The Prescott-Russell Employment Services Centre is focusing on the future.  

On October 22, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin announced the centre recently received a federal contribution of $1,473,186 for its “Focus on the Future” project. The funding is from the federal Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program. 

Over 18 months the Employment Services Centre plans to provide work experiences to 170 eligible youth and young adults aged 15 to 30. The project offers personalized, and group support with the goal of enabling at-risk youth in Prescott-Russell to eventually enter the job market and become financially independent.  

Youth will receive training in leadership and entrepreneurship and be matched with leadership mentors. Each of the 170 young people will be placed with companies to experience paid work placements and 75 young people will receive professional job coaching in the workplace. 

One of the partners the youth will be placed with is Groupe CONVEX, a local not-for-profit organization which operates nine businesses as social enterprises providing employment and experience to qualifying residents of Prescott and Russell counties who face barriers to employment. According to Groupe CONVEX CEO Simon Durand, those barriers can include disabilities, addiction, mental illness, lack of skills, a criminal history, or a disadvantaged background. 

“The common goal is to have each youth not only gain employment, but to make them part of the regional work force,” said Employment Services Centre Chair Lionel Renaud. 

According to Employment Services Centre Executive Director Caroline Arcand, Focus on the Future will assist high school graduates with no other post-secondary education or training plans. 

“It is designed for the youth of the rural Eastern Ontario region.” 

Arcand said more than 93 per cent of employers need staff with increased basic skills. She said 30 per cent of youth do not complete high school and go directly into the work force. 

Employers who want to participate in the Focus on the Future project may apply through local school boards and social services agencies.