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'STTEP' in the right direction

Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes was on hand at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Thursday to announce federal government Skills Link funding is now available to help local youth gain vital work experience.
Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes was on hand at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Thursday to announce federal government Skills Link funding is now available to help local youth gain vital work experience.

The Sault YMCA will receive $262,132 from the Skills Link program.

The funding is aimed specifically at youth who face barriers to employment, through the YMCA’s Starting Transitions Toward Employment Program (STTEP).

YMCA Chief Executive Officer Kim Caruso, pictured with STTEP coordinator Kathy McKee, told “Some of the barriers could be that they didn’t complete their Grade 12, another could be young pregnancy, transportation issues, all of the issues that face our youth today.”

An official federal government media release states: “Skills Link helps youth facing barriers to employment—including youth who are single parents, youth with disabilities, young newcomers and youth in rural and remote areas.”

It is a 29-week program, designed to benefit 32 participants in total. 

Four groups of eight participants each will take part in two concurrent 14-week programs.

Those programs began in early December and will run through to June 20, 2014.

Caruso explained that each 14-week program is divided into two different segments.

“The first four weeks they do in class sessions (at the YMCA)…they learn things like Smart Serve, standard First Aid and CPR, resume writing and interview skills, then the next 10 weeks they’re in the workplace.”

Caruso added: “While they’re here we encourage healthy living, so we do some training in the fitness centre and teach them about physical fitness and nutrition.”   

Job placements are made throughout the community, with paycheques for participating youth coming from Thursday’s funding announced by Hayes.

Caruso said: “It isn’t employers coming to us for the placements, we actually help them seek their own placements.”

STTEP coordinator Kathy McKee added: “We give them leadership and guidance, and sometimes if we have to we’ll make some phone calls on their behalf, but they usually do it on their own.”

McKee told us the YMCA is seeking participants for the program from other local employment agencies and Ontario Works, but added that youth facing challenges in finding employment may drop in to meet with her at the YMCA at 235 McNabb Street, or call her at 705-949-3133 to see if they qualify for the Skills Link program.

Program participants must be 15 to 30 years old, out of school, a Canadian citizen, legally entitled to work in Canada and not in receipt of EI for the past 5 years.

McKee said participants have, in the past, found placements “mostly in the service industry, cleaning, we had some in manufacturing at some point, and some seasonal work at places like golf courses.”

“These are all entry level positions to help them get that crucial, initial work experience.”

“Some of them have retained employment on a full-time or part-time basis, or some have gone back to school.”

Hayes said Thursday: “As a government we’re aware that many youth are struggling to get their foot in the door, we’re aware that many have heard the tune ‘no experience no job, no job no experience.”

“I’m pleased that young Canadians in the Sault will benefit from this initiative to connect young people with jobs.”

The full text of a release from Bryan Hayes follows.
Government of Canada helps youth in Sault Ste. Marie get jobs
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON - Bryan Hayes, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), today announced support that will equip young Canadians in Sault Ste. Marie with the skills and work experience needed to get jobs.
“Our government is committed to creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity all across Canada,” said Minister of State Bergen. “Initiatives like Skills Link will help connect youth with jobs while ensuring that Canada’s economy benefits from the skills and talents of young Canadians. By investing in youth today, we are making sure they can contribute to our long-term prosperity.”
“Since 2006, the Government has helped more than half a million young Canadians develop the skills they need to help them succeed in the job market,” said MP Hayes. “I am pleased to announce that young Canadians in the Sault and area will benefit from our initiatives to connect young people with jobs.”
Skills Link helps youth facing barriers to employment - including youth who are single parents, youth with disabilities, young newcomers and youth in rural and remote areas - to develop the skills and gain the experience needed to find a job or the confidence to return to school. Since 2006, the Skills Link initiative has helped over 179 000 youth get jobs or return to school.
The Sault Ste. Marie YMCA is receiving more than $262,132.00 from the Skills Link program to help youth facing barriers to employment get the skills and knowledge they need to find jobs.
Over a 29 week period, the Young Men's Christian Association of Sault Ste. Marie (YMCA SSM) will provide Group-based Employability Skills (GBES) and Work Experience (WE) to 32 youth with multiple barriers to employment in order to help them make a successful transition to the labour market or return to school.
“The Sault Ste. Marie YMCA is benefitting greatly from the generous assistance of the Federal Government,” said Kim Caruso, Executive Director of the YMCA.  “Youth in the Sault who face obstacles to employment are getting the help they need to find work and support themselves.  I am so excited about the YMCA’s involvement in this excellent program.”
Youth employment programs are part of the Government of Canada’s strategy to connect Canadians with available jobs. 
Economic Action Plan 2013 proposes new measures to equip Canadians with the skills and training they need to fill skills shortages and succeed in the Canadian labour market.
These include the Canada Job Grant, which will invest in skills training for unemployed and underemployed Canadians, better ensuring they are qualified to fill the high-quality, well-paying jobs that are available. Economic Action Plan 2013 is also creating opportunities for apprentices and providing support to under-represented groups such as Canadians with disabilities, Aboriginal people, newcomers and youth. 
To learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit
The Government of Canada is helping youth plan their careers, learn new skills and find jobs through enhanced online services available at