Youth are our future, and the importance of assuring that youth needs are properly addressed cannot be overstated. Identifying key risks and gaps during youth adolescence through social programs, allows for a focus on the full development of the capacities of young people. Empowering youth is an investment for a stronger and healthier future.

Empirical research shows that youth whose family background, schooling and communities do not equip them with the skills and qualifications required by the labour market are particularly at risk of persistent or intermittent joblessness. A Ministry of Skills Development and Labour report reveals that "children growing up in Income Assistance households are more likely than children who are not from IA households to come back on IA themselves. The rates are 4 times as high for young women, and up to 8 times as high for young men."

Unless appropriate interventions are in place and adequate resources are made available to youth, the reinforcement and perpetuation of youth unemployment will only amplify. Such consequences of not addressing youth needs can be seen in the following ways:

  • Increased dependency on social benefits: Youth that face prolonged unemployment or exclusion from the labour market and are unable to make a sufficient living, are prone to cycle on and off Employment Insurance and Income Assistance.
  • Prolonged unemployment: This can lead to activities that put youth and our communities at risk. Unskilled, out-of-school youth are subject to unemployment for significant amounts of time and in turn feel a lack of hope for their future. This alienation can drive youth into the streets where crime, drugs, trafficking, and sexual exploitation are the norm. Furthermore, experiences of unemployment can produce long term, sometimes irreversible and intergenerational effects.
  • Early school leaving: Completion of compulsory schooling is no longer sufficient to find a decent job. Nowadays, post secondary education is generally regarded as the minimum credential required for successful labour market entry. Without any qualifications, there is an increased risk of exclusion and of poor labour market prospects. Many of these young people drop out of school and do not participate in jobs or careers.
  • Socio-economic costs: Research indicates that the cumulative costs of social assistance are significantly higher than the cost of youth enrolled in our program.

"In the stimulus package that the Federal government created to take us through the recession, about $8 billion dollars was spent on unemployment programs. Less than 1% was spent on youth… and this was for the group that was hit hardest by the recession."

Neil Sandell, CBC Producer, The Young and the Jobless, 2011