PELC’s INSPIRE program taking applicants for fall courses

INSPIRED - A few students who participated in the INSPIRE program are featured at PELC's AGM in 2019. (Sarah Williams/Gazette Staff)

Prince Edward Learning Centre in Picton is announcing an application intake for their next under 30 employment and skills development program course slated for this fall

Inspire is an employment training program run by Prince Edward Learning Centre that works with youth looking to re-engage with education, employment, or training.

For example, Jeremy, who had not worked for a couple of years, recently completed a 16-week placement, and now has the job of his dreams doing tech. 

Hope got support to put her car back on the road, earned cash and learned new skills at a retail placement, and just completed a successful first year at Loyalist College in the ECE program. 

The program matches youth, ages 30 and under, with the sector they want to work in and helps to open doors.  Employers mentor participants, while participants develop new skills and knowledge over the 20-week program. A new cohort is being planned for the fall and youth are encouraged to contact PELC to get involved. 

The three-year project is funded through Service Canada and recently staff have done some mid-term evaluating on where they are at in helping youth gain sustainable employment, or to go back to school to pursue their education.

“Crunching numbers, we are seeing trends in who the program helps and how it helps youth in PEC,” said Inspire Coordinator Christine Durant. “It’s interesting that over 70 per cent of the youth in the program self-identify as having learning challenges, and/or physical and mental health challenges like anxiety. Anxiety and depression is often disclosed at intake and a program like this can be so beneficial not just in gaining work experience but also in gaining confidence and esteem.”

PELC is an adult education and training centre and Inspire participants are encouraged to connect with building on their education while in the program. A number of participants finish their high school credits while working at a placement. 

  • 55 per cent of participants begin the program without having finished high school 
  • 23 per cent have graduated from high school but not from post-secondary
  • 17 per cent of participants have completed college or university  

An important part of the local Inspire program is helping youth with life stabilization. It’s difficult to get to work without transportation, while stressing about housing being in arrears, and difficult to work if you do not have construction boots for the job site. The program helps support youth with those stabilizations. So far 95 per cent of all youth coming through the program have been assisted with some kind of life stabilization supports. 

“Such supports have included things like groceries, rent, transportation, clothing and safety equipment for work. It is difficult to get to the job site when you don’t have enough food to sustain yourself, or the proper clothing for the job,” explains Durant. 

“The program is now in its 5th year, and we continue to see the impact that having a bit of support to get into a sector youth want to be working in can have. For some it changes their career paths, for others it gets them on a track, for many it’s transformative,” added PECL Executive Director Kathy Kennedy.

Inspire participants have worked in legal, administrative, journalism, municipal government, culinary, tech, skilled trades, retail, education, social services, janitorial and customer service sectors. 

NEET youth, an acronym for not in education, employment, or training, is a concern across the province.

As many as 12 per cent of youth are in this category and are associated with high costs to health care, social assistance, homelessness, and crime. The cost of NEET youth is considered to be as high as $1.92 billion a year to the province. Loss of potential earnings of NEET youth is approximated at $6.4 billion annually. Findings demonstrate there is a big impact on the province and on youth themselves in potential lost wages. 

To get involved with the program as a youth participant or employer contact 613 476 1811 or email inspire@pelc.ca 

-Staff