News & Events


O4AY joins Can Youth Network’s webinar on employment and social enterprise

June 08, 2020

Opportunity For All Youth recently participated in the Employment and Social Enterprise webinar hosted by the CAN Youth Network, and over 3000 viewers tuned in to hear what our Program Manager, Sarah Vickery, The Hon. Minister Carla Qualtrough and Meghan Brodmann from Common Good Solutions said on the topic.

The webinar began with each panelist introducing their respective organization and how their role supports youth in the employment system, along with the challenges they are witnessing and how these issues have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“We’re really facing a real crisis of youth that are not able to access employment because of COVID,” said Vickery.

“Those who were previously considered in this NEET youth category now have all of a sudden been pushed further to the margins of accessing employment because the youth unemployment rate has risen to about 27 per cent this April,” she said.

“Overnight, employers went from doing face-to-face interviews to doing them digitally, which for those youth who may have been furthest away from employment and don’t have access to those means of digital interviews, it was a further barrier that we’re continuing to talk through how we bridge that gap,” the O4AY program manager said.

Meghan Brodmann, a consultant for Common Good Solutions, introduced how Social Shifters, a global network of social entrepreneurs is working to create a stronger economy while addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Brodmann explained how the growing network of social entrepreneurs is tackling issues around diversity and inclusion as they work to support all social entrepreneurs, including NEET youth.

Minister Carla Qualtrough explained how the Liberal Government has acted with unprecedented speed to amend existing employment programs and create new economic supports for youth and students in the midst of the pandemic.

“In the past, we used two years to consult, and $100,000 to design the system, only to find that we were two to five years behind,” the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said.

Question Period 

During the question period, a viewer wanted to know how the panelists’ organizations are advocating a living wage for youth and what they’re doing to ensure their work is valued.

Vickery said that in the face of economic challenges due to the pandemic, we have to start asking the right questions.

“Our organization’s goal is not only getting 40,000 people employed but addressing the financial systemic barriers that are keeping youth out of work,” she said.

“Marginalized workers now being deemed “heroes” as essential workers, how do we keep the recognition of how important those types of work are after the crisis has passed? How do we ensure the work and the supply chain is valued for a role that was once seen as “your first part-time job,” Vickery explained.

“One of the positive and game-changing outcomes is that [COVID-19] is accelerating the conversations around how we value work and how youth are contributing meaningfully to their communities,” added Minister Qualtrough.

“Quite frankly our EI system is antiquated, clunky and exclusive. So many workers in this country aren’t eligible for EI [employment insurance] for the type of work they do,” the minister highlighted.

The minister also stressed that in the midst of rebuilding a strong post-COVID economy, there is a “massive opportunity” for youth to reshape the Canada they want.

The CAN Youth webinar was held on May 17th and hosted by Alfred Burgesson from the CAN Youth Network. The bilingual seminar was translated by Pierre-Antoine Descôteux from CAN Youth.

Government supports and programs can be found here.

Watch the full video here:

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