If you knew a way to save money while helping a young person clamber over multiple barriers into the job market, would you do it? It sounds like a no brainer!
Québec has been learning how to do it for the last 20 years. Its entreprises d’insertion (“training businesses,” loosely translated) are making it happen for thousands of at-risk youth every year. These social enterprises train and graduate to employment or further training people who can’t get, can’t keep, or have never had a job. The savings in social assistance alone are huge, never mind the other costs you avoid when people realize that they too have something to contribute to society.
Although they started with little but guts and feathers, this training business network has not grown up entirely on its own steam, mind you. A sophisticated and systematic policy and program support structure within Québec’s government has been of central importance to the expansion.
Yet as far as I know not one other provincial jurisdiction in Canada has tried to replicate Québec’s system. Duh! Seriously, we have a problem here, and it is not because a lot of us Anglophones get giddy at the sight of something written in French. With all the talk of “best practices” that’s been pedaled lately, you would think that someone would crack their Larousse and find out how Québec does it.
Well, you can skip that step now, folks…