Expert Panel on Youth Employment: Summary

Budget 2016 announced an Expert Panel on Youth Employment to assess the barriers faced by youth in finding and keeping jobs, and to examine innovative practices used by governments, nongovernmental organizations and employers both at home and abroad to improve job opportunities for youth.

Youth is a time of transition and a critical time in one’s life. Positive or negative experiences with finding and retaining employment can set a course that impacts future employment. When youth have a solid foundation of skills and work experience, and are within a supportive social environment, their likelihood of achieving better employment outcomes increases.

Transitioning into employment is not without its challenges. By virtue of being young, youth lack the work experience that helps them find work. They are also less likely to have workplace seniority and, therefore, are more likely to be laid off, particularly during an economic downturn. Since 1990, the average rate of unemployment for youth between the ages of 15 and 29 has been 11.8%, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the general population (15 years and older) (8.1%).

Some youth however are more vulnerable than others in the labour market, including but not limited to Indigenous youth, recent immigrant youth and youth with disabilities. These groups tend to face unique challenges, including lower levels of education, which can lead to greater vulnerability in the labour market. Of particular concern are the 860,000 youth who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET). The longer a youth is NEET, the harder it can be for them to reintegrate into the labour market. In addition, youth with a slight foothold in the labour market but struggling to find full-time, stable employment are vulnerable to lower wages, poorer benefits and can be at risk of getting stuck in these jobs.

A broad range of Government of Canada policies and programs exist to support the labour market participation of vulnerable youth. Key amongst employment programming is the Youth Employment Strategy (YES), which assists young people between the ages of 15 and 30 to gain the information, skills, and work experience they need to successfully transition into the labour market. Budget 2016 committed an additional $165.4 million in YES funding for 2016-2017 on top of an additional $113 million investment per year in Canada Summer Jobs for the next three years, doubling the number of placements being offered to youth this summer.

The creation of this Expert Panel marks an important opportunity to understand the challenges that youth face in finding and keeping work as well as identify promising and innovative approaches to helping all youth transition successfully into the labour market. While the available research gives a picture of the barriers vulnerable youth face, this research provides only a partial account of the more complex reality for youth. By hearing from youth themselves, as well as those “on the ground” who live, interact and work with youth regularly, the national consultation led by the Panel will supplement the research and provide important insights and evidence for policy.

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