by Ethan Paquet
Connection 2 Employment PEI, a division of East Prince Youth Development Centre, is in place to create a brighter, healthier future for youth, families, and the community.
The centre in Summerside operates as an umbrella of services for youth, providing resources, information, and skills to enhance their lives and employment future.
Many youth take on a part-time or summer job as a way to earn extra money, gain experience, and learn valuable skills. For others, a job might be the only way for themselves and/or their family to make ends meet.
Connection 2 Employment (C2EPEI) offers numerous resources, information, and skills to youth, including computer and Internet access, resumé and cover letter help, job interview preparation, job search support, seminars and programs, and more.
“For instance, we are here to help students who have left school without completing grade 12 and need support in finding employment or considering their options,” says Lacey Crozier, Career Practitioner with C2EPEI.
The centre helps bridge the gap to employment by providing group-based training sessions, resource connections, on-the-job training opportunities, reality checks, and positive support to participants ages 15 and over.
“Participants can test out a variety of work options to get an idea of what they might like to do once the program is over,” says Lacey.
Once a youth joins C2EPEI as a client, they can meet with a career practitioner to discuss career plans, personal goals, and more.
“We do one-on-one case management, and we make referrals to other programs. We can also help with things such as SkillsPEI applications, for Career Connect, Training PEI, Graduate Mentorship Program, and Employ PEI. If people are looking to do their GED, we can certainly support them with their educational journey.”
At the centre, program participants can earn a variety of certifications, including First Aid/CPR, WHMIS, Food Safety, and more.
“It’s especially great for those who have never worked before and have no idea what they want to do, because they can get a feel for many different options.”
Lacey says the goal is to support clients to move past their barriers in the right way. “We do everything in our power to help our young clients move forward. Staff want to help.”
Most people make the decision to leave high school because of barriers in their lives. “Not completing high school is a big barrier to future employment success. If a student is getting to the point that they might leave school, we can help by putting some supports into place for them before they fall between the cracks.”
The centre offers the following programs for youth:
The SEAM/STAR Program is a summer program for students ages 15 to 17 who are returning to high school in the fall. The program encourages youth to complete Grade 12 and continue on to post-secondary education.
“Participants get to earn some certifications and try out different jobs. We also tackle things like resume and cover letter development and job interview preparation, and we get them more comfortable with computer use and the proper ways to job search.”
The Solutions to Employment Program is for those ages 15 to 30 who are unemployed and looking to make positive changes in their lives. Supports for childcare and travel are available for those who attend.
“It offers many of the same options as our other programs, but there is a larger focus on mental health. We work to make sure their mental health is at a place where they feel comfortable to explore employment opportunities.”
When the courses are completed, C2EPEI staff stay involved with clients to ensure they are happy with their current situation, and to help navigate some of the tougher barriers.
“Once a client has completed a program and is ready to find work, childcare can be hard to find, so we try to help. We also make the centre a very comfortable place for our clients who have children. They can bring their kids along when they come for drop-in help or to meet one-on-one.
“We encourage youth and/or their families to reach out to the centre. We will work with each individual to assist them in finding the answers they need.”
C2PEI is funded by the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Agreements