Global Talent Bridge Partner Blog

News on practice and policy affecting internationally trained immigrants and refugees

Opening Doors to Employment for Immigrant Youth

Monday August 30, 2021 | by Theresa Jones

Youth are the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow, the foundation of any country’s future workforce. Yet Canada’s youth—especially immigrant youth and young people of colour—face persistent barriers to employment. COVID-19 restrictions have only exacerbated this problem, causing youth unemployment rates to rise.

Early in the pandemic, jobs lost by young people accounted for about a quarter of all job losses nationally. Youth of colour, who make up close to 76 percent of immigrant youth in the Greater Toronto Area, have an unemployment rate of about 32.3 percent, almost double that of White youth at 18 percent, according to the 2020 Toronto Fallout Report.

In general, immigrant youth have high levels of educational attainment yet experience higher unemployment rates and are more likely to work in low-skilled, low-wage jobs.

Collaborative Response

To address the employment needs of immigrant youth and international students, WES has aligned itself with key partners in advocacy. Working with the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP), a national non-profit that provides a cross-sectoral approach to facilitating labour market integration for youth, WES has convened a roundtable of key stakeholders and workforce development actors across industries and regions: the National Roundtable on Workforce Development for Immigrant Youth.

Since January 2021, the Roundtable has led conversations and developed strategy to improve access to employment opportunities for immigrant youth in Canada. Made up of leaders in business, advocacy, education, and research, the Roundtable has set a goal of supporting positive long-term employment outcomes and economic empowerment of immigrant youth. Having identified various gaps in existing services and policy responses, the Roundtable is working to engage employers and empower immigrant youth to see themselves as a viable talent pool.

Implementing Responsive Change

The Roundtable plans to propose a series of “future-proof” recommendations that would close gaps in service, policy, and programmatic response. Once implemented, these recommendations would improve gainful employment and work-integrated learning opportunities for immigrant youth.

Areas of focus include:

  • Collecting comprehensive data on immigrant youth demographics and outcomes
  • Intentional collaboration and network building between regional and sectoral stakeholders
  • Promoting programming specific to immigrant youth
  • Enabling access to services, including mental health services, for international students

Immigrant Youth in Canada Report and National Town Hall

The Roundtable will produce a report to provide a more comprehensive understanding of existing data and research, highlighting current challenges facing immigrant youth. In recognition of the increased need for inclusivity and transparency within sectoral knowledge sharing, the report will seek to enable a more collective, more collaborative voice in immigrant youth workforce development. The Roundtable will also host a National Town Hall which will serve as a forum for discussion and ideation between stakeholders. Subscribe to the WES Global Talent Bridge newsletter to receive updates.

Roundtable Members

WES welcomes organizations and companies interested in collaborating with or learning more about the National Roundtable on Workforce Development for Immigrant Youth. To learn more, contact Ousama Alkhatib, Manager of Youth Initiatives at WES.

Theresa Jones is an intern with WES Global Talent Bridge in Canada.