News & Events


Workplace safety and pay equity discussed at Atlantic Canada Career Stay Youth Design Jam

September 08, 2020

In partnership with YMCA Newfoundland and Labrador, Opportunity For All Youth recently hosted CareerStart—a three-day design jam with youth participants from across the Atlantic Region.

Youth retention in early-talent roles has been a longstanding issue. A report released in 2015 by The  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the opportunities and challenges faced by young workers in Newfoundland and Labrador stated, “Despite the fact that the provincial economy is growing and there are arguably more opportunities for young people, youth outmigration and related youth attraction and retention remains a pressing issue for employers.”

As a group, the design jam participants identified a number of challenges, ranging from retention into early jobs, unclear salary and salary progression, what they felt was inequitable pay, a lack of info on health and safety rights under labour laws, to adapting to different management styles, schedules that impede work-life balance, and the increased skills and experience expectations for entry level opportunities.


Based on a vote within the group, participants picked the top two challenges and brainstormed innovative solutions:


Challenge #1:

Lack of communication from management regarding health and safety and rights under labour laws.

Solution: The Water Cooler Project

  • Improve front-line manager training
  • Encourage employee feedback and health and safety support through accessible communications channels
    • Design a curriculum/learning module through community consultations
    • Champion solution to senior level management and/or government
    • Set measurable objectives and key indicators (productivity and wellbeing)
    • Conduct a precedent study
    • Conduct community and industry consultations 


Cashier scanning products at a grocery store wearing a facemask – Source: Getty Images


Challenge #2

Undefined salary schemes and inequitable pay.

Solution: Shout for Wages Project

A National Living Wage Calculator designed by the government to ensure that equity, cost of living and transparency are considered in a company’s compensation structure. Youth suggested a list of actions that can be taken by employers, governments and community organizations to support youth who are struggling to build an independent life and advance their careers.

  • Target government – get government attention, both provincial and federal
  • Target HR and ask for more defined wages and benefits levels
  • Approach groups who are already advocating minimum wage
  • Involve youth group organizations in wage decision making
  • Target wage subsidy programs to assist with implementing equal pay structures
  • Reach out to universities and youth groups in the community to educate youth on how to champion for equal wages


The CareerStay Atlantic Canada Design Jam was held by O4AY on August 4th, 6th and 10th in partnership with the YMCA Newfoundland and Labrador.

O4AY is facilitating design jams with youth across Canada to bring out the creativity and problem-solving skills of youth, placing them at the centre of the conversation of how governments, community partners and employers can make meaningful employment opportunities more accessible to barriered youth.

Youth- we would like to hear from you!

What do you think of these ideas? What would you like to see?

If you’re interested in participating in future Design Jams, contact us here.

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