So it's the same David Burns: good to know. I knew you looked awfully familiar. It was either you or your doppelgänger on Wednesday.
In person we have, from the East Prince Youth Development Centre Inc., Barb Broome, executive director. From the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française we have Justin Johnson, chair. From Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi du Québec we have Rudy Humbert, adviser, entrepreneurship, volunteer work, and volunteer action; and Elise Violletti, adviser, special projects and personal and professional autonomy.
Welcome to all of you. Thank you for being here or joining us via video conference. Each group has seven minutes for opening statements.
First up, we'll go to Mr. Dan Tadic from the Canadian Welding Association.
The next seven minutes are yours, sir.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you all for the opportunity to speak with you today.
I serve as the executive director of the Canadian Welding Association, which is a part of the Canadian Welding Bureau, better known as the CWB Group.
Since 1947, the CWB has been an independent, non-profit organization funded solely by the industry it serves. With offices in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, the CWB's team of 160 staff provides services right across the country. The majority of our services are provided on the shop floor, where we provide guidance and oversight to multiple industry sectors involved in welding. The CWB is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada as a certification body, and it is the only national organization with a primary focus on welding.
Today, the CWB has over 6,000 welding fabrication companies certified across Canada and around the world. Our primary mission is to help protect the safety of Canadians. To support this mission, CWB provides services not only to Canadian organizations but also to organizations around the world that supply welded structures and products to Canada. One of the biggest issues facing Canadian welding is that this sector is in the midst of a skills shortage. With an aging demographic and a strong demand for welding professionals in several industries, including mining and natural resources, an active effort must be made to attract young people to the industry and to ensure that we have the trained labour force required to meet the needs of industry now and in the future.
Skilled tradespeople earn their living in a variety of work environments. Some work in clean and pristine plants, while others may work in conventional plants or outdoors on pipelines or various construction projects. Regardless of the work environment or the field of trade, safety is of the utmost importance. Both employers and employees must meet and observe proper safe practices.
To ensure that Canada can continue to produce highly trained skilled tradespeople, our industry recognized that a national training curriculum for welders would provide colleges and other training institutions with a current and comprehensive approach to create a first class generation of skilled trades.
In response, the CWB has invested $3 million in a new and comprehensive national training curriculum resource for the welding trade. Known as Acorn, the program was developed with input from both industry and educational sectors, and it was launched in 2015. The Acorn training curriculum includes components that can be used at both the secondary school level and the post-secondary level right across the country.
At the secondary school level, the CWB has committed to provide this training curriculum resource to provincial boards of education at no charge. This is to help ensure that the next generation of potential welders receive a world-class learning experience that assists them in making educated choices about the long-term career opportunities in the welding profession.
This unique approach to learning includes extensive use of virtual reality and immersive learning approaches to both fully engage the students and ensure that concepts are understood and retained.
Another area in which CWB is providing leadership is in our industry, in the area of apprenticeship. According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, only one in five, or 19%, of employers take on apprentices. The CWB is undertaking a new initiative to engage more employers in training and to improve the welding apprenticeship programs across Canada as part of a five-year study. Apprenticeship programs are provincially regulated and have some variances. The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship is working to harmonize trades training across Canada, and welding is one of the trades that are being harmonized currently.
Canada is undergoing a critical skilled trades turnaround as the baby boomer generation is retiring in great numbers, and employers are experiencing difficulties in finding skilled welders and metal fabricators in particular. Poaching is an issue for many, as those who can afford to pay more will find skilled welders at a premium rate. This approach will only drive the cost of labour up, and it is not a long-term skills shortage solution.
The CWB recognizes this challenge faced by our members and the welding industry to remain competitive and profitable in today's challenging economic environment and global marketplace.
Through our enhanced welding apprenticeship training initiative, we would like to help employers attract and retain employees with the right skills, encourage continuous skill upgrades to take advantage of new processes and technologies, develop a culture of innovation and creativity, and recognize the connections linking quality, productivity, and profitability.
The CWB feels that more can be done to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the welding industry in Canada through better leveraging Canada's welding apprenticeship programs. The CWB wants to enlist industry's involvement in this new initiative to address the shared industry challenges by working co-operatively.
This fall we're rolling out the enhanced welder apprenticeship training initiative, and the ambitious goals of this initiative are to increase apprenticeship enrolment, increase completion numbers of welding apprenticeships by 30% over a five-year period, improve the welding skills of apprentices by providing a broad range of training opportunities in a variety of workplaces, and increase the level of employer engagement and participation in apprenticeship training.
We plan to set up industry consortiums, one in each province to start with, consisting of about a dozen employers in each. We plan to add more consortiums as the demand grows. Initially, the industry consortium will be set up in Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Moncton, Halifax, Charlottetown, and St. John's. Our program includes a five-year study of a new method of apprenticeship training, and includes the rotation of apprentices every 12 months or as agreed by the employers. We believe that this new model will better engage apprentices in learning welding skills, expose them to a variety of welding processes and products, and allow them to learn from a large number of skilled tradesmen.
As part of our research project, we will provide labour market analysis, with forecasts for welder demand by 2025, and conduct employer and apprentice surveys to gauge their satisfaction and solicit their feedback on how the program could be improved. We plan to provide regular reports of our progress and share this information with industry and government.
Our industry is embracing this initiative. We feel it's crucial to the long-term viability of our industry. We're looking for partners to commit to a co-operative training program as part of our five-year study on how a new collaborative model of apprenticeship innovation and training will ensure a strong and well-trained pool of skilled welders for our future success.
Thank you very much.
I'd like to use my seven-minute statement to touch on three things. First, to describe the initiatives under way at KPU and in the Lower Mainland that might be of interest to the committee; second, to identify a couple of other contacts who might have interesting information and who you might like to speak to; and third, to identify some possible future directions for federal policy in this area.
First, KPU is a polytechnic institution, which means that work-integrated learning and pathways to the workforce aren't just priorities for us; they're key purposes. Enabling students to move through their education into appropriate, meaningful work based on what they've learned in their university curriculum is absolutely essential to our mission. That applies to everything from our welding programs and millwright programs to our liberal arts programs and our science programs.
In pursuit of those goals and values, we have co-operative education experiences, field schools, work-integrated learning experiences, service learning, and partnerships with over 300 local non-profit organizations.
My interest in this area is, however, much more specific. One of the things we are finding—and this is true across the country—is that while we do have something like a skills shortage, it would be more valid, I think, to conclude that we do not know what skills we have, and that there might be a shortage but we do not know enough about what our graduates know and can do to truly know what the Canadian labour force looks like.
When you go from grade 12, for example, into first-year university—say, into an undergraduate program—essentially everything the education system knows about you is forgotten. All of the hundreds of assessments that have been taken of your learning and your progress from kindergarten through grade 12 are distilled into a very small number of letter or number grades, depending on the province you go to.
From the perspective of understanding the skills that members of our labour force actually have, this is a significant national loss. We take all of this information we have about the passions and capacities of students and turn it into something like “B-plus”, and then when they enter university or college experiences, we start building that information from square one: What can they do? What do they know how to do? How have they grown over time? When you graduate from those programs, whether it's in a skilled trade or in an undergraduate program, we again essentially forget what it is that the education system has learned about you, so when you move out into the labour force, you have a certificate or a seal or a degree, which is meant to summarize all of this achievement. In 2017 when we know that a person's competencies are much more important than the ticket or seal or degree attached to their name, we have to start thinking of that as not good enough.
One of the things that KPU was doing—and this is the research that I'm currently engaged in—is partnering with our local school district, which is Surrey Schools, to see if we can devise ways in which we can admit students to university, not based upon their grades but based upon their actual skills and competencies.
This year we received permission to admit a small number of students to my university based on their skills and competencies. That test student group will be working with my student research team to propose future university-level policies to allow people to come to our institution with all of that rich detail and competency and ability, and not merely that letter grade, which might still persist. It's something we look at in administration or admission decisions, but really should be peripheral. What Canadian students know how to do is much more complicated than their grades, and if we're going to understand the skills the workforce truly has and needs, we need to start taking a look at that at the high school level and at the undergraduate level.
All of the information about that study can be found at our lab website, which is www.kepi.community, on which we describe the partnership and we'll be posting information about what we find as we proceed in the coming years.
There are a few persons who I think would be useful in your research. One of them is Dr. McKean, of course, who organized the post-secondary education summit for the Conference Board last week, which is where I met the honourable chair. They recently published some documents on this subject, so they would certainly be worth speaking to.
Also, as a polytechnic institute, we're a proud member of Polytechnics Canada. One of the things that Polytechnics Canada might provide the committee is some really rigorous analysis of work-integrated learning. Because it's an important area, you get lots and lots of institutions saying that work-integrated learning and these kinds of experiences are a part of what they do, but there's much less concrete policy action, which is what I'm trying to do, and much less evidence-based practice, which is what Polytechnics Canada can provide.
They collect data from my institution and 12 other polytechnic institutes that might be of significant value in tackling these issues, and they do some terrific work. I think they would certainly be worth speaking to.
I'll talk about my recommendations for possible future policy action by the federal government. This notion of amnesia is quite significant to me in terms of the system. We lose far too much information that was far too costly to collect through teachers giving assessments and observing students, through professors doing the same, and so forth. It's almost as if—and this is what I noted at the Conference Board—you move from one doctor to the other, and your new doctor does not want to read your medical file. They simply want to know if you are healthy or not, yes or no. All of these different details in a medical file surely are pertinent to your health in much the same way that all of the different competencies you've developed in your bachelor of arts, for example, are relevant to what you could contribute to the workplace.
I think the federal government has a couple of possible avenues for intervention here. One of them is that we need a shared language, which we currently lack, among K-to-12 systems, university or post-secondary systems, and companies. I'm hearing the representative of the Welding Association speak in terms very similar to those used by the representative of the analogous body for mining, who I spoke to last week. I'm struck by how little we actually speak with these industry bodies, and how, when we do, we tend to use completely different language to describe the same things. In K-to-12 schools, the learning outcomes established by the provincial governments are not well understood by professors, who do very little communicating back to the K-to-12 systems about what's learned within university; and neither of those two systems speaks very well to companies and to the economy. We need a shared language across all three sectors: K to 12; post-secondary; and the private sector or the public sector, our employers.
I think a useful example of this is the classification of instructional programs used by Statistics Canada, which provides shared language about the kinds of jobs that Canadians have. That framework allows us to collect data through the census, for example, about employment rates and about our labour force. What we need is something similar in the area of skills development that could be used both in education and in industry.
The second point is that the federal government could support a system through which we could more adequately carry all of this information forward. It should be seen, if you step back from the system, as simply unacceptable that we do not know what our labour force knows. We're looking at a number of different platforms to catalogue and better understand what graduates actually know as they enter the workforce. When we're talking about the formulation of federal trade and industrial policy, I think that kind of data would be absolutely crucial in making good decisions. The federal government could certainly support a shared language and a shared dataset in terms of what graduates and people in a workforce know and can do. I think educational systems can contribute meaningfully to that.
I think those are the two best areas I could suggest to interact with. We also have some excellent experiential learning folks at KPU, including Dr. Larissa Petrillo, who manages the 300 partnerships I mentioned before and who might be very good for you to speak to.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you regarding East Prince Youth Development Centre and some of the issues the youth of Prince Edward Island are facing.
The East Prince Youth Development Centre is a non-profit organization located in Summerside, P.E.I. It's funded through our provincial government's Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning, and has been operating for over 23 years.
As an employment-assistance service centre, East Prince Youth Development Centre is unique in that it is the only youth employment centre on Prince Edward Island. It provides much-needed career support, job coaching, and life and employability skills training to youth aged 15 to 30.
However, they must be out of school. So, if there is a 15-year old who's out of school, we know there are some issues there.
While this may sound like any other employment-assistance service centre, what makes it so different is that it provides an umbrella of services. Many times there's a long road between today and employment.
Our recent stats indicate that 71% of our clients are youth at risk. This includes poverty, homelessness, addiction issues, mental health issues, criminal records, single parents, lack of education, and lack of family support. Because of this, we work very closely with probation services, social assistance departments, and addictions and mental health services.
Last year, our provincial government decided that all employment-assistance service centres would be combined, and that East Prince Youth Development Centre would be closing.
While 29% of our clients could make this transition, we were very concerned about the other 71%. We know that these clients need more than the typical employment services.
A consultant at that time told me that his research indicated that youth want consistent services across the province, and that the first thing they ask for is help with career planning. My response to this was,“You did not speak to the youth in Summerside.” The first question they typically ask us when they come into our centre is, “Can you drive me to the food bank because I haven't eaten in several days?” For many, a lot of supports are required before we get to the career planning stage.
We're very pleased that the government of P.E.I. didn't follow through with this plan. However, the future of our centre and the youth we serve is still very uncertain. We never know from one year to the next if we're going to continue to receive funding. We operate on a budget that is so limited that my air trip here cost more than our whole annual budget for marketing, travel, and professional development—and that's for all of our staff.
Finding employment for these youth is more complex than just needing to work on employment skills. They need so much more than a resumé and a cover letter. Many young people are dealing with complex barriers, like homelessness, experience with the criminal justice system, food insecurities, young children, the effects of childhood trauma, and mental health challenges.
For youth with disabilities, additional challenges include a lack of previous work experience and obtaining appropriate accommodations at work. These youth are not reaching their full potential, and they're falling through the cracks.
I listened to speak to this standing committee on November 28, and I was very pleased to hear her say that employers are looking for staff with good soft skills, and essential skills such as time management and teamwork. This is something we were teaching for many years, until 2015, when we were told by Service Canada that we could no longer deliver life or parenting skills through our Skills Link program, Parent Power.
This is a program we had been delivering for over 15 years to single parents who were on social assistance and had no work experience and absolutely no self esteem. Many didn't know where to turn for help to deal with everyday issues, such as nutritious food for their family or how to interact with others. Even with numerous cuts to our program over the years, our success rate in getting them employed was 88%.
I'm sad to say that we did not receive any Skills Link funding this year, and our program has been cancelled. That was a three-year call for proposals last year, so it looks as though we will not be receiving any funding, at least until past 2020.
I feel that experiential learning and pathways to employment for Canadian youth are a good start. However, government departments, such as workforce and advanced learning, education, and social assistance, need to work more closely together.
That needs to include youth at risk while they are still in school. We need to be talking to these youth in their comfort zones: on the streets, at the soup kitchen, or outside the local convenience store.
For the past two summers, we've been delivering a program for high school students from low-income families. That seems to be helping to keep them in school. The process we're aiming for is to put them on the path of going for post-secondary education. However, they come to us with little or no hope. They're not involved with school sports or any other extracurricular activities, because they don't have the money and they don't have the confidence.
One of the simplest things we take for granted, or most of us do, is having a social insurance number. Youth cannot get a job without a social insurance number. They can't get a social insurance number without a birth certificate. They can't get a birth certificate without having $35 in their pocket.
For many, this means a decision between food for their kids or a birth certificate. Also, if they do get some support from social assistance, they are not allowed to attend upgrading during the day. They are supposed to be looking for work. Well, where are they going to get a job without even a grade 12 education?
There are some great government programs in place, such as career focus, Canada Summer Jobs, and career connect, but I feel that more needs to be done for our youth at risk.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, I am pleased to be here as a young francophone Canadian and on behalf of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française. This organization represents the interests of francophone youth right across the country. I am pleased to be here to talk to you about investing in youth to revitalize the job market in francophone minority communities.
As regards youth employment, the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française has served as a delivery organization for programs stemming from the Youth Employment Strategy for over 20 years.
In the brief we are presenting today, we make three main recommendations.
First, we recommend that the Government of Canada increase access to jobs and training opportunities in French for youth throughout the country.
Second, we recommend that the Government of Canada invest further and foremost in funding the Young Canada Works in Both Official Languages program, and in offering quality paid internships for francophone students in francophone minority communities throughout the country, through the Young Canada Works at Building Careers in English and French program.
Finally, we recommend that the Government of Canada consult French-speaking youth living in a minority context and take their needs and realities into account when updating the Youth Employment Strategy.
Employment is an important issue for French-speaking youth, right across the country. Moreover, that is what we often hear in the field and at youth gatherings hosted by the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française. Young people are saying there are big gaps in access to jobs in French and in their communities, right across the country.
They are also pointing to many problems that are important realities for youth, including with respect to their transition to the labour market. Here are a few examples: difficulty finding work in their field of study; access to French-language or even bilingual jobs; academic over-qualification, often combined with a lack of job experience; high student debt; and so forth.
Young people aspire to find work in their language and in their field of study, jobs that offer competitive wages, for a respectable period of time, and once again in their home communities. They are also looking for work experience that promotes bilingualism or linguistic duality in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are some programs that facilitate the labour market integration of francophone youth and promote the economic development of francophone minority communities, such as Young Canada Works. The sub-component, Young Canada Works in Both Official Languages, is the only Youth Employment Strategy program that focuses specifically on the official languages.
Since 1996, this program has helped young Canadians develop their job skills and get summer job experience in their second official language. This program is important for young people as it facilitates their labour market integration and promotes the economic development of francophone minority communities in particular. This is a good start, but we can do better.
Offering internships for young graduates would also be an excellent way of facilitating their labour market integration, as well as an excellent way of contributing to the economy, in particular by developing bilingual workers right across the country. The Young Canada Works at Building Careers in English and French component is currently limited to creating international internships. Although creating internships in Canada is one of the program objectives, there is currently no budget for that objective, which we consider very unfortunate.
We hope therefore that the Government of Canada will invest further and foremost in funding these two existing programs. Investing in these programs would make it possible, among other things, to create internships in key sectors and, in particular, would help francophone minority communities keep more young people in their home communities, while also contributing to our country's economic vitality.
The government is also preparing to revise and update the Youth Employment Strategy. In doing this, the government must, in our opinion, take an exhaustive approach. For all the proposed changes to the strategy, the government must consider the specific needs of francophone youth and of francophone minority community organizations. This strategy is very important for young people.
In our opinion, all the programs and initiatives in the Youth Employment Strategy must respect and promote Canada's two official languages. We have the collective responsibility to consider the problems young workers face and to find solutions to the obstacles they have to overcome. We have to give them the tools to develop self-confidence and be able to find their place in the labour market, while also becoming active in society and serving as agents of change in our respective communities.
Thank you for listening. We invite you to look at our brief that was distributed earlier and that provides further details.
We will be pleased to answer your questions.
The Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi du Québec and the youth employment centres are vectors for social innovation in the development of experiential learning projects in the areas of career development, entrepreneurship, voluntary action, and social and professional integration.
With 20 years of experience working with Quebec youth, the youth employment centres are community organizations that work with their many partners and their community. The expertise and intervention work of the youth employment centres have been recognized Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, in particular by establishing the youth employment centre component as part of Quebec's most recent youth action strategy.
Youth employment centres help create a safety net for young people so that each young person can achieve their full potential, whether in terms of employment, pursuing their studies, developing autonomy, entrepreneurship, or civic engagement. The OECD recognizes the importance and credibility of the services that youth employment centres offer young people in Quebec. The centres' actions and projects focus on diversity, gender diversity, and integration. No young person is left out and each project is tailored to the reality of each person and their environment. Quebec has a network of 110 essential local organizations. They are deeply rooted in their communities and 100% dedicated to youth.
Experiential learning is a model that promotes participation in activities in a context that is as close as possible to the knowledge to be gained, the skills to be developed, and the attitudes to be shaped or changed. We see how it benefits young people in terms of developing self-confidence, building their identity, taking charge of themselves, sociability, and the willingness to be involved. These 21st century skills are developed through various projects carried out at youth employment centres. They include internships, professional simulation, work platforms, the youth employment centre school, volunteer work, entrepreneurship, voluntary action or social involvement.
As the Expert Panel on Youth Employment stated, we believe that in order for young people to contribute to Canada's social safety net, they need opportunities and support to adapt to a changing world of work.
The OECD pointed to the current polarization of the labour market and its risks. As a result, we need to focus on the quality of jobs and on greater inclusiveness in order to weather the crises and adapt to changes in technology.
Although the economy seems favourable, young people are hard hit by unemployment and precarious employment. That is why we must consolidate, develop, and adapt our services to each young person's needs and their environment. Scholastic inequality and, more broadly speaking, social inequality, shape young people's relationship with work and employment. Because the young people who use the youth employment centres come from family, scholastic or career backgrounds that may have be marked by multiple problems, the overall approach is more than ever tailored to the situations of young people who are seeking long-term social and professional integration.
Through the experiential approach, the young people carry out a collective project. Youth employment centres therefore help these young people learn from their experiences in order to develop and ultimately move toward training or long-term employment.
By offering all young people the opportunity to take training, have a job that suits them, or implement a citizenship or entrepreneurial project, the youth employment centres give them an experience that is often limited to those who are more fortunate, thereby helping each young person develop their full potential.
I would like to thank the witnesses for being here today. They are the first witnesses we have heard as part of this study.
To begin, it seems that there are two groups.
There are those who do not have the abilities and profiles needed to access the labour market and who have problems in life. I am thinking of what Ms. Broome and the people from the youth employment centres said.
Then there are those from the professional sector or the mainstream.
I will start with the professional sector and then go back to those who have difficulty accessing the labour market. I would like to go back to the example of welders.
Mr. Tadic, thank you for being with us today. It's Steven Blaney speaking. I had the chance to meet with you a few weeks ago in Ottawa.
You mentioned that the biggest issue is skills shortage. Can you give me an overview of what the skills shortage in the welding industry is and tell me a little bit about your Acorn program, which you have launched to fill it up?
I want to thank all the witnesses for their presentations.
In Quebec, over a million jobs will be filled within seven years.
I represent a riding experiencing a labour shortage, and I sincerely hope that our study will help us find ways to build a better bridge between available jobs and job seekers.
Having been the director of a housing resource for troubled youth, I am well aware that youth employment centres don't only help troubled youth. There are two such centres in my riding—Espace carrière, in Saint-Hyacinthe, and Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Comté de Johnson, in Acton Vale.
I know that you help dropouts, as well as university graduates who are underemployed. Given our area of jurisdiction, we are more specifically interested in what is being done for young newcomers, but also for young aboriginals.
My first question is twofold.
To your knowledge, are any youth employment centres working with young newcomers or young aboriginals?
If you don't have that information on hand, you could send it to us later.
Our study could also lead us to recommend that more money be transferred to the Government of Quebec and to other provincial governments to support the most promising approaches used with those clienteles.
Thank you for your question.
Youth employment centres do work with newcomers. Each centre's identity is rooted in the community. If the centre is located in an area with many newcomers, it will develop that expertise. Montreal can welcome newcomers, but there also many programs that help welcome newcomers in the regions. Youth employment centres are there to help newcomers throughout the process and to show them what resources are available in the community.
Assistance with job searches is available both in the city and in the regions. There are also citizen engagement projects for newcomers. That is one of the best tools we have found to take advantage of all their skills—so they can transfer them—and to inform them of the various resources available in the community.
As for first nations, there are also ongoing projects. Once again, it depends on the youth employment centre in question, but those located in a region that is home to aboriginal communities develop projects with them and with schools. Some examples are student retention and entrepreneurship projects, which have pretty amazing results.
We are particularly concerned about those communities. That is why transformative projects have been created.
Thank you for your question.
There are different projects, and they vary from one region to another, since they meet the needs of young people and their communities.
I will give you a few examples of projects that have been carried out and that help young people develop their skills, among other things.
For example, l'École autrement is a CJE Les Etchemins project that helps young people who dropped out of school undergo training that will then help them pursue the job they want. That project is for young dropouts. The program is linked to school, and it enables them to earn school credits. That is really how it is done. The difference from the school environment is that support is provided through the youth employment centre. School board professionals come to the youth employment centre to encourage learning and the acquisition of knowledge. That is one of the programs.
The youth employment centre for the counties of Richmond and Drummond-Bois-Francs has developed a workshop called “touch wood”, where wood is used to help young people develop skills such as project management. Young people have to carry out an entrepreneurship project. So they have to find a product to build, manage its inventory and figure out how to sell it. That way, they develop skills that will help them find a job. The program will not necessarily lead them to a job in that field, but it will help them develop skills.
Ms. Broome talked about developing self-esteem, which is essential for troubled youth with difficult backgrounds. Those young people need to develop their self-esteem and participate in projects that will help them regain their self-confidence, but also get themselves going again and develop transferable skills.
Well, the results speak for themselves.
We talked about the skills link program earlier. Some great projects have been developed in my riding because of this program. One of the two youth employment centres is currently impatiently awaiting a response, but there are many more applications than funds available. This program has definitely proven its worth. The other youth employment centre hasn't even applied. These people told me that the process is complicated. Still, they had good experiences in the past.
Listening to your comments, I realize how important it is to take a cross-cutting approach. Last year, this committee conducted a study on poverty. A strategy to fight poverty is being developed, and since there are truly cross-cutting issues, it would be important to link these strategies.
One of the topics of our committee's study is youth underemployment. Some of them hold jobs that are not consistent with their education, skills or experience. Others work part time while they'd like to work full time.
What do you think are the causes of youth underemployment? What is the best way to address it?
The recent history of educational policy in Canada tells us we're not very good at predicting that. We've gone through at least three waves of attempting to ascertain what the labour market will look like in 10 years, and in each of those cases, we have been largely mistaken.
When I was young, everyone was going to be a computer programmer. Then a good set of software tools, the Microsoft Suite and so forth, was developed, and all of a sudden we didn't need those programmers because we had good programs. Then we moved into apps, and you're starting to see kids today learning how to do Swift development on Apple technologies and so forth. We didn't see any of that coming, at least from the educational perspective.
I'm interested in the students' flexibility in their learning, and their ability to articulate and apply that learning to unexpected contexts, because in a certain sense, any prediction about where artificial intelligence will lead us is going to be quite fraught. As an educator, I need to make sure my students are ready for things I do not see coming, and that's very much part of what we're trying to do.
We have a program we're bringing forward right now on some of the new forms of advanced manufacturing and machine maintenance that we require in the new economy, but even that has to be very flexible, because that area is changing much more quickly than public systems can adapt.
Getting back to the Canadian Welding Association, Dan, you mentioned that there is a skills shortage, and welding is a great opportunity for young people to look at.
In your presentation, you mentioned a pipeline. Canada has changed course. Depending on what government we see in Canada—be it federal, provincial, or even municipal—some governments support pipelines as the safest way of moving natural resources, and some don't.
Under the current government, there's not an appetite for pipelines. Does that affect potential jobs and the training that the—
I'm being heckled a little bit, Mr. Chair.
Is that possibly going to have an effect on planning for training in welding, or will there be a continued and unrestricted need for welding?
It's by industries within Canada. If I'm an employer with a job that has a timeline in terms of the delivery of that project, and I'm stuck in a situation where I must get this thing out on time or I'm going to pay penalties, my option is to offer bigger incentives and higher wages to get some of those skilled tradesmen from other companies and in order to get that project out the door and shipped on time.
It is an issue, and it's an issue that we need to address. The only way we're going to do that is by encouraging more employers to take on apprentices. That's why we are travelling the country right now and going face to face in conversation with employers to try to encourage them. I can tell you that we have been very successful so far in signing agreements with a number of employers in the Hamilton area, where we are setting up this first industry consortium.
The majority of these companies have never hired apprentices in the past, so the conversations we are having with employers today are very effective. We're changing the minds and hearts of the employers in terms of apprenticeship training, and we're seeing that change. We're seeing companies actually getting excited about apprenticeship training.
We believe very firmly in this model. We believe that it will be successful. We believe that the industry needs a seismic shift in the approach to apprenticeship training. Just keep in mind that the current model has been in place for centuries and that companies hire an apprentice and train them to the best of their abilities with the resources they have. However, allowing apprentices to rotate between a number of employers will enhance learning. It will enhance their confidence, and that is linked to the quality, productivity, and profitability of our industry.
If you have a highly skilled labour force, that will also lead to innovation and creativity, and we need to make those investments. We need to make sure that there is an opportunity for that skills development.
Just to set the record straight, we know that folks who take those types of programs have fallen through the cracks, absolutely, but we've just recently announced a $40-billion national housing strategy. We need people to actually be in a home. We need people to actually be comfortable and set in a home, so that's something we are moving forward with.
We've close to doubled the Canada Summer Jobs program, which speaks to some of that, but not enough. We've just announced 10,000 paid internships through Mitacs. Over the last two years, we've announced $8 billion in housing and education for indigenous folks. We've increased student grants. We've made it easier to take student loans.
The reason I'm here today is to find solutions to how we get those folks who are struggling through, not to point fingers, and that's why programs from Kwantlen college are critical.
Also, when we talk about the Skills Link training program, what I'm trying to find out is how we are tracking the results of the efforts that are being made through organizations like yours.
Are they moving from you to a job? If they're not, why not? Where are those challenges? Can you give me, from your experience, what's missing from that piece of the puzzle?