Program Objectives

The objectives of this program are to help youth develop a broader range of skills and knowledge in order to participate in the current and future labour market. Through this program we seek to build responsibility through empowerment.

Program Description

The Skills Link program is delivered over a 16 week period for youth who are unemployed and not receiving employment insurance benefits. The program is divided into two main phases:

  • Phase 1 is a competency based curriculum that fosters self reliance through developing life skills that can be transferred to the workplace. This portion takes place at G.H.Y.S. facilities.
  • Phase 2 consists of a work placement, allowing the youth to participate in on-the-job training, and further develop and enhance employability and occupational skills. This portion of the program takes place at the job placement.

Participants receive income support in the form of an allowance equal to the minimum wage rate for the duration of the program. Throughout the program, employment counsellors work one-on-one to support youth in stabilizing their lives. A few scenarios can arise:

  • Counsellors might need to refer participants to other appropriate services as their individual needs become known. Examples of these services can range from health services to education centres and community resources.
  • Youth might decide to return to school while attending the program. In this case, counsellors will assist in researching appropriate programs as well as in the school application process.

A third phase in the program is expected to occur after the end of week eight where the employer offers long-term employment to the participant.

Phase 1 in Detail – Life Skills and Employment Skills Workshops
The goal of the workshops is to help prepare participants for an effective transition to the labour market and assist them with seeking and obtaining employment. In addition, the workshops help participants to re-connect with education and expand and diversify career prospects.

The structure of the program emulates a workplace setting while fostering personal development including: self-esteem and self-reliance. As well, participants have the opportunity to learn or enhance skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication.

The workshops cover the following mandatory topics:

  • Personality Dimensions
  • Resume and References
  • Cover Letter and Thank-You Letter
  • Mock Interview
  • Educational Planning Workshop
  • Goal Setting
  • Self Directed Search Assessment
  • Self-Esteem Workshop
  • Accountability Workshop
  • Labour Market Information Workshop
  • Getting Support/Community Resources Workshop

While most of the program is delivered in-house, we also provide participants with the opportunity to obtain employment related certification such as First Aid Level 1 and WHMIS -Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. As part of our workshops, speakers from our community facilitate topics in areas such as labour education, tenants rights, diversity, pride speak and legal advocacy.

Phase 2 in Detail - Work Experience
During the second phase of the program, participants will have secured a work placement. The work experience provides youth with opportunities to firm their confidence and attained skills, as well as to continue to develop and enhance employability and occupational skills through practical on-the-job training.

The employment counsellors and job developer work with the participant to find a work placement that meets their goals and interests.

During the full length of the work placement, the employment counsellor will be available for consultation and support for the participant if needed. In addition, the employment counsellor conducts a mid-way evaluation of the participant's overall job performance with the employer and participant. Together they review the challenges and strengths of the partnership, assess if the training plan is being followed by all parties and ultimately assess whether or not the plan needs to be modified.

Phase 3 in Detail – Continued Employment
Upon successful completion of Phase 2 and assuming the youth is in good standing at the job placement, the employer is encouraged and expected to offer the participant long-term employment.

Program Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in the Skills Link program, candidates must meet all the following conditions:

  • Be between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the time of intake/selection
  • Not enrolled in full time schooling
  • Unemployed or underemployed (working less than 16 hours a week)
  • A Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person on whom refugee status has been conferred
  • Legally entitled to work according to the relevant provincial/territorial legislation and regulations
  • Not in receipt of or eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • In need of assistance in order to overcome employment barriers
  • Ability and willingness to attend our program running Monday through Friday during daytime hours

No previous experience or training is required. All you need to bring is commitment, motivation and a willingness to learn and make a positive change in your life.

Program Benefits

By virtue of the flexibility of the Skills Link program design, results will vary according to the level of youth's needs. The main outcomes will focus on the skills acquired and the extent to which the program helped youth realize goals: educational achievement, improved employability or obtainment of employment.

Youth are expected to experience reduced barriers to employment, an increased ability to participate in the labour market and enhanced capacity to make employment related decisions and choices, including returning to school. Some may determine that, following a work experience or a skills enhancement workshop, the best option is for them to return to school. For many of the youth participating in this program this often means returning to complete their secondary school education.

By the end of the Skills Link program participants will have:

  • Assessed their interests, abilities and personality styles
  • Formulated long-term personal goals and achieved an understanding of the steps required to reach them
  • Identified short-term employment goals building on their interests, abilities and experience
  • Learned, through workshops and experience, the skills and attitudes required for job finding and self marketing
  • Learned personal management skills that will enhance their abilities to access and maintain employment
  • Acquired the skills and abilities necessary to conduct an independent job search
  • Gained knowledge of the labour market and expectations of employers
  • Earned two employment-related certificates: First Aid and WHMIS
  • Sought out and obtained a work placement that has potential subsequent employment
  • Been supported during the transition to employment
  • Been assisted as necessary with clothing vouchers to the Gordon House Attic Thrift Store

Other supporting services included in the program involve:

  • One-on-one support while working through the employment action plan
  • Provision for long term follow up support to assist with any arising issues related to education or employment
  • Employer/employee mediation
  • Crisis management assistance
  • Computer and internet access, printing, faxing and telephone availability

Program Sessions Calendar

The Skills Link Program runs four sessions per year. The following dates provide a guideline as to when each 16 week session will take place:

  • Session 1: April to July
  • Session 2: July to October
  • Session 3: October to January
  • Session 4: December to March

For specific dates in a calendar year, please contact us for details.

How to Apply

To apply for the Skills Link program, please take the following steps:

Step One: Contact a Case Manager at a local Employment Resource Centre. The Case Manager will be able to make a referral to our program based on an in-depth assessment of individual needs.

Step Two: Once referred by a Case Manager, the candidate will call us to schedule an appointment for an individual intake (interview) with an employment counsellor. Counsellors review application forms and assess basic eligibility along with the youth's inclination in the following areas:

  • Whether they are motivated to find and keep a job
  • Whether they possess a combination of barriers to employment that put them at risk of long-term dependence on income assistance
  • That they are willing and able to attend all required sessions of the program

Step Three: Once the intake is complete, the employment counsellor will either invite the candidate back for an orientation session or provide an alternative option in the event that an applicant is considered unsuited to the program. Employment counsellors make every effort to provide other suggestions and, if possible make referrals to other services (or refer client back to their Case Manager for other options).

Step Four: Candidates that have been invited to attend the orientation session will be provided with an overview of the program including topics to be covered in classroom and a clear outline of the roles and responsibilities of each participant. This session is mandatory and the final class list will be selected among those in attendance. If selected, the participant will be asked to sign a Participant Contract- agreeing to abide by Gordon House Youth S.E.A.R.Ch. program expectations and policies.

Note: Those not selected will be re-directed back to their Case Manager to be provided with alternative program options, or will be placed on a waiting list for the next session.

Step Five: The selected candidates must arrive to their first day of class so they can begin the next chapter in their journey to success, having in mind that success is as much about attitude as it is aptitude!

"Youth S.E.A.R.Ch. has provided me with a life coach that allowed me to develop and achieve my goals. Thanks!"