Alberta’s youth represent a large pool of available workers who are enthusiastic and technology savvy. Your company can benefit by taking steps to attract and retain youth in your workplace.
Benefits of hiring youth
Hiring youth makes good business sense. 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 cultural diversity found in today’s workplaces
- Innovative, bright thinkers who approach work with an entrepreneurial spirit that can help your business expand
In an active labour market, when vacancies can be hard to fill, young hires offer your business:
- A steady stream of new candidates to consider
- An adaptable workforce that’s open to change
- Reduced wage and salary costs due to their lower level of experience
In difficult economic times, when you have multiple job applicants to choose from, you can still reap the benefits of youth by:
- Finding qualified young candidates year-round, outside of the annual graduation cycle
- Recruiting top-ranking graduates who might not be available in a stronger economy
Attract and retain youth to your workplace
Attracting and retaining young employees may require a different approach to promoting your workplace. The major events in youths' lives are different, and they are looking for workplaces that respect their needs and career goals.
To attract youth, look beyond pay and traditional benefits and consider providing the following workplace perks:
- A respectful, positive work environment
- Opportunities for training
- Social events that build a sense of community for employees
- Good communication with co-workers
Young Albertans are looking for work where their priorities, diversity, enthusiasm, and ideas are respected and valued. Consider specific strategies to attract and retain young employees by:
- Targeting young job seekers with lighthearted and upbeat job ads. Advertise at schools and post-secondary institutions, and through online job boards and social networks. Take advantage of job boards such as the Canada Job Bank that allow you to showcase jobs as being ideal for students, youth, or apprentices.
- Promoting mentoring and other training options that help youth gain workplace experience, skills development, and safety training.
- Getting feedback from young employees and empowering them to submit ideas to improve your company, from suggestion boxes to brainstorming sessions to bonuses for best suggestions.
- Offering career development support, from providing links to career resources and covering all or some tuition fees for additional training, to brown bag lunches or workshop sessions focusing on career planning.
- Being flexible about work arrangements by offering options such as a variable work week, telecommuting, and flexible scheduling to accommodate personal needs, such as medical appointments or child care.
Incentives to hiring youth
You may be able to take advantage of incentive programs for hiring youth offered by the Government of Alberta. These programs may be specific to youth or they may be general programs that can support youth hiring:
- The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) to help students gain work experience and skills
- The Canada-Alberta Job Grant to support employee training
- The Workforce Partnerships program to support employers' efforts to attract and retain workers
- Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES) to assist in employing Albertans with disabilities
- Indigenous employment training programs to assist Indigenous people in finding and keeping meaningful employment
The federal government also has youth employment programs available, including the following:
- Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit
- Skills Link
- Career Focus
- Canada Summer Jobs
- Wage subsidies initiatives
While you may be considering youth as employees, make sure you understand what you can and can't ask in a job interview. For example, you can ask if an applicant is old enough to work legally in Alberta, but you cannot ask the applicant’s age. Additionally, you should know the laws regarding hiring young persons (ages 15 to 17), which set standards related to hours of work and requirements for supervision and approval of guardians. In addition, Alberta standards of employment apply to all workers regardless of age.
Hire youth now and for the long term
Hiring young Albertans comes with many advantages. Targeting youth for job openings may require some changes to your hiring process, but it may also result in some great new employees who will bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to your business.