Federal government focuses on youth unemployment
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Unemployed youth across Canada are being offered the job of spending $90 million of the government's money in a new Federal Public Sector Youth Internship Program.
The program was the result of a meeting of the National Liberal Caucus last week and offers 3,000 people between the ages of 15 and 30 the opportunity to obtain work experience through internships offered by host companies, explained Joe Fontana, Member of Parliament for the London North Centre riding and chairman of the National Liberal Caucus.
Fontana said unemployed individuals with either a high school or post-secondary degree will have the opportunity to be recruited by Career Edge, a non-profit organization, for a one-year internship program with various companies. The YMCA will be handling recruitment for applicants without formal degrees.
"The future bodes well for young people who are usually hardest hit with regard to jobs and opportunities," Fontana said, adding the success of similar programs in the past is what led to the introduction of this program.
Yet the official Opposition views the situation differently, said Monte Solberg, chief finance critic for the Reform Party.
Solberg was not only struck by the fact this proposal was out of the blue, he is also concerned the program is only geared to teach people to be civil servants. He also suggested the money for the program may not have been budgeted for by the Liberal government.
"The emphasis should be on getting the economy moving rather than focusing on training," Solberg said. He added numerous training programs will only result in Canada having the best-educated, unemployed people.
Hoops Harrison, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said this is a positive step in tackling the youth unemployment problem, yet a better solution may be to combine all government programs into one unified effort.
"The government is only putting a band-aid on the problem of youth unemployment but it won't stop the bleeding," Harrison said.
Sharon Lee, coordinator of student employment services at Western, said her first reaction to announcements of job creation programs is the proof is in the pudding.
"Internships are a good idea but companies can only do so much to help unemployed youth because they have to think about their bottom line," Lee said.
The Student Development Centre offers both students and graduates the opportunity to view jobs on the Internet employment café which Lee said attracts employement on a global scale.
"We may not be able to create jobs but we can bring students and employers together," she said, adding this is the busiest recruiting year they have experienced with more than a 25 per cent increase in interest from companies from last year.