Youth Works and Welfare to Work Training and Employability Programs
Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance, Province of British Columbia Pgs 2-4, BC Benefits Monthly Statistical Report Released February 1998, November 1997 Stats
During 1995/96, a fundamental change to income security programs saw the development of BC Benefits, with Youths Works and Welfare to Work programs targeting employability of clients. Youth Works, for youth between 19 and 24, is an entitlement program which replaces welfare, and guarantees access to work preparation, education and training programs. The Welfare to Work program makes the same range of programs and services available to adults between the ages of 25 and 59 currently receiving Income Assistance.
A short-term result of the implementation of BC Benefits has been the reduction in the number of individuals receiving Income Assistance, both under the Youth Works Act and the Income Assistance Act.
This decline in the caseload can be factored into two components - a change in the number of individuals coming onto Income Assistance, and a change in the number of individuals leaving Income Assistance. In the short-term the strongest influence has been the decrease in the number of new starts, or individuals who do not come on to Income Assistance.
The second change factor, or the number of clients leaving Income Assistance has been more rapid for the short-term recipients (1-7 months) of Income Assistance. As seen in the above chart, short-term cases have declined from 79,000 to 45,000 between January 1996 and October 1997. During the same period of time, longer-term cases (10+ months) fell from 96,000 to 81,000. Greater impacts on longer-term cases will be seen as those clients begin to complete employability and training programs, and test those new skills in the labour market.
The impact of BC Benefits on new entrants has had an additional impact of changing the composition of the caseload. While the overall caseload has dropped, the proportion of cases open for 10 or more months has increased from 52.3% to 61.1% between January 1995 and October 1997. For Youth Works and Welfare to Work programs, this means a greater proportion of clients are accessing skill focused active programming. As noted above, this range of programming includes work preparation, basic education and skills development . These programs are intended to help clients improve their longer-term employability and independence. Some of the impact of this programming is already being manifested in the continued reduction in longer-term caseload volumes, and some impacts have yet to be seen.
Overall caseload reductions can be seen to have an impact on both Youth Works and Income Assistance caseload differently. As seen in the diagram, caseload reductions have been seen regardless of duration on BC Benefits; however, the relative declines are greater for Youth Works cases than for Income Assistance cases. For example, between January 1995 and October, 1997, the number of short-term Youth Works cases (1-7 month) declined by almost 50 per cent, compared with a decrease of only 40 per cent for short term Income Assistance cases over the same time period.
A second factor which emerges from this comparison is the seasonal effects which appear to have greater influences on the shorter term cases (less than 10 months). A comparison of unemployment rates for either youth or adults over 25, and the Youth Works or Income Assistance caseload, reveals little or no correlation between the two at the broadest level, indicating other seasonal factors are influencing the caseload.
The caseload (in particular the Youth Works caseload) has continued to decline despite flat labour market participation patterns, little to no growth in youth employment in British Columbia during the last two years, and the weakening direct relationship between caseload levels and unemployment rates. This means other factors are bearing an influence on the reductions in caseload. This may include participation in school, and will be the subject of discussion in a future article.
As noted earlier, the short-term reduction seen in BC Benefits caseload is due mainly to declines in the numbers of new entrants. Other short-term caseload declines have been due to a more rapid exit rate among shorter-term cases. Given the changing nature of the caseload and an overall increase of the proportion of cases with a duration of 10 months or more, delivering effective programming to enhance employability skills will be a key in ensuring those clients can achieve long-term independence once they leave Income Assistance. To ensure that programs help clients meet these goals, continuous program improvements are underway based on evaluation of program impacts and effectiveness.
As seen in the diagram, during the last three years, employment opportunities have not grown at comparable rates for different age groups. Employment for those 15-24 years has experienced almost flat growth when averaged out, and is highly subject to seasonal pressures. Higher and more stable employment growth is seen for those between 25 and 64 years.
This trend, and the anticipated economic pressures not seen in 1996 or 1997, point to a need for closer analysis of the employment outcomes of all BC Benefits clients. Longer-term success both finding and maintaining employment, and financial independence will be of increasing importance, as traditional labour market opportunities narrow both in scope and magnitude.
These factors, and others such as participation in Youth Works and Welfare to Work employability programs will be presented and discussed in more detail in future articles.
Some recent changes have been made to the data series and analysis presented in this publication. Prior analysis included only those BC Benefits cases which were considered "employable". A recent review of the "Special Needs" (or "unemployable" category) resulted in the classification of these cases as "persons with a level one disability ". As these individuals are eligible to participate in Youth Works and Welfare to Work employability programs, and receive benefits under the Youth Works and Income Assistance Acts, they are included in this analysis.
Skills Development Division