Jobs are Back! But where are the Employees?
September 15, 2021
By: Angela Simo Brown, Lead Executive – Opportunity for All Youth
At Opportunity for All Youth, we focus on helping young people who face barriers to employment find meaningful jobs and help employers fill early talent roles.
Last year was a challenging year for young people in Canada. Entry-level jobs in key sectors like retail, tourism, and hospitality all but disappeared due to the pandemic. Youth unemployment hit a record high of 24%. We thought everything would go back to normal once the jobs came back. We were half right.
Today, jobs are back. As per last week’s Statistics Canada labour report, youth employment levels are mostly back to pre-pandemic levels. But the picture is not all rosy. Any employer trying to hire right now will tell you there is a significant labour shortage across Canada. In June, Canada had more than 800,000 job vacancies. Surprisingly, there are also over 800,000 young people not in jobs, education or training in Canada. It is perplexing why so many jobs are going unfilled with so many young people available. What gives and what can we do about it?
How we got here
There are many reasons for the labour shortage, all colliding with each other to create a perfect storm:
- After extended closures due to the pandemic, many young people left the popular yet heavily hit retail, tourism and hospitality sectors and found new employment.
- Many potential young employees are waiting to see if closures come back, hesitating to start a job in case of a repeat of last year.
- Others are back to school, upgrading their education.
- The usual influx of international students and workers who often work in hourly wage jobs has slowed due to the pandemic.
- Many young people are avoiding public-facing jobs for fear of contracting Covid.
- Some are still receiving the Canada Relief Benefit (CRB), making the same or more than they would at a minimum wage job.
- Many find the online application hiring process complicated and discouraging and stop looking.
Screen in prospective employees, don’t filter out
The good news is that at Opportunity for All Youth, we have built a talent pipeline with thousands of young people actively seeking work. We ensure they don’t feel discouraged and can successfully navigate the hiring process. We also work closely with our coalition of employers committed to removing barriers to the hiring process for early-career job candidates.
In addition to us being able to help employers access unique youth talent, we have identified several simple ways that employers can adapt hiring processes to be more youth-friendly and applicant-centric to attract more candidates. Some of our suggestions to employers include:
1) Remove unnecessary steps and filters: Having fewer application and assessment forms will increase your candidate pool. Removing background checks, second interviews, and filtering criteria such as post-secondary education and resume requirements also helps. Screen in prospective employees, don’t filter them out. Also, some employers see great success with a completely revamped interview process with no resumes where candidates provide life story examples in the interview.
2) Have a clear, straightforward process: Create, communicate and maintain a clear and consistent hiring process. Often candidates drop off because of confusion or lack of communication regarding the next steps.
3)Accept candidates with low fluency and visas: Many newcomers to Canada are urgently seeking work. If more employers accommodate lower English fluency or employees on visas, many more jobs can be filled.
4) Increase pay or total compensation: We can’t avoid the critical topic of compensation in this conversation. Many young potential hourly workers say they would be willing to work if their pay increased. We know that is not possible for all companies. However, those companies who are raising pay and benefits are successfully attracting and retaining more employees. Other companies are having success through incentives such as a free phone, gift cards or extra holidays to sweeten the pot.
5) Promote the value of the job to candidates: We see an opportunity for employers to actively promote the value of the job to candidates, including the transferable skills the young person will garner and the opportunity for advancement within the organization. Many young potential employees are looking for meaningful work with a company that provides a beneficial purpose to society. Companies can benefit from highlighting how an employee’s work would contribute to a positive impact.
Opportunity for All Youth provides a unique talent pipeline
Even though there is currently a labour supply shortage, there are many things that employers can do to improve their hiring success starting today.
Consider partnering with Opportunity for All Youth. With one of Canada’s largest talent pools of young people actively seeking work, our team provides access to a unique talent pool, plus we share employer best practices on how to remove barriers in hiring processes to fill roles more efficiently. Through partnering with us, employers regularly see significant hiring cost savings and improved employee retention.
The pandemic has significantly changed the traditional entry-level labour market supply and demand relationships and cycles. No one knows when or if things will return to how they were. Today it is a candidate’s market. To attract more candidates, especially youth, employers will do well to implement new youth-friendly hiring approaches that put youth candidate needs first.