Youth are vital to the success of rural communities and regions, however rural youth can face a range of challenges. A recent RDI research project in partnership with the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) explored what action is needed to address youth training, engagement, and retention on a regional scale. This research partnership was designed to inform the Kootenay Workforce Development Initiative, specifically the goal to help people upgrade and upskill.
A small advisory group that included the Kootenay Workforce Development Coordinator, the Columbia Basin Trust, the RDI, LCIC, and SFU recognized that in order to effectively support the youth ‘floater’ population (17-25 year olds who have finished high school, remain in the region, and are underemployed or unemployed) we need to better understand their barriers to employment.
The research involved the production of a series of Knowledge Briefs that synthesize the academic literature on topics related to youth engagement, retention, training and education, and youth workforce development. In an effort to better understand the local context a series of focus groups and expert interviews were also conducted in November and December 2015.
The research confirms the difficulty of accessing and understanding the target population, while also highlighting that there is no single ‘type’ of youth nor a single solution, but rather a clear need for youth specific resources, supports, and programs that are consciously and collaboratively established to be accessible to and to serve the needs of youth. The research report, a literature review, an inventory of existing supports, and a series of knowledge products focused on specific audiences will be released in March.