Youth Employment Series: Where Do We Go From Here?

Home Youth EmploymentYouth Employment Series: Where Do We Go From Here?

Over the past year we have examined the pandemic’s impact on local youth employment. Much of this information has been shared through a blog post series highlighting:

  • The state of youth employment
  • Youth-identified barriers to employment
  • A local youth training success story
  • Stories shared by local youth

Here, we focus on a retrospective examination of youth employment impacts, while also outlining some potential paths forward. These recommendations come from our own youth consultations in addition to a summary of insights gleaned by Civiconnect, Canadian Heritage, and the YWCA Canada and YMCA Canada.

Youth Labour Force – Key Performance Indicators

This first figure outlines annual employment indicators for local youth. These data show that 2020 was a particularly difficult year in terms of employment. In 2021, unemployment decreased from its 2020 highs for both men and women. In addition, the employment and participation rates increased though they still lag behind pre-pandemic rates.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0385-01 Labour force characteristics, annual

Youth Employment

Throughout the first year of the pandemic, we saw that employment for youth was considerably lower than in 2019. Looking at the most recent data shows that youth employment is slowly recovering. 

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0378-01  Labour force characteristics, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality

Moving Forward: Community Recommendations

Throughout our local consultations with youth cohorts, the following recommendations were noted:

  • Community initiatives that provide training in targeted fields outside of where we typically see employment concentrated in Niagara
  • Youth-focused job searching services (e.g., resume and job application assistance – particularly for youth in high school)
  • Funded/free options for continuing education
  • More working opportunities for young professionals
  • Initiatives focused on work-life balance

Given that some of these resources are available (i.e., employment services) ensuring that they are promoted to youth would be of value.

In Civiconnect’s Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth in Niagara[1], youth noted that the following supports would be valuable:

  • More funding going towards technology access
  • Support for recent graduates while looking for employment
  • Investing in more mental health services
  • Limiting the cost to training and education

National-level Insights

Both the YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada report and the Canadian Heritage State of Youth Report provide recommendations for initiatives that address employment and training:

Employment and training barriers

  • State of Youth Report[2]
    • Incentivize co-op and internships for education institutions and provide more investments for work-integrated learning
    • Ensure internships provide pay
    • Create regulations that eliminate precarious employment
    • Invest in internet networks in rural and remote areas
    • Highlight the importance of transferrable skills
    • Lower tuition and/or make more funding opportunities available
  • YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada[3]
    • Adjust the Canada Summer Jobs program to provide employment opportunities throughout the entire year
    • Ensure that employment programs support multi-barriered individuals
    • Look to labour market insights to direct youth recruitment/training
    • Have employment training integrated with other wrap-around youth services
    • Investigate opportunities for a national “Youth Guarantee” policy – youth are offered employment/training opportunities after finishing school or leaving a job (i.e., within 16 weeks

Taking the above recommendations into consideration, it is clear that a variety of supports would be valuable to assist in youth employment and training moving forward.

Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Please reach out to Vivian Kinnaird ([email protected]) or Thalia Semplonius ([email protected]).


[1] Civiconnect (October 2021). Impacts of COVID-19 on youth in Niagara: A community needs assessment.

[2] Canadian Heritage (2021). Canada’s first state of youth report.

[3] YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada (August 2021). Preventing a lockdown generation: A plan to support Canada’s youth in post-pandemic recovery

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