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Working With Employers to Recruit and Retain Youth

Although youth generally begin working in entry-level positions, it is important that they develop in-demand skills to grow their careers. As a counsellor, you can work with employers to help them launch the careers of young employees in a supportive way.

Through your work with your youth clientele, you can encourage employers to:

  • Think beyond traditional ideas of which industries can be a good fit for young people, including those with less education
  • View entry-level jobs as part of an overall career path
  • Provide professional development and networking opportunities

The benefits of hiring youth

Let employers know that hiring youth makes good business sense. Supporting their career development benefits employers, reducing the cost of turnover, external recruitment, and onboarding. Young workers are often:

  • Energetic, flexible, and open-minded
  • More likely to offer a fresh outlook and to consider different ways to do things
  • Comfortable and skilled with technology
  • Active on social media, connecting with people who may need the services of their employers
  • Accustomed to multi-tasking
  • Newly trained and tuned into the latest market research, perspectives, and approaches
  • At home with the diversity found in today’s workplaces
  • Innovative, bright thinkers who approach work with an entrepreneurial spirit that can help your business expand

Especially in an active labour market, when vacancies can be hard to fill, young hires offer employers:

  • A steady stream of new candidates
  • An adaptable workforce that’s open to change
  • Reduced wage and salary costs due to their lower level of experience

Labour market information

“Failure to improve job prospects for young Albertans will accelerate migration out of the province, taking away our future talent base.”

—Business Council of Alberta

The Alberta labour force profile for youth provides labour market statistics and trends for Alberta youth (aged 15 to 24). Topics include employment, unemployment, labour force participation, industry, wages, education, and demographics.

Traditionally, industries such as retail and trade, accommodation and food services, and construction have employed the highest number of youth. As a youth employment counsellor, you should also consider other industries with entry-level jobs that provide specialized training. This is especially useful in fields that are projected to grow, such as technology, health care, and insurance.

Success factors for employing youth

Recruiting youth

Help employers who are interested in hiring youth to market themselves by:

  • Targeting young job seekers with lighthearted and upbeat job ads.
  • Advertising at schools and post-secondary institutions.
  • Advertising through online social networks.
  • Taking advantage of job boards such as the Government of Canada’s Job Bank for Youth or TalentEgg. Sites like these allow employers to showcase jobs as being ideal for students, youth, or apprentices. Alberta job ads posted to the Job Bank for Youth will automatically appear in the Alberta Job Postings here on alis.

Creating a positive work environment

To attract and retain young employees, employers may need to think beyond traditional pay and benefits. Youth want to work where their priorities, diversity, enthusiasm, and ideas are valued.

Encourage employers to consider the following strategies to help youth feel engaged and respected in the workplace:

  • Get feedback from young employees and empower them to submit ideas to improve the company. For example, use suggestion boxes or hold brainstorming sessions. Offer bonuses for the best ideas.
  • Organize social events that build a sense of community for employees.
  • Be flexible about work arrangements. Offer options such as a variable work week, telecommuting, and flexible scheduling to meet personal needs and preferences.

Supporting career development

“The quality of training and the results for both Alberta youth and businesses depend heavily on the work that businesses themselves put in. They need to be able to accurately understand and assess the skills and competencies they need in the workplace; create a learning plan; and provide dedicated resources to guide, mentor and assess the trainees.”

—Business Council of Alberta

Automation is threatening to make many entry-level jobs obsolete. That’s why youth—and their employers—need to think about early job experiences as a first step in a longer-term career plan.

Let employers know they can support the career growth of young people when they:

  • Define a core set of skills that an employee can expect to develop on the job that will lead to more responsibility and higher-paying jobs.
  • Promote mentoring and other training options that help youth gain workplace experience, skills development, and safety training.
  • Offer career development support. For example, they can provide links to career resources, cover tuition fees for additional training, or hold workshops on career planning.
  • Providing structured opportunities for meaningful networking with professionals in the field.

Incentives to hiring youth

Employers may be able to take advantage of incentives for hiring youth. These government or not-for-profit programs can be general or sector specific. For example: The Youth Employment and Skills Strategy offers funding to help youth, particularly those facing barriers to employment. Young people can get the information and gain the skills, work experience, and abilities they need to transition into the labour market.

Legal obligations

In considering youth as employees, employers must understand what they can and can’t ask in a job interview. For example, you may need to point out that they can ask if an applicant is old enough to work legally in Alberta, but they cannot ask the applicant’s age.

Make sure they understand the youth employment laws, which set standards related to hours of work as well as requirements for supervision and approval of guardians. In addition, Alberta employment standards rules apply to all workers regardless of age.

If employers have questions about hiring youth, direct them to Employment Standards for more information.

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