For the last few months, I’ve been participating in a little bit of extra-curricular activity. Something I am personally passionate about, and something that is important to our business community and Squamish’s future. Youth!
I’m sure you have noticed that Squamish has a very young community. Our average age is 38 (vs 42 for B.C as a whole), with 30% under the age of 25. Squamish has a huge generation of young residents who are – or will soon be – looking to their future and their transition into adulthood, whether that’s into the workforce, trades, higher education or something else. The Chamber can help bridge the gap between education and the workplace, highlighting the exciting opportunities and helping Squamish’s emerging adults to be prepared, engaged and contributing members of the community.
Here’s a quick video with some inspiration on how to connect youth, our Chamber and the business community. Just pretend it says B.C and not Britain! (blog continues below)
Last year, the Chamber team and Board Directors (Allie Meeres and Maxime Charron), started exploring the possibility of a Youth Chamber. After some initial research, we saw an opportunity to help youth learn skills to prepare to enter the workforce, to grow their confidence, to gain experience and to connect with the business community. Earlier this year, we had our first win. We received a grant from the Province of B.C to adapt our Stepping into Leadership program and take it to school students. This is our first step in helping to create a strong foundation of confident and empowered youth. The Squamish Chamber youth leadership program started this week with students at Don Ross Middle School. We’ve also been working on an Industry Innovation Program with the District of Squamish, local businesses and the education sector (QUC, CapU, SFU). Blog continues below.
We were recently invited to participate in the Squamish Youth Strategy. Led by the District of Squamish, the Youth Strategy is being developed to better support our youth and allow them to grow and develop to their highest potential. We’ve now helped facilitate two workshops. Students from HSSS, DRMS, Cultural Journeys and Quest University Canada participated in the workshops, along with DoS staff, councilors, Squamish Nation, RCMP, Squamish Arts Council and other community groups. This isn’t adults telling the youth community what they need – it’s youth guiding their future and helping us understand the opportunities to be involved.
Many topics were discussed. Specific to the business community, we learned that our young community is:
We now have some clear direction to create a successful Squamish Youth Chamber. The draft Youth Strategy will be presented to Council later this month (our input is only one small part of the wider Youth Strategy). There will be many opportunities for businesses to get involved in the Squamish Youth Chamber, from internships and panel discussions, to scholarships to provide inclusive access to programs. If the Squamish Youth Chamber sounds interesting and you want to get involved, then send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need the help of our business community to make this work for everyone.