experience; to develop support networks for youth through the program; to increase the essential and employability skills of the youth; to increase the self-confidence of the youth; and to inform youth of postsecondary options.
Brenner says that businesses both in town and in the general area are supportive of the program and supply work placements for the youth. After the placement is completed, Brenner says that many youth are hired as employees after the work placement is completed.
Jiffy Lube; The Onion Restaurant; Clearview Lodge Assisted Living; M.D. of Taber Emergency Services; Western Country RV, the Town of Taber’s IT Department; Luigi’s Pizza; Heritage Inn; Taber Public Library; and Riverbend Rock products all successfully participated in the program’s last intake period.
“The program is life changing for youth. It gives them direction, a purpose and work experience to assist them in becoming employed or returning to school,” Brenner said.