News & Events


Innovative Ideas Sought at O4AY’s Second Youth Design Jam

June 16, 2020

By: Seray Pulluk

In partnership with the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity and NPower Canada, O4AY hosted a two-day youth design jam session with ten alumni from the NPower Junior IT Analyst program.

The purpose of the design jam was to discuss and explore big ideas and solutions around challenges within the youth employment landscape.

Participants had varying backgrounds, including immigrants, newcomers and Canadian-born youth, ranging from individuals with professional experience to little or no work experience.

The activities were broken down into three modules where youth carved out challenges within the youth employment sector, ideated solutions, and designed tools to address those challenges.


Discovery Session – challenges in the youth employment sector

On the first day, youth engaged in a “discovery session”, which entailed a discussion of questions and challenges surrounding the youth employment sector, such as:

  • What does meaningful work mean to you?
  • What is great for youth to access employment?
  • What is challenging for youth to access employment?


Homing In – top three challenges in youth employment sector 

On the second day, youth voted on top three challenges plaguing the youth employment system:to discuss and ideate.

Challenge #1: Youth have little or some professional experience, but it is not enough.

Challenge #2: Youth have no connections in their industry.

Challenge #3: Youth not in formal education can’t access co-ops or placements.


Ideating Solutions

From there, youth broke up into smaller groups to brainstorm solutions and ideas. Here are some of the big ideas that emerged from the discussions:

Idea #1: Develop new and non-traditional paths to build tech skills

Open access to co-op and internship opportunities beyond the post-secondary access point is key to entry into the tech field for those not in formal training. Most entry-level IT jobs require experience which is often secured through post-secondary co-op or internship placements. Youth with keen interest and valuable skill but little or some professional experience are prevented from accessing that pipeline to entry-level IT jobs and find it difficult to find opportunities to demonstrate their competencies.

Idea #2: A mentoring app

A mentoring app for youth that connects them with industry-specific experts would provide them with inside info but could also serve as a building block for an intergenerational skill-share platform, where more seasoned professionals can also learn from valuable skills youth have developed. Youth in the group recognized the need for industry-specific feedback and to grow their network and deepen connections in order to find opportunities.

Idea #3: LinkedIn is a powerful tool to leverage for networking

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job searching, networking, and gaining visibility, but youth generally are unsure how to navigate it effectively. (O4AY will develop a relationship with LinkedIn so that registrants can get personalised training and premium access).


Designing Solutions –tools to solve challenges

Participants topped off the two-day session by sharing some exceptional design ideas for tools to address the challenges discussed:

Solution #1: InterviewMe: an app that would enable youth to get on-the-spot feedback via text, phone or video chat by employment service providers and mentors.

Solution #2: Get Youth Employed: a program that would attach paid co-op opportunities for every student (college, university and high school) to gain practical skills. It could expand from Canada Summer Jobs to include different opportunities for varying levels of education and encourage organizations to create positions for each level. This program could start the summer after high school or could be incorporated into high school curriculum.

Solution #3: The NETWORTH! Project: a program to encourage high school students to participate in co-op opportunities and provide training and practice for networking.

The Design Jam was held by O4AY on May 26th and 28th in partnership with CCYP and NPower.

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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