• YWCA Employment youth services

YWCA employment centres help jobless youth get ahead


After graduating from McGill University, Lauren moved to Vancouver from her hometown of Montreal in January, 2011, looking for a change of pace and a change of lifestyle. Lauren, whose passion is working with youth, was eager to find work in her field and began her job search as soon as she arrived here.

“I was doing the traditional going online and applying to jobs,” says the 25-year-old. “I had two or three interviews in the span of three months, but nothing was coming back and I was getting really discouraged.”

Lauren certainly isn’t alone. In Canada, the rate for unemployed youth stands at about 15 per cent, just over twice the national average of 7.2 per cent. Poor prospects mean almost 200,000 youth jobseekers have left the labour force since the 2009 recession began, and the youth participation rate has tumbled to a 16-month low.

According to TD Economist Francis Fong’s 2012 report, The Plight of Young Workers, in addition to competition within their own age group, youth jobseekers now must compete with older workers looking to reenter the labour market and those more experienced who lost their job during the recession. Meanwhile, many older Canadians are delaying retirement and preventing job vacancies from building.

“Lack of experience, lack of networks, those are also big things,” says Helen Kim, career advisor with YWCA Metro Vancouver’s WorkBC Employment Services Centre – Career Zone Youth Satellite. The YWCA operates seven WorkBC Employment Services Centres to help connect male and female jobseekers with employment—two of which are specifically targeted at people from 16 to 30 years of age. The employment centres offer jobseekers a range of free services like career workshops, job boards, job search resources and one-to-one career advice.

Concerned over the lack of headway she was making in her job hunt, Lauren sought out advice at the Career Zone Youth Satellite, where she was connected with Helen.

“At first I felt like, why can’t I just do it myself, what’s wrong?” says Lauren. “But then after my first meeting with Helen I thought this was awesome. I need help so I’m going to use these resources.”

As a newcomer to Vancouver, Lauren had few connections in her industry so Helen advised her to conduct information interviews as a way to network and get ahead of the pack. “I started doing informational interviews and connecting with people,” says Lauren. “It was good to start meeting people in the industry and get some advice on where to look for jobs.”

With Helen’s help, Lauren landed a position as a day-camp coordinator with the YMCA. Now she’s interviewing for a full-time permanent position as regional coordinator for a youth summer exchange program. Helen, meanwhile, has some sound advice for youth job seekers:

  • They say 80 to 90 per cent of jobs are found through networking so if you’re spending 100 per cent of your time online looking for work, you need to re-evaluate your strategy.
  • Always pay attention to how you’re looking for work and seek out resources because there are a lot of services that can help!

 For more information on job search support, read up on our employment services for youth.

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