4.6 A fair deal for youth

A Nationwide Employment and Education Initiative for Youth 18-25.

Economic recessions – especially severe ones like the recession of 2009 – are especially challenging for youth at the beginning of their work careers or in post-secondary studies. They are vulnerable to economic and social dislocation because they lack the skills to compete strongly for scarce new jobs and yet cannot gain these skills without a job. They are in a Catch-22. That is why their unemployment and underemployment numbers often rise the fastest and ultimately go the highest among all demographic groups during economic downturns. To compound their predicament, they often have difficulty paying for rapidly rising post-secondary education tuition because they cannot save up at least some money from summer jobs or find part-time work during the academic year.

Although for the most part, Canada’s economy weathered the storms of the 2008 meltdown, unemployment among our youth remains at twice the national average – 14%. This is not acceptable.

The long-term economic and social implications of a growing group of economically disconnected and socially alienated youth is very serious and very costly – in Europe they are called the ‘NEET’ group (Not in Employment, Education, or Training). Canada is headed in a similar direction if the economic recovery is slow, as many are now predicting. We absolutely need to be decisive – and not reactive in three or four years – in addressing this emerging youth unemployment/under-employment and education affordability situation while the cost of intervention is in relative terms still low.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Provide clear and reliable data on labour markets, as recommended by the Advisory Panel on Labour Market Information, by investing $15 million to establish a new set of Labour Market Information (LMI) measurements;
  • Ban unpaid internships;
  • Boost access to apprentice programs in key trades, supporting those with skills to train youth through financial support to tradesmen in electricity, plumbing, carpentry, pipefitting, welding, etc;
  • Develop a Youth Community and Environment Service Corps that will provide federal minimum wage employment for 40 000 youth aged 18-25 every year for four years for a total of 160 000 youth positions. At the successful completion of each year-long program, there will be a $4,000 tuition credit awarded to each participant that can be applied to further education and training. Youth Service teams will vary in size depending on the projects undertaken, and will be given opportunities for career counseling and employment skills training during the course of the program;
  • Ensure Youth Community and Environmental Service Corps projects are developed in partnership with municipalities and based on local priorities. They can include numerous measures to minimize damage and injury from future climate change impacts, many different types of environmental protection and rehabilitation projects, specially-focused teams that provide social stimulation to institutionalized elderly through arts and music, assistance to low income households for energy efficiency upgrades, recreation programs for children at risk, capacity building for local food systems, etc.
  • This initiative will employ 160 000 youth over its 4-year life and is budgeted at $1.25 billion dollars a year for a combined total of $5 billion.