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SMU program to help youth develop employment skills moves online

The objectives of the Options Youth Program are to help employers cover the cost of training while helping priority youth overcome multiple barriers to employment
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Saint Mary's University (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

NEWS RELEASE
SAINT MARY'S UNIVERSITY
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The Saint Mary's University program that helps Nova Scotian youth overcome barriers to employment and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make a successful transition to work or return to school is moving online. 

"The Options Youth Program has been running since 2002, funded by the Government of Canada," says Brennan Daley, a project manager with the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre, who oversees the program. "Traditionally, it's been a face-to-face training program, but in 2019 we applied for funding to move the program online. With the current situation with COVID-19, the online version is even more timely."  

The Options Youth Program is a Nova Scotia wide employment wage subsidy program, facilitated by the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre and Enactus Saint Mary's and funded by the Government of Canada through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. The objectives of Options Youth are to help employers cover the cost of training while helping priority youth (age 15-30) overcome multiple barriers to employment, and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make a successful transition to the labour market or return to school. For participants who need assistance to access online learning resources are available. 

"This program is an invaluable resource for Nova Scotian youth to develop the life skills and the practical skills necessary to find meaningful employment after the program is finished," says Ossama Nasrallah Bcomm'18, co-owner of The Harbour Watercraft. "As a new business owner, it is very rewarding for myself and my team to help these youth and watch them progress with their time here." 

The program consists of a 6 to 10-week skills session followed by a 20-week work experience. During the skills session, participants will take part in employability skills training online. They will have access to a milestone-based curriculum that is tailored to their individual needs and focusing on essentials skills. Participants are paired with a case manager from their area and an Enactus student that will act as a mentor and support throughout the program. Once this is completed, they will move to the 20-week work experience. 

"This is a great program for both youth participants and employers," says Michael Sanderson, director of the Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre. "It helps connect priority youth with businesses looking for workers. We have seen great success over the years, and we are very appreciative of the continued support of the Government of Canada." 

“Our government recognizes the importance of investing in Canada’s youth and helping break down barriers to employment. Programs like the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy gives young Canadians the support they need to launch a meaningful career, and are especially important during these trying times. Our government’s investment in the Options Youth Program will go a long way in helping Nova Scotia’s youth.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion 

The Government of Canada has invested $786,705 in the Options Youth Program over the next three years through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. The new online version of the program launches later this summer. 

For more information, visit optionsonline.ca.
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