As a young person, I know that searching for your very first job or getting your career started can seem overwhelming. With limited work history, it can be very challenging to find meaningful employment. One way to set yourself apart and increase your employability is to participate in a Skills Link program.
The Service Canada website explains that Skills Link programs are “designed to help youth facing barriers to employment develop a broad range of skills, knowledge and work experience”. In order to be eligible for Skills Link program, you must be: between the ages of 15 and 30, legally able to work in Canada, unemployed, out school, hold Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or refugee status, and not recieving EI benefits. Some programs have been specifically tailored to meet the needs of single parents, youth with Aboriginal heritage, recent immigrants, those living in rural areas, youth with disabilities, and those who have not completed high school. (Service Canada website – http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/epb/yi/yep/newprog/sl_faq.shtml)
There are many Skills Link programs run by organizations in British Columbia that offer a variety of job preparation workshops, work placements, funded training or individualized support for youth entering the labour market. Skills Link programs range from a few days to almost a year and often provide a training wage to youth who participate. In today’s labour market, employers are focused in hiring individuals with practical skills and relevant experience in their industry. Participating in Skills Link programs provide you with the foundation you need to excel in the workplace by developing those skills, providing you with invaluable experience and in some cases, helping you access job-related training. In addition to these employment-related benefits, they also help build self-esteem and confidence that you can succeed in a competitive job market.
Types Of Skills Link Programs
1. Group Based Employability Skills: If you are not yet ready to enter the job market directly, you may benefit from group workshops designed to develop transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, and organization.
2. Employability Skills through Community Service: These programs are designed for youth with barriers to work, gain skills, and increase job-readiness while contributing to and building ties with the community.
3. Employability Skills through Work Experience: Through a combination of workshops and hands-on job placements, you can gradually enter the job market while receiving individualized support and coaching to help you succeed.
4. Employability Skills through Entrepreneurship: Interested in starting your own business or becoming self employed? You can receive support, training, and mentorship to help you get started and effectively develop a business plan.
5. Work Experience: If you have a limited work history, these programs help you connect with real employers and gain paid, practical, on-the-job experience in a variety of fields.
6. Individual Skill Enhancement: Employers are increasingly looking to hire employees with specific skills and knowledge. To help you stand out in the competitive labour market, Individual Skill Enhancement programs providing funding for you to enroll in short-term (12 weeks or less) job related training programs. In addition, participants can apply to receive training wages, funding for bus tickets, books, and supplies required for the course.
To receive a referral to a Skills Link program, stop by your local WorkBC Employment Centre and meet with a Case Manager. You can find your local WorkBC Centre by visiting www.workbc.ca. Your Case Manager can help you to identify your employment goals, needs, and barriers to work. They can provide you with information on Skills Link programs and refer you to appropriate programs.
Beth French is the Skill Enhancement Coach at YES to Work, a division of Hope Bridge Services. YES to Work is a Skills Link program providing Individual Skill Enhancements for youth between 15-30 in the Lower Mainland. YES to Work can cover a combination of tuition, training wages, transportation costs and materials and supplies for youth attending short-term (12 weeks or less) training programs. If you are a youth in need of training, you can contact them by visiting their website at www.hopebridgeservices.org, following them on Twitter @yestowork, send Beth an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-498-4673.