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If it seems as though you are seeing a large number of ‘Help Wanted’ ads in Huron County, it’s not your imagination. The unemployment rate in the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula economic region, which includes Huron County, sits at 3.2 per cent at the moment, which is the lowest rate in the province. The pool of skilled workers is growing smaller, which means more and more employers are turning to youth to fill their vacant positions. At the same time, even though the unemployment rate for all of Ontario sits at about 4.4 per cent, the unemployment rate for youth is significantly higher at just over 11 per cent.

While our local businesses need workers, what they need even more are employment-ready workers, and many employers are finding that some of our youth are falling short in this department. Consequently, though there may be jobs available, there is also increasing employee turnover. What does this mean? Basically, it means that if you’re not employment-ready, you won’t be employed for long, even in today’s job market.

What does it mean to be employment-ready? It means being able to independently find, acquire, and keep employment. It means presenting your employer with the skills necessary to learn quickly and succeed in your new job. This might include hands-on, technical skills, but more often it relates to soft skills, such as the ability to effectively communicate with customers and coworkers, the ability to act and appear professional at all times, and the ability to instil confidence in your employer that you are, indeed, the right person for the job.

The Centres for Employment & Learning in Huron County offer several programs and services to youth to assist them in becoming employment-ready, two of which are outlined below.

Our Youth Job Connection (YJC) program starts on October 22 in Goderich. This program offers 60 hours of paid pre-employment workshops (resume and cover letter writing, career decision making, job search strategies, and essential/workplace skills) followed by a paid work placement. Workshops are interactive and fun. To qualify for this program, you must be between the ages of 15 and 29, unemployed, not in full time education, and eligible to work in Ontario. For more information, pop in to a Centre near you or contact Alysha Dowson at yjc.cel@ed.amdsb.ca or 519-235-0471 ext. 2214.

A similar program (though federally and not provincially funded) is called Reach for Success. This program takes place at our Clinton office and the next intake starts November 19. Reach for Success offers 120 hours of paid workshops followed by an 8 week job placement. Youth (ages 15-30) in this program have the opportunity to obtain their certifications in First Aid/CPR, Safe Food Handling, WHMIS, and Smart Serve, all of which may be useful additions to a resume or future job application. For more information, contact Kelly Harrison at rfs.cel@ed.amdsb.ca or 519-482-1700 ext. 2103.

Today’s job market is a great opportunity for youth who might be lacking in hands-on experience to get a foot in the door with local employers. Make sure you’re employment-ready so you can take on this challenge. For more information about the many programs and services offered, please visit a Centre for Employment & Learning in either Goderich, Clinton, Exeter, Seaforth, or Wingham. http://www.thecentreforemploymentandlearning.ca

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