September 13, 2017 7:00 pm
Updated: September 13, 2017 7:07 pm

Ottawa pledges $1.3 million to new project giving 154 local youth skills training, work experience

Courtesy Peter Fragiskatos via Facebook
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More than $1.3 million in funding is being provided by the federal government to a new project that will see more than 100 London youth with employment-related barriers receive hands-on work experience and job skills training.

The project, announced Wednesday by London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos on behalf of Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, will be conducted by the Leads Employment Services, a local non-profit which works to provide services for those with disabilities and/or employment-related barriers, according to the group’s website.

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The $1,337,380 in funding provided by Ottawa is coming through the Skills Link program under the government’s larger Youth Employment Strategy. The program aims to provide employment skills and work experience to youth with employment barriers, including single parents, those with disabilities, Indigenous youth, and young newcomers, among others.

The project will see 154 London youth take part in a 13-week program that will include two weeks of training and 11 weeks of work experience in jobs related to sales, services, hospitality, retail, and administration, according to the announcement.

Speaking at Wednesday’s announcement, Fragiskatos said building a bright future, a just society, and a middle class required focusing on all youth.

“We’re talking about youth that have mental health challenges, youth who have physical disabilities, youth that are dealing with problems of autism, for example,” Fragiskatos said. “You can understand how youth who are faced with those struggles and challenges face particular barriers to employment.”

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Fragiskatos said with the funding, Leads will essentially act as a conduit between those youth and local employers.

“It’s not up to government to go out and find those opportunities, we need to help organizations that are doing it already,” he said. “Leads has a long history of doing that, as does an organization called ATN. Just a few weeks ago, we announced funding to ATN, a London-based organization, to do the same work.”

“Government can’t do everything,” he continued. “We need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to facilitate support, and that means reaching out to organizations and listening to what they need and delivering.”

The federal government says it invests more than $330 million annually into the Youth Employment Strategy to help those 15-30 years of age obtain job skills training and work experience to transition to the workplace.

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