Canadian Youth Employment: Challenges Young Canadians Face in the Canadian Job Market

Canadian youth often have many hurdles to overcome in order to find meaningful employment in the job market. Even if they have the transferable knowledge and skills to be successful in a particular job role, organizations may still pass on a qualified young candidate for various reasons. The decision to pass on an applicant from the youth demographic, ranging from age 15-29, can be attributed to the notion of Canadian employers not fully recognizing the potential and value that young Canadian workers bring to the table. Despite understanding the fresh perspective and new approach that younger workers may bring to their firm, companies operating in Canada may still be reluctant to take on a younger worker.

What is holding Canadian youth back in the job market? For one, negative stereotypes of millennials being entitled and lazy is a hindrance when it comes to greater opportunity for youth. Recruitment & selection, along with training & development, are all significant operational costs for a business. When a business decides to hire an employee, they are essentially making an investment. Indications of an employee showing initiative, commitment, and promise for growth, are key when deciding to hire an employee. Based on misperceptions of youth, and their attitude towards work, employers may pass on a strong candidate.

Another significant challenge that Canadian youth have when entering the job market is their lack of work experience. Without adequate experience – a certain period of being in the field – hiring companies are not definitively sure of a candidate’s competency and whether they will fulfill the expectations of the position. Prior work experience gives employers assurance that the applicant is familiar with the role and has demonstrated an understanding of the Canadian workplace dynamic, in general. The aforementioned leaves Canadian youth, looking to enter the job market, in a tough predicament. Employers are looking for workers with prior experience in the field, making it difficult for young workers to get hired; however, in order to gain this relevant work experience, employees must get hired in the first place.

Many companies, operating in Canada, have made the transition from hiring workers for full-time permanent work to having them on for part-time employment and contract work (e.g., temporary contracts). Therefore, even when Canadian workers are hired, there is not as much job stability. The transition in types of work available, and the greater lack of certainty, definitely adds to the challenges Canadian Youth face in the market.

In the changing job market, networking is becoming increasingly important. The phrase “it is not what you know, it is who you know.” resounds with many young Canadians looking for work. Young candidates are learning that their academic credentials and volunteer experience can only take them so far. Another aspect of being successful is building a network and navigating through this network in order to gain further knowledge and experience. By doing so, the candidate will be able to make a presence in their particular field and learn about job opportunities in the hidden job market. is a national resource for first nation job seekers looking to work across Canada. is a national job board for new immigrants to Canada


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