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NCDS out to fill summer program

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Northern Community Development Services (NCDS) is seeking participants aged 15-18 for its Youth Job Connection summer program.

The goal of the program is to take youths who are returning to high school in the fall, or going on to post-secondary education, that do not have a summer job and have barriers preventing them from finding one.

YJC is part of the new Employment Ontario programs, funded by the provincial government, aimed at employing youths.

It focuses on students who face challenging life circumstances and may need help transitioning from school to work.

“What's nice about the Youth Job Connection summer program is that we'll set them up with a placement, preferably in something that they would like to do [in the future],” said NCDS marketing co-ordinator Sarah Marusyk.

Ideally, they need 14 students in order to run this program, which they didn't have a problem with last summer.

But this summer seems a little different.

“There are a lot of jobs out there right now and youth are finding them with ease,” noted Marusyk.

“We just finished the first round of five [students], which were all successful, so we really only need nine more participants,” added Cathy Tysz, the youth job co-ordinator who runs the YJC program.

“If there is anyone out there looking for their first job, come and see us,” Marusyk stressed.

As well as being set up with a paid placement, students in the YJC program have to go through 24 hours of workshops beforehand.

These 24 hours are paid, as well, and are split up over a four-day span.

“The minute they walk through my door, they're on the pay roll,” said Tysz.

“We treat it as if they're on the job.”

The students learn different employability skills, such as their expected behaviour in the workplace, their rights as a worker, and basic health and safety training.

“We are teaching them how to behave and what is expected of them,” Tysz explained.

"So that they walk out of here employable.

“We teach them to write their own résumé and cover letter, and make it passionate to a job that they really want,” she added.

Tysz also interviews them at the end of the sessions for the job they will start for the summer.

The students are expected to do lots of research on the business and prepare for the interview.

The whole interview is taped, which Tysz then plays back privately with each student.

This way, the students can self-evaluate and get a confidence boost, she reasoned.

“I teach them to have self-esteem, be assertive, and take pride in who they are,” Tysz said.

“It's not just preparing them for a summer job," she stressed. "It's preparing them for a career when they finish school.”

Both Tysz and Marusyk said most of the time, they aren't looking for jobs to fill.

Rather, they are reaching out to employers who create positions for the students.

“We can help pay part of their wages and training,” noted Tysz.

“That's where we get the leverage to say, 'Hey, would you be able to take this person if we pay their wages for four weeks.'”

Tysz added there are lots of wonderful small businesses in the community that take on students and train them.

“A lot of them don't last the whole summer, they'll last a week,” Tysz conceded.

“But they get a chance to touch the labour market,” Marusyk said.

“The get a feel for what it's like to actually have a job and responsibilities.”

Barriers that may keep students from getting a job can include their academic background, run-ins with the youth justice system, or even the fact they don't have a car or driver's license.

“One of the biggest barriers is that [the student] doesn't have their Grade 12 [diploma],” Tysz explained.

“Some of them are in Grade 10 but they are 19 years old.”

“It is important that youth know there is something out there that can help them get a leg up,” said Marusyk.

“Were giving these kids a boost and a chance to start working.”

The next session of workshops for the YJC program will run June 27-30.

Anyone interested in taking part in the program can contact Marusyk or Tysz at NCDS (274-2282).

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