More than 5,000 young people across B.C. will have access to skills training and well-paid jobs through the Provincial Government’s StrongerBC Future Leaders Program.

The B.C. Government said it has earmarked almost $45-million for the initiative.

“This pandemic has set back many young people from starting their careers. We’re providing first-rate training and in-demand jobs that can lead to fulfilling, long-term careers,” said Premier John Horgan. “Providing young adults with opportunities for stable, good jobs can change the direction of their lives, while helping British Columbia come back stronger and more resilient.”

B.C. said the program will provide young people with training, internships, job co-ops and jobs in the growing tech sector, environment and natural resource fields.

Four ministries are involved in the Future Leaders Program, including the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

“Young people continue to be disproportionally impacted in this pandemic. They have experienced higher rates of unemployment and the nature of the economy has been changing rapidly,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This new program creates opportunities that young people need. It takes an inclusive approach that is tailored to the future economy, to ensure that Indigenous, Black, people of colour, women and people facing socio-economic barriers are able to participate in our growing economy and help build a stronger B.C.”

According to the province, young people face higher unemployment rates early in their careers as they try to build experience, they are also often the first to feel the impacts of economic shifts.

“During the pandemic, youth unemployment peaked at 29%, over 15 percentage points above the provincial average. As of March 2021, youth unemployment sits at 12.1%, above the general unemployment rate in B.C. of 6.9%,” said the B.C. Government.

Each ministry involved is contributing its own investment towards job development in relevant sectors.

The Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation is investing $22 million to fund a minimum of 4,500 training spots and paid internships in two programs.

More than $11 million will be invested from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for over 220 jobs in the Natural Resource Youth Employment program and the Recreation Sites and Trails program.

With the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, $4.6 million will go to create 37 positions with BC Parks and 46 positions with the Conservation Officer Service, to work in a variety of fields to gain experience and help protect the environment.

Additionally, Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston, has been appointed as the premier’s special advisor on youth.

The B.C. Government said Anderson will serve as the point person for young people, providing a platform for them to engage directly with the Province.

“Our youth are the future of this province, and our government is working hard to give them every support they need to succeed. The job opportunities that come from this program will help young people thrive in every corner of the province,” Anderson said. “I am honoured to take on the role as the premier’s special advisor on youth, and I am excited to engage with young people to ensure that their values and perspectives are reflected in the decisions our government makes.”