YOUTH IN TRAINING
"PAY D I R T "
Edmund E. Pugsley
Hon. Norman McL. Rogers
Dominion Minister of Labor.
To 35,000 young Canadians DPYTP spells a new design for living and a new hope for the future
In passing a vole of $ 1,000,000 to provide development and training projects for unemployed young people, the Dominion Government sought to meet a situation which had been developing for the last seven years. Throughout the country there were thousands of young people who, having left our schools some years ago, had lost the benefit of their education and, through lack of employment opportunities, never had a chance to acquire industrial training. With the recovery of the last two years, there are increasing opportunities for young people in the commercia! and industrial life of the country, but the changing conditions of competitive industrial production cut! more and more JOT skilled workers. Consequently, very many young people, lacking skill in specific occupations and even the discipline which comes from training and work, are under a heavy handicap in seeking employment.
Based on the work of the Youth Employment Committee and the Women's Employment Committee of the National Employment Commission, the Dominion-Provincial Youth 7 raining plans are devised to remove this handicap as far as possible by providing work of a definite training value, and other projects lo increase emp’oyabilily and maintain physical Jitness and morale.
The success of the plan depends largely on the measure of co-opera turn given it by the primary and secondary industries of the country. Permanent employment cannot be afforded by the State, but only bv private industry. If the Government assists in training unemployed young people, it is only reasonable that employers rtf tabor should do their utmost to teceive those, so trained, into employment.
7 he Department of IMIHTT at Ottan a, which has negotiated the necessary agreements with the provinces, is taking a keen interest in the carrying out of these plans, und it is my hope, as Minister of Iuibor, that the record of achievement, when it bicomes available, will be ample reward for the efforts expended.
SHREWD and dynamic gentleman prominent in
AA the public allairs of his native city and province, JL JL once expounded to this reporter a complete jxjlitical philosophy in half a dozen crisp sentences.
‘‘One must always be doing something. So many things need to be done that to remain inactive is criminal. Not all the things any government may do. Dominion, provincial, or municipal, will turn out right. Mistakes will be made; but the gravest mistake of all is to do nothing.”
Acting upon the conviction that something ought to be done about \ outh in Canada, the Dominion Government early in 1987 inaugurated the Dominion-Provincial Youth I raining Program. At the year’s end. Dominion Labor Department officials estimated that opportunities for vocational training had been opened to approximately 35,(XX) young Canadians of both sexes.
1 hat is something done. How well it has been done, whether or not the present scheme is to be carried on in its original form or altered in certain of its essential details, or il it is to be made a permanent part of our national design for living, remains to be discovered. W e will know more about that next March, when the results of the first year’s ojxirations must be reviewed, and fresh money found for the plan’s continuance, if it is to continue.
But in this last year something has been done about Youth. 1 hat something needed urgently to be done long before anything was done, is generally acknowledged by every sociologist, educator and thinking citizen who has taken the trouble to study the condition of Canadian boys and girls over the past quarter of a century.
Because that is the handiest excuse, it has become habitual to blame the palpable unrest and often angry dissatisfaction among Canadian youth in recent years upon the depression. But men and women who have watched sorrowfully as this feeling of unease and resentment has mounted are well aware that, while the depression aggravated the condition, it was rooted long before 1929.
I he naked and ugly tact is that, while our boys and girls of school age were being taught that Canada, with its almost limitless natural resources, its vast undeveloped wealth of land, forest and water power, and its small, immigration-restricted population, was the land of opportunity above all others, they were finding out for themselves, after they left school, that this was a lie; that opportunities, even for the well-educated young man and young woman in this great Dominion, were scanty and hard to find.
In the years between 1919 and 1929 it became plain to everyone who would take the trouble to look twice, that Canadian industry was not absorbing our young people as fast as our schools and universities were turning them out to
shift for themselves. Educationalists have been worried for a long time about the unhappy but inescapable fact that it was taking Canadian business ten years to take care of the product of nine years of graduating classes. In 1929 employment was a full twelvemonth behind education. All the magnificently optimistic oratory of guests of honor at a hundred Commencement Day exercises, could not offset those figures.
The Youth Employment Committee
WITH THE depression, other even more distressing statistics began to appear. As unemployment increased, so crime records among the lower age groups rose. Boys of sixteen to twenty began to show up in police courts, charged with violent offenses against law and order. The birth rate of illegitimate children mounted. The number of marriage certificates issued and the records of children born in wedlock declined. The age of dependency was pushed up until there were thousands of Canadian young men and women in their twenties without steady occupation, who had never had steady occupation. Fit, educated, normally intelligent boys and girls were on relief, losing faith in themselves and in their country, growing cynical, hard, weary about living.
The condition was not peculiar to Canada. It existed in the United States, in Great Britain, on the European continent. But it seemed more shameful that it should be present in this Dominion, whose advantages over older lands in natural wealth and elbow room are so obvious. The imperative necessity for action some action along definite lines, a co-ordinated plan—was urged upon the Dominion Government. The National Employment Commission, with Arthur Purvis as its head, had already been created. As a subdivision of the commission, a Youth Employment Committee was appointed and charged with the task of first surveying the Dominion field, then investigating youth movements in other countries, and finally with recommending such action as, in the committee’s considered opinion, might be effective in Canada.
The personnel of the committee was carefully selected to represent all that is best in Canadian sociological and educational experience from the Atlantic to the Pacific: Alan Chambers, of Nanaimo, B.C., a young and successful businessman, born in England; The Rev. Robert F. Thompson, of Toronto, an ardent sociologist, a popular padre in the trenches during the War; W. C. Nickerson, of Halifax, a leading merchant in the Maritimes known for his interest in young folks as well as for his forward-looking views; André Montpetit, of Montreal, a lawyer and educationalist prominent among the younger generation of French-Canadians; and Joseph McCulley, headmaster of Pickering College at Newmarket, Ont., a better-than-sixfoot athlete possessed of abounding energy and a passionate sympathy with youth and its struggles.
The Youth Employment Committee surveyed Canada from Coast to Coast. Some members studied various youth-rehabilitation plans operating in the United States, with particular attention to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Others went to Europe to look into those things being done along similar lines in Great Britain and on the Continent. Within a reasonable time the committee came up with its plan.
The Provinces Co-operate
"PREPARATION of an acceptable scheme for such an Jundertaking was not a soft job. Sacred provincial rights had to be protected. Differences of race and creed had to be considered. Administrative costs had to be kept as low
as possible, with proper regard for efficiency. Time was of the essence. The plan had to be so simple that it could be put into effect at the earliest possible moment, yet of sufficiently broad sco|>e to provide the fullest measure of opportunity to the largest number of impatiently waiting young Canadians.
Some factors tended to assist the cause. The business upturn first recorded late in 1934 was continuing, and, on the whole, gaining momentum. There was, and still is, a positive shortage of skilled labor in many trades throughout Canada. If, for example, you chance to be an exjx'rt pulp cutter you can have your choice of steady jobs at good wages. Clever and experienced mechanics, finding themselves workless in their home towns, had drifted away, were no longer available when reviving knal industries needed them. This was especially true of the British born, thousands of whom have returned to their native lands during the past three years, finding in the quickening of British industries the opportunities denied them here.
Desperately in need of trained workers, Canadian employers were in a more receptive mood toward the idea of teaching young local talent, about which there has been a notable and regrettable lack of enthusiasm in the past. Our industrialists, as a body, cannot escape that charge. Until very recently it has been the accepted policy to import skilled men for key positions from abroad, rather than bother to develop them at home. Now circumstances have compelled a volte foce, and that works to assist the present youth campaign.
Most important of all. perhaps, was the fact that the certain conviction that something must be done to give our own boys and girls a chance for a complete, fulfilled life as happily industrious Canadians, was sufficiently strong to overcome prejudices, whether of party politics, race or religion. With all these circumstances aiding its progress, the Youth Employment Committee’s plan, backed by the National Employment Commission went through almost exactly as written.
Its full title, the Dominion-Provincial Youth Training Program if this were the United States we would call it DPYTP and so save space describes the scheme accurately. It is a fully co-operative plan, and all the provinces are co-operating. The Dominion Government provides a grant of $1.000,000 distributed among the nine Provincial Governments, pro rata to population and the scope and type of the training provided. Each province matches the amount of the Dominion grant dollar for dollar, and each province administers, and pays for the cost of administration of, its own plan.
The Dominion authority, under the Minister of Labor, has the right to examine the plan and the estimated cost of carrying it through, prepared by each of the Provincial Governments, and must approve them before the grant is paid from the Dominion treasury. On this point there has been little difference of opinion. Some minor details have been altered at the request of the Ottawa administration, but, for the most part, every plan submitted has been accepted in itself an encouraging bit of testimony on behalf of the sincerity of the effort, and the absence of political monkey business.
Plainly, some provinces are chiefly concerned to train their young folks in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, while in others the opportunities are rather for skilled mechanics, miners, or construction workers. In every case, overhead expenses are held down by calling ujxm already existing governmental agencies, Departments of Labor, Education, Mines. Forests and Agriculture, for generous assistance. Qualified technicians in every branch of industry already employed in Provincial Government services have been
enlisted for extra work, without increasing the cost to the taxpayer of administering the Youth Training Program. Dominion administration is most economical. Reporting to the Hon. Norman Rogers, Dominion Minister of Labor, the Rev. Robert F. Thompson, a member of the original committee, is serving in a full-time job as director. He has a small office and a staff of one secretary at Ottawa.
Different Kinds of Training
AS THIS is written the test year has still some months 4*to run. SÍ) it cannot lx* more than an interim report. Some provinces were quicker on the ball than others. British Columbia, for example, had a forestry training plan in operation all last summer, but the Quebec Government did not develop the details of its general scheme until autumn was well advanced. Every province is operating some sort of a plan for agricultural training, and all of them have established classes in conveniently located centres for Home Sendee Training for young women, as well as special farm classes for girls who aim to remain among the cows and chickens. Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia have practical courses in mining. Technical training in theory and practice is going ahead in the industrial areas of Quebec and Ontario. Naturally, the prairie provinces are more interested in agriculture than other branches of industry.
looking over the progress made so far, starting in the East, we find that Prince Edward Island, essentially a farming and fishing community, has established occupational training classes, teaching her young men how to be practical blacksmiths and carpenters with special instructions on farm-machinery repairs. To meet the vocational needs of young men whose families have been fishermen for generations, the Prince Edward Island plan offers instruction in seamanship, navigation, and fish canning.
This work is going forward on the Island; but because P.E.I. is not well supplied with agricultural schools, Nova Scotia is co-operating in the training of young Prince Edward Island farmers. A number of students enrolled under the Youth Training Program are taking courses at Truro, N.S., and others are taking courses at St. Francis Xavier College at Antigonish. There is a further plan to send Prince Edward Island boys to some of the Quebec agricultural schools.
Nova Scotia's most, pressing problem, as the preliminary survey showed, was unemployment among the sons of coal miners. The Provincial Government prepared an extensive, even an ingenious plan to recreati' in these young men an interest in the business of earning a living. Since it ajvpeanxi that the coal industry would not be able to absorb them under normal conditions, they have been encouraged to turn their traditional talents to hard-rock mining.
By agreement with the owners of an inoperative gold mine in the Chester Basin district , the Provincial Government Ux)k over the mine, pumped out the water, installed modern machinery, and transferred something like one hundred young huskies from the coal regions to Chester Basin. In their new surroundings these boys have been learning the theory and practice of their trade since last May. under the supervision of experienced old-timers supplied by the Department of Mines.
This particular activity is unusual, but it supplies an excellent demonstration of the underlying principles upon which the whole Youth Training Program is constructed. These young chaps are, by inclination and through environment, miners. They want to be miners, and every circumstance points to the likelihood that they will develop into
Continued on f>at,e 31
Youth in Training
Continued from page 15-SlaTis on page 14 -
first-class miners. The Chester Basin enterprise is designed to give them an opportunity to learn a specialized branch of the skilled trade for which they arc best suited. That is the aim of the entire program, all along the line.
New Brunswick, on the other hand, has only a secondary interest in mining, but has a very definite concern with forestry. So, all last summer, something like 150 young New Brunswickers have been learning woodcraft, surveying, and in some instances, geological surveying and hand drilling, under the direction of government supervisors in New Brunswick forests.
Some of these young men. the embryo geologists especially, were either taking college courses, or had started them and then been forced to quit because funds were not available. They are getting valuable experience in the field. At the last report, almost every man who took the New Brunswick forestry course last summer will be placed in a salaried job this year.
In the urban centres, Saint John and Moncton, occupational training classes have been established, using technical schools and other available facilities. 1 he province is also carrying on a plan for agricultural instruction and homecraft and farmwork classes for young women.
Manitoba has 350 men learning forestry, with other groups training in agriculture and domestic science and handicrafts for the girls. The Saskatchewan plan stresses agriculture, but urban occupational training is provided in three centres, Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. In Alberta the general agricultural training is broadened to include special courses in fur farming, dairy farming and poultry raising. Some urban occupational training is offered, together with the usual homecraft classes for the girls.
British Columbia has more than 500 young men in training under the plan in her magnificent forests, some of them learning the mysteries of forest ranging, others getting experience in the various branches of woodcraft. The Pacific Coast province duplicates the efforts of other areas in urban occupational training for both men and women, but she has added a system of physical education for both sexes that has proved highly successful in combating the effects of undernourishment and of psychological letdown, resulting from conditions over the past difficult years.
British Columbia is also instructing about 300 youthful gold-seekers in the technique of placer mining. (See "Pay Dirt” at end of this article).
Ontario’s Apprenticeship Act
AS MIGHT be expected, the most elaborate systems for developing the Youth Training Program appear in the more thickly settled provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The Quebec plan was slow to get going, but, generally speaking, and allowing for fundamental differences of race, creed and existing legislation, it corresponds closely with the setup in the province next door.
Ontario’s Youth Training Program is under the control of the Provincial Department of Labor, with Deputy Minister J. F\ Marsh supervising operations. Closely allied are other Provincial Government departments, notably Education, Public Welfare, Mines, Lands and Forests, and Agriculture. Charles Sinclair, Ph.D., a trained sociologist, who is at the same time a shrewd and able publicist, acts as liaison officer between the co-operating departments. Dr. Sinclair, a former journalist, was a foreign newspaper correspondent a year or so back, and he has studied at first hand the workings of the various youth movements in Great Britain, France and Germany.
Since 1928, Ontario has had on its statute books an Apprenticeship Act drafted to fit in with modern conditions, and this brings into the picture Frederick J. Hawes, Inspector of Apprenticeship, who works with the Department of Education.
Between them, these three* shoulder the responsibility for the success or failure of the Youth Training Program as it has been applied in Ontario. At the end of 1937 the estimated figures show between 3,000 and 3,500 young Ontario men and women taking advantageof the numerous branches of special training offered. Five hundred young people were receiving instruction in agriculture and farm work, many of them actually employed on prize farms in different Ontario counties. Until the winter set in, about 350 young men were being trained in forestry, and there were about fifty others learning the technical side of mining, some of them in mines, others studying at the excellently equipped school at Haileybury. Household and handicrafts classes were being attended by around 500 young women. Mechanical training for learners and apprentices accounted for the rest.
The apprenticeship plan to which the Youth Training Movement has been solidly welded, provides expert instruction, either under actual shop conditions or in technical school classes which reproduce as faithfully as j)ossible those conditions, in:
Bricklaying, masonry, carpentry, painting and decorating, plastering, plumbing, steamfitting, sheet-metal work, electrical work, motor-vehicle repairs, barbering and hairdressing.
The Ontario Apprenticeship Act is permissive legislation. Recalcitrant employers who still cling to the notion that the time taken to train young Canadians in the technique of their trades is wasted, cannot be compelled to change their minds. All apprenticeship agreements under the act come about through a mutual arrangement between employers’ organizations, employees’ unions and the Government. This accounts for the absence from the above list of a number of recognized skilled trades. The question of apprentices in the photo-engraving industry, for instance, is still under negotiation as this is written.
On the other hand, employers of skilled labor in other lines not generally recognized as trades, are asking the Government
to provide them with trained workers. There is, it would appear, a shortage of expert male nurses, and hospitals have suggested a course for young men who might nourish an ambition to become ministering angels in trousers. Retail organizations rejxtrt that skilled acrossthe-counter salesmen are hard to get. They would like the Government to teach as many Canadian boys as hanker after a career in retail merchandising, the technique of [Xirsuading prospective customers out of the “I’m just looking around” mood into the “Please wrap that up” conviction.
Age and Qualifications
ALL TMESE are angles. They will have
\ to he considered and discussed and acted upon, when the first year’s operation of the Youth Training Program comes up for review this spring. Meanwhile, certain facts should he set down for the guidance of anyone interested in the things that the Dominion and Provincial Governments are trying to accomplish.
Age limitations have been set at between eighteen and thirty years. These boundaries are fixed in the Ontario Apprenticeship Act. They have been adopted by the Youth Training Program. Dut on a more elastic basis. With exceptional qualifications for a specialized course, a man over thirty or a hoy under eighteen might he enrolled. One official executive puts it this way:
“It would be a gross injustice to the age groups we are trying to serve if we permitted the plan to be flooded by boys too immature to qualify for training, or by older men too set in their lifetime habits to learn new things.”
Apprenticeship to a skilled trade is a matter of years out of a man’s life. Therefore the Ontario Government does not consider its trainees in the older brackets as apprenticeship material, but rather as learners. Frederick J. Hawes. Inspector of Apprenticeship in Ontario, explains:
“A man of thirty or thereabout is usually not fitted to tackle an apprenticeship; but he can learn enough to establish himself as a definite industrial asset. Instead of being equipped only for sweeping floors or shining up the handle of the big front door, he can be taught to carry through the minor operations of a mechanical process. He can make himself an operator, or an assembler. In this way, he not only increases his earning jxnver, hut he makes a definite place for himself in industry. I íe is no longer merely an unskilled laborer. These men we call ‘learners,’ and the learners, at the end of their training, are better men than before in their earning capacity, and in spirit.”
Under the Youth Training Program, young men and women who are required to leave their homes for instruction in any of t he branches of industry covered by the plan are paid adequate wages and are given transjxtrtation there and back. The amount they lind in their weekly pay envelopes varies slightly in different provinces, and depends too upon the type of occupation in which the boys and girls are employed; but it is adequate, and it is their own money. They earn it. It is not a dole.
Some of the provinces require definite educational qualifications from applicants for training. This is altogether a provincial affair. The Dominion authority asks only one question:
"Are you at present employed?”
Once the trainee is in a forestry or mining camp, at an agricultural, domestictraining or trade-school centre, he or she must do an hottest job of work. 1 f the boys and girls won’t work, they are fired, just as they would be in commercial life.
In most communities throughout Canada, local committees of representative men and women have been set up to handle applicants from their own areas. Provincial and Dominion employment agencies are able to advise any ambitious applicant how to go about the business of enrolling.
Schoolteachers, the municipal authorities, almost anyone in public office, can supply the necessary information, or at least guide the enquiring youngster into the proper channels. The Department of Labor at Ottawa will supply the needed information, but they are pretty busy there just now.
All the training in the world will be of little value unless reasonably regular employment can be found for the boys and girls after they are trained. Dominion and Provincial authorities alike are fully aware of this fact. Experienced placement and vocational guidance workers have been occupied with this aspect of the problem ever since the plan was first put into operation. In some cases the Dominion Government has itself supplied special placement officers, employed on the
Dominion payroll, to Provincial districts. The record of every trainee will be thoroughly understood when the time comes for him or her to be established in industry. Employers are co-operating to the extent of pledging steady work for a stated term to the men and women recommended. The employer himself will select the workers he needs from applicants endorsed by the placement officers.
One of the first things anybody officially connected with the Dominion-Provincial Youth Training Program will tell you is this:
“There can be no politics in this; no discrimination as to race or creed.”
Our investigations uphold this claim to a noteworthy degree.
That is a most important something done, too.