Employment program adds pandemic survival skills

·2 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has added new challenges for people looking for work, and that's being recognized in a P.E.I. program that helps people seeking employment.

The provincially-funded Connect 2 Employment program has been offered on P.E.I. since 2017. It was initially a work skills development program for youth up to 30 years of age, but since the pandemic it has opened up to anyone 16 years of age or older who is unemployed or underemployed.

The programming has also changed.

"We've added a great emphasis on mental health and working through some COVID-19 issues," Barb Broome, executive director of the East Prince Youth Development Centre, the group responsible for the program, told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.

The centre had three times as many applications as spaces for the nine-week program starting in February in Charlottetown and Summerside, said Broome, and she believes that is directly connected to the pandemic.

"They're really looking for an opportunity to get a bit more normalcy in their life. I think isolation has been hard on a lot of people," she said.

New-normal life skills

The program has made changes to help people deal with the mental health problems that may be raised by the pandemic beyond the difficulty of finding a job.

Connect 2 Employment is offering music therapy, art expression, animal therapy, yoga and meditation. There are also group and one-on-one cognitive therapy sessions.

In addition to being an opportunity to move forward, said Broome, the program is also a chance to connect with people who are going through a similar experience.

Sixty people applied for the 10 spots available in Charlottetown and the 10 in Summerside in February.

Broome said those who couldn't be included are put on a waiting list, as well as being referred to other programs and organizations.

More from CBC P.E.I.