13 Ways to modernize youth employment in Canada

I recently completed my time with the Expert Panel on Youth Employment and our report was submitted March 31st, 2017 to Minister Patty Hajdu (Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Minister of Youth). This week on Thursday it was released with this Facebook Live video/chat and the entire report is now available for you to read at Canada.ca/YouthPanel. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the #YouthPanel and wish to thank my fellow panelists, POP Entertainment & Management, AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities), Planners Plus and the many other organizations and individuals who supported this process and my participation in it.

While there is a lot of supporting information in the report I encourage you to check out, I know many are most interested in the recommendations. So, here they are from our Executive Summary, for more info, you’ll have to check out the whole report.


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Invest in the most vulnerable

1. Enhance YES: We recommend that the Government of Canada enhance YES to target those who need it most, and make it less onerous for employers and service providers. The Skills Link component should adopt a laser focus on providing wrap-around services to those at risk; Canada Summer Jobs should evolve to Canada Youth Jobs; and entrepreneurship should be promoted and supported as a valid career option for youth. We recommend that the Government of Canada also pilot youth employment innovation funding and partner with the new organization, recommended by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth and proposed in Budget 2017, which will invest in new and innovative skills development approaches.

2. Focus on Indigenous youth: The time has come to remove the profound barriers Indigenous youth face and provide these young people with equal opportunities. We specifically recommend that the Government create urban Indigenous healing and employment hubs; invest in basic and education infrastructure; develop distance education training; create an alumni fund to enable mentorship; and invest in entrepreneurial Indigenous youth.

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Streamline and simplify programming

3. Rethink the delivery of youth programming: The Government of Canada should examine the feasibility of devolving federal youth employment programming to the provinces and territories, with the proviso that the recommendations for enhancing YES be respected by their governments. We call on the Government to publicly report on its findings within 12 months.

4. Embrace civic technology: Although Job Bank was updated recently, we heard that with improvements it could better serve youth in navigating their employment pathways. To develop options to improve Job Bank, we recommend using the civic technology model to engage young thinkers interested in better understanding and finding solutions to civic challenges through technology, design and public participation.

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Walk the talk

5. Hire more young people: We propose that the Government of Canada set goals for and report on the proportion of new hires who are between the ages of 18 and 29, with efforts devoted to hiring youth in rural and remote areas, given that the Government is a large employer in these areas. In addition, we propose that the Government of Canada explore whether it could increase youth hiring through procurement.

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Engage employers

6. Convene a champions’ table: The Government of Canada should convene and sponsor a multi-sectoral roundtable of employers to establish a hiring goal or challenge, including a special focus on vulnerable youth.

7. Encourage mentorship: Inspired by the success of corporate mentoring partnerships led by other orders of government, we propose that the Government of Canada create a structure to partner with employers via the Champions’ Table and create more meaningful mentorship opportunities for vulnerable youth.

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Modernize supports

8. Update Canada’s Labour Standards: To address the precarious reality of work for young people, we recommend amending the Canada Labour Code Part III to increase job standards, rights and security for non-standard positions; regulate temporary placement agencies; eliminate unpaid internships; and promote respect for labour rights.

9. Broaden Employment Insurance (EI) eligibility: We propose that the Government explore modernizing EI to increase eligibility for young workers, taking into consideration the realities of non-standard work. This could include reducing eligibility requirements, adopting the same eligibility requirements in all parts of Canada and including “return to school” as a valid job separation reason for young workers.

10. Expand the definition of skills: We recommend that the Government of Canada complement the comprehensive listing of essential skills on the Job Bank with a holistic definition of the skills and competencies needed for a constantly evolving workplace.

11. Develop additional supports for young entrepreneurs: We propose that the Government include young entrepreneurs in trade missions; expand intergenerational mentorship initiatives; create a mechanism allowing entrepreneurs under 18 to be directors of their own corporations; and make the cost of membership-based accelerators and incubators tax deductible. We also recommend tailored supports for young immigrant entrepreneurs.

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Measure and refine

12. Get better data: We recommend that key youth employment statistics be redesigned to ensure that they accurately represent the unique dynamics of employment for youth; that the monthly Labour Force Survey be expanded to include a focus on vulnerable and NEET youth; that a youth category be added to the Statistics Canada website; and that outcome-based factors be collected for program evaluation.

13. Foster continuous improvement: We propose that an advisory committee be established to govern YES and provide continual, strategic advice on program design and best practices from service providers and stakeholders. We recommend this advisory committee work in collaboration with a new organization, recommended by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth.


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