The only rush hour in Lac La Biche is when the school day begins and ends. You see young people. Maybe there are even a few in your house. Gasp! How could we forget about them?
There Is A Chicken and Egg Situation With Our Youth
There ARE many youth-run businesses silently doing well in our area- actual brick-and-mortar businesses. A silent economy, if you will. There are also many successful youth earning good wages, employ others, and add to our economy. We should celebrate these examples whenever we have a chance.
Many opportunities for youth are becoming available due to the mass exit of the baby boomers from the workforce. As life slowly creeps along, we should consider how many skilled employees will be needed locally to replace all those higher-paying positions.
The chicken is encouraging our youth to stay in the Lac La Biche region to fill those positions and start new enterprises if they are so inclined. There are many strong footholds in our community to establish promising futures. Contrary to popular belief, migration from urban to rural areas is trending.
This egg will die if it is not looked after, and I fear we are forgetting to engage with, support and encourage our youth.
What Is The Age of Youth Anyway?
This past June, Prairies Economic Development Canada changed the upper range of youth classification from 29 to 34. The definition is fundamental, but the answer is varied. At the same time, I believe we need to engage 15-year-olds and up BEFORE they graduate from high school and post-secondary. After that, they have made up their minds whether to stay or leave.
Locally, youth aged 23 to 35 report that even if they earn good wages and contribute to the local economy, there is nothing except their jobs to keep them here. There are limited social activities and things of interest to do, and they do not feel part of the community.
What Are Youth Missing?
Many are missing connections such as:
- Having a safe, comfortable place to interact with others their age (Social)
- Confidential access to counselling, self-help and esteem (Emotional)
- Classes and workshops to support and nurture physical, creative, and intellectual wellness.
If we don’t connect with, support, and celebrate our youth, their exit from our community will surely increase. The population of our region will decline further. Nobody will be available to fill job vacancies. More businesses will close.
On The Other Hand
If we act right now we can make a difference. If you would like to be part of the solution, contact Gene at Community Futures. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780-623-2662.