PEI

Facing 'job crunch,' P.E.I. lowers age for summer work program

The P.E.I. government has lowered the age for eligibility of its summer jobs program from 16 to 15 for 2020.

‘We need to put people into the workplace’

Youth will apply directly for the jobs they want this summer. (CBC)

The P.E.I. government has lowered the age for eligibility of its summer jobs program from 16 to 15 for 2020.

Jamie Fox, the minister responsible for the Jobs for Youth program, said the change aligns the program with federal policy, and helps solve a worker shortage in the province.

"We do have a job crunch, you know, there's unemployment rate where we need to put people into the workplace," said Fox.

"It gives children an opportunity in the workplace a little bit sooner and to get that experience."

P.E.I. has the lowest youth unemployment rate in the country, at 8.4 per cent. The national rate is 11.1 per cent.

The province is also moving the deadline for employers to apply to the program, from April 30 to March 31. Employers told the government the April deadline was too late in the year to get summer workers, Fox said.

Cutting government out of hiring process

The application process will also be different this year.

Instead of applying to the government, and the government finding a job, youth will apply directly to employers.

"It allows the student to find a job if he wants to further his career instead of us trying to find it," said Fox.

There is no target for the number of jobs to be created by the program, says Jamie Fox. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

Cutting the government out of the middle of the process will also help teach youth valuable job search skills, he said.

The Jobs for Youth Program is for people aged 15 to 29. Last year it helped employ 389 youth.

The program covers 50 per cent of wages for businesses, and full wages for non-profits.

Fox said there is no target for the number of positions in the program. It's budgeted at $1.4 million, but if there is a lot of demand that could be revisited, he said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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