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Youth Careers, Okanagan Jobs, Employment Training, Free program, YMCA Employment Services

Finding work can be a difficult task, especially for today’s youth who face a perceived “skills gap” in the workforce and an above average national unemployment rate of 13.2 per cent.

For Dane Webster, age 22, determining a career path and finding sustainable work in his field of interest, proved to be complicated.

“I was out on my own at age 17,” says Webster. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at that point. It gets really confusing when you try to figure out a path on your own, and I would have benefited from a support network to help me explore options.”

Webster ended up working as an auditor in the airline industry at the age of 20 and although it was a good experience for him, he wasn’t passionate about his work and found he often had to be the “bad guy”, which he didn’t find rewarding.    

So when he was laid off due to a shortage of work in his industry, he wasn’t entirely disheartened.

“I wasn’t happy in my job,” says Webster. “I was laid off and decided to find out what my options were. Luckily, I was referred to a local employment program offered by the YMCA.”

After receiving two recommendations to go to one of the YMCA’s Youth Employment Programs — for individuals under the age of 30 — Webster decided to check it out. And he is sure glad he did.

“I was surprised by the program,” says Webster. “The material they teach really spoke to me. The whole time it was about personal development and it put more hope in my dreams.”    

Webster now has a clear direction and list of next steps to help him achieve his career aspirations.

I want to do a couple things,” says Webster. “There are a bunch of tickets I want to take. I want to be a red seal carpenter and open my own company, which I plan to expand from there. I also want to pursue Aquaponics and be the first renewable resource for the Okanagan Valley.”

Webster goes on to explain that he has many of his own designs for building tanks to make them more connected and efficient. He has always enjoyed building things and his time in YMCA Employment Programs renewed this passion and helped him realize his desire to utilize his strengths.

In addition to a clear direction and plan to get there, Webster also has a professional resume, experience networking and some great interview practice under his belt. His next step is to register in the apprenticeship program at Okanagan College for carpentry and he hopes to get in on their next intake.

“I think more youth should go through the Y’s employment programs” says Webster. “The people who run them are ridiculously friendly and helpful, and by the end of it you really have a sense of what you want to do and what you want to accomplish. You know you can always come back as well, which is great. It feels a bit like family. Definitely a ten out of ten in my books.”

The YMCA’s next employment program start date is November 7, 2016. If you are interested in joining this free training program to build your skills and find sustainable work you’ll love, call 250-861-JOBS (5627) or email You can also learn more about YMCA Youth Employment Programs at

Photo: Dane Webster at the Y’s end of program celebration — YMCA Youth Employment Programs