Opportunity For All Youth and Prince’s Trust Canada team up to support young workers
September 16, 2020
In an effort to take action on creating more equitable economic outcomes for youth, Opportunity For All Youth and Prince’s Trust Canada hosted a virtual event coined Spaces for Success— a panel session meant to engage and inspire employers to make it easier for young people to access employment opportunities and thrive in the workplace.
Take a look at Statistics Canada’s most recent labour force survey on youth unemployment and the results are clear: the global pandemic has caused overall youth unemployment to hit record highs, and has revealed the inequities faced by some of Canada’s most vulnerable workers, particularly for racialized youth.
According to the survey, the overall youth unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent in August, and hit an unprecedented high of 29.4 per cent in May. To compare, the unemployment rate for young Canadians peaked at 16.4 percent during the late-2000s recession. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the youth unemployment rate Canada averaged 11%.
The Statistics Canada data suggest that the economic outlook is more dire for racialized youth. The unemployment rate for racialized youth was far higher than for white Canadians: 32.3 per cent compared to 18 per cent.
To respond to this crisis, O4AY and Prince’s Trust Canada, invited a panel of experts whose work, in part, is dedicated to levelling the playing field for youth looking to gain their footing on a path to meaningful employment and creating inclusive spaces to foster a sense of belonging.
Joining the panel discussion were Noah Aiken-Klar, RBC, Habon Ali, Opportunity For All Youth, Christopher Delledonne, Bell Mobility, Retail & The Source, and Avelina Pun from the Yonge Street Mission (YSM).
“By hiring and focusing on youth, bringing in youth into jobs at Bell, whether it be through the retail environment or through our grad programs and early start programs, we get a more diverse and more real understanding of the needs of Canadians,” said Delledonne on the value that youth bring to the workplace.
When we talk about meaningful opportunities, a lot of young people shared with us that it looks like a place where they can learn, and transferable skills are key.
“Young people are incredibly flexible and can deal with navigating ambiguous situations, and this is due to the fact that we were faced with precarious work, day in and day out, before this pandemic,” added Ali.
As a summer intern at O4AY, Ali has been facilitating youth design jams with dozens of youth across the country over the last three months.
“When we talk about meaningful opportunities, a lot of young people shared with us that it looks like a place where they can learn, and transferable skills are key,” she said.
“What I’ve gathered [from young people] is that they would also appreciate having career-laddering opportunities,” added Pun, who is the employment services supervisor at YSM. “Being able to have upskilling opportunities within the organization and being able to have a sense of belonging and ownership and feeling that they are part of the organization’s community and culture.”
If you’re asking for a degree and you’re asking for 3-5 years of experience, then we can do the math about how old someone needs to be for often what are entry-level positions.
On barriers to accessing meaningful employment, Aiken-Klar highlighted that traditional experience requirements for youth have to be re-evaluated by employers.
“If you’re asking for a degree and you’re asking for 3-5 years of experience, then we can do the math about how old someone needs to be for often what are entry-level positions.”
On finding and retaining youth workers, he added, “We have to find them where they are, and that’s on us as employers. If we’re looking for the best talent and if we’re looking for diverse talent, we need to find them and can’t expect them to use the same old channels to reach us.”
The event moderator, Josee Thibault summed up the event, “For me what came through really loud and clear is that we’re really depriving ourselves of the value that diversity brings if we don’t make it a priority.”
The Spaces for Success virtual panel discussion was hosted by Prince’s Trust Canada and Opportunity For All Youth on August 25th, 2020.
Thank you to our sponsors and collaborators: RBC Future Launch, Government of Canada’s Skill Link Program, The Source and Yonge Street Mission.
O4AY and Prince’s Trust Canada are dedicated to helping young people and employers address barriers to employment and creating inclusive workplaces for all youth.
To learn about our unique program offerings, click on the organization links below and/or contact our representatives.
Lauren Stephen, National Manager, Youth Employment
Josée Thibault, Senior Manager, Youth Employment Strategies
View the full event here:
Join Us – Together with @PrincesTrustCA, we are talking about the importance of youth in the workplace, and how organizations can support young people in a competitive, post-COVID economy.
Posted by Opportunity For All Youth on Tuesday, August 25, 2020