The province announced a new $5-million Youth Community Partnership program on Monday that aims to match community-service projects to help support unemployed young people.

The program allows communities in B.C. to apply for funding towards a project of their choosing that will employ youth workers, such as trail building, charity work or community clean-ups. 

The community then hires young workers between the ages of 15 to 29 who will receive skills and work experience for future employment.

“We recognize that COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact young people’s prospects for work, which they typically use to leverage future job prospects or to pay for their education or training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, in a statement. 

“Engaging in safe, physically distanced local projects is an incredible opportunity for young people to acquire new skills, earn money and contribute to building back an even better B.C.”

Groups such as non-profit community and environmental organizations, chambers of commerce and Indigenous communities are all encouraged to apply.

Approved projects that run up to 16 weeks receive funds up to $10,000 per young worker. 

The workers also each receive a training stipend up to $2,000 per four-week period, to a maximum of $8,000, for work between June and October 31, 2020.

Program applicants may also be eligible for supports like bus passes, child care, work boots, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for work that incorporates physical distancing and includes no more than 10 young workers per project.

The government says that they are anticipating up to 500 youths and over 50 B.C. communities can benefit from this program.

Funding for this program includes $2 million from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, and $3 million from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, both of which are funded through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement and Labour Market Development Agreement. 

The program is aimed at helping youth return to work after unemployment among workers aged 15 to 24 in the province grew to 28.4 per cent in May—up from 24.2 per cent in April. 

This is an unemployment rate over 20 per cent higher than in May of last year.

Applications for the Youth Community Partnership program will be accepted starting June 29 and can be made at this website.

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