Colleges and institutes to help youth develop the necessary skills for success with Skills Compass

Ottawa, July 13, 2021 – During periods of economic instability, Indigenous and Newcomer youth are more prone to being “Not in Employment, Education, or Training” (NEET). To better support these groups, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is launching Skills Compass, a three-year initiative funded by the Government of Canada under the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS).

The overarching goal of the project is to improve access to education and training, wrap-around supports, and career pathways for Indigenous and newcomer youth between the ages of 15 and 30 who are NEET. This is in line with CICan’s commitment to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to reduce inequalities and empower and promote social, economic, and political inclusion by 2030.

As part of the project, CICan is collaborating with five member colleges and institutes across Canada to support the co-design, implementation, and delivery of the Skills Compass program for up to 150 NEET youth. Out of the five members involved, Douglas College (BC), Bow Valley College (AB), and College of the North Atlantic (NL) will implement and deliver the program for Newcomer youth, and Red River College (MB) and Collège d’Alma (QC) will focus on tailoring the program for Indigenous youth.

As a first step, CICan conducted an environmental scan to better understand the college sector programs and resources available to support these disenfranchised groups.

CICan has partnered with the Social Research Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) to support project evaluation until 2023. The project will also enhance opportunities for Canadian-based colleges and institutes to work with community-based youth-serving agencies to address concerns and issues related to accessing mentorship services and identifying and accessing appropriate wrap-around services.


“By taking bold action and thinking outside of the box, our government is preparing young Canadians for success and ensuring an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collaboration with Colleges and Institutes Canada is a great example of how government can work with community organizations to break down barriers to employment and create long-lasting change in the lives of young people. When we make skills-building and job opportunities available to young Canadians, we all succeed.”

  • Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“Thanks to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy Program (YESS), our Skills Compass program will leverage the strength and full potential of our member colleges and institutes to help Indigenous and Newcomer youth gain the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the labor market. This will be a way to implement a lasting change and help our members forge stronger ties with these vulnerable and under-represented populations.”

  • Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada

About Colleges and Institutes Canada:

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the voice of Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. CICan’s members add over $190B to Canada’s economy each year and contribute to inclusive economic growth by working with industry and community partners to offer more than 10,000 programs to learners in urban, rural, remote, and northern communities.


For more information:

Julien Abord-Babin
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
Colleges and Institutes Canada
Phone: 613-746-2222 ext. 3131
Twitter: @CollegeCan