Canadian HR Reporter

November 14, 2016

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER November 14, 2016 6 NEWS Employee Recognition, Made Easy! Request a Demo 800.253.0882 Get a FREE Demo on the road to employment, and seek out innovative practices already in place elsewhere, rec- ommending best practices to government. Forming the panel is a key move in the government's focus on Canada's youth, said Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk. "Investing in jobs for young people is an investment in Cana- da's future," she said. "We're going to help young Canadians find jobs and get the best start possible to their careers." Looking for answers e panel's findings will help di- rect legislation, said Vass Bednar, associate director at the Martin Prosperity Institute, an economic think tank associated with the University of Toronto, and head of the newly formed panel. "We know that youth were hit hardest by the recession in 2008, 2009… and the longer a younger person is not in school, not in work and not being trained, the further they fall behind and the harder it is to get a foothold in the labour force." e world of work has funda- mentally changed, said Bednar, pointing towards the shift away from unpaid internships and cor- responding linkage to the aca- demic process. "But that has not been replaced by any intermediary work expe- rience for young people. I think one of the bigger questions is: 'Where and how do we strike that balance? How do we do it together, and who is responsible for that?'" Debunking myths surrounding youth loyalty and employer reluc- tance may also be a result of the panel's findings, said Bednar. "Maybe we can offer better, more accurate, statistically driven personas of young Canadians who are looking to work," she said. "ere's hopefully going to be a little bit of mythbusting through our report." Skewed statistics? But at least one expert is con- cerned that the premise of the government's study is too broad to achieve concrete results. Philip Cross, a senior fellow at the MacDonald-Laurier Insti- tute in Ottawa, authored a study last fall that said the inclusion of 15-year-olds in youth labour sur- veys is misleading. Tackling the needs of 15- to 29-year-olds in one massive study could result in solutions being missed. "e needs of teens and the needs of 20-year-olds tend to be much different," he said. "So ap- proaching them as one and the same is likely to be a big mistake." Twenty- to 24-year-olds are do- ing OK, but there's still the prob- lem of teen unemployment, said Cross. "e problem of teens seems to be separate and much more dire than the problem of young adults. Once people get into their 20s, it seems that they are transitioning into the labour force as well as they ever have," he said. "It's always been difficult… it's not ever easy, but it doesn't seem to be any worse today than it was before. What seems to be clearly worse today is teen employment." Employers shouldn't be mistak- en as public charities, said Cross, as most employers simply want to hire the best available candidate. Governments should consider reducing minimum wage for teens to combat the lower pro- ductivity and higher regulation costs, he said. "It's not the responsibility of employers to solve this problem," said Cross. "It's the responsibility of government." Sell hope, not fear Not all experts believe youth are in dire straits when it comes to gaining meaningful employment in Canada. "I find that too pessimistic," said Tim Lang, president and CEO of Youth Employment Ser- vices (YES) in Toronto. "It's true that it's tough out there, but I'm still optimistic that with the right approaches and government support… we can make positive changes." "Not that I want to sound like everything's rosy, but sounding overly pessimistic just adds to the doubts in young peoples' minds," he said. "They've got to know that it's going to take time, but you have to stay hopeful and stay diligent." Toronto's youth unemployment rate is 22 per cent, said Lang, well up from the national rate of 13.2. Nevertheless, if the newly formed panel mines "real ideas that work," he said, then the government's contribution will be worthwhile. "You don't have to recreate the wheel," he said. "You can look at countries like Germany and see why their youth unemployment rate is half of Canada's. To some extent, if they just start to emulate the best countries in the world, we can make great changes." Some youth employment prob- lems include a lack of awareness as to what type of jobs actually exist, and the fact that employers tend to lean towards jobseekers with experience — especially dur- ing an economic downturn, said Lang. e education system could play a larger role in terms of job preparedness, he said. "It's our wish that more com- panies would be open to hiring youth," said Lang. Despite the po- tential for extra training costs, the desire youths have to work helps offset that, he said. Talent mismatch Hiring managers believe young jobseekers have neither the soft skills nor the industry knowledge to add value to their employers, said Rowan O'Grady, president of Hays Canada, a recruiting agency, citing nationwide surveys. So the government's involvement comes at a crucial moment. "It's a dire situation, and I think it's just going to get worse and worse," he said. "Canada has got a talent mismatch. We've got a lot of job skill sets that there's a shortage of, and we've got a lot of people who can't find satisfactory levels of employment." "e problem obviously is that the people looking for the work don't have the skills that the em- ployer is looking for." If something isn't done — and soon — Canada could end up with a "skills chasm, as opposed to a skills gap," said O'Grady. To alter recruitment strategies, employers should host industry forums in universities and col- leges, where ideal skill sets being sought are revealed, he said. Another option would be to ac- cess potential candidates earlier through short-term work place- ments while they are still students, he said. "Why not bring somebody in and have them do the lowest-level junior job in the company?" said O'Grady. "Why not get somebody to come in and just do data entry for three months?" "If you're a first-year mechani- cal engineering student and you get to spend two to three months at a company… then you're getting exactly what the employer wants — industry experience. It's a very low-risk situation for the employ- er and individual, and everybody gets what they want." Too many graduates' resumés look the same, said O'Grady, but those with work experience in the field will stand out. "My advice to an individual is: If you're serious and you do want a career, then you've got to take per- sonal responsibility for it and get exposure to that industry." Discontent growing e frustrations of young workers are becoming more pronounced, despite the government's recent panel formation. Delegates at a youth labour forum turned their backs on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Canadian Labour Congress event in Ottawa in October, with several criticizing comments by Finance Minister Bill Morneau concerning high turnover and short-term contracts that will continue to face young workers in Canada. e federal government also received criticism for failing to meet its target of creating 5,000 new green jobs for youth — a promise made during the run-up to the 2015 election, according to the Canadian Press. Canada could face 'skills chasm,' not just skills gap JOBLESS < pg. 1 Governments should consider reducing minimum wage for teens to combat lower productivity and higher regulation costs. ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY! 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