It’s a vicious cycle familiar to many young people trying to enter the workforce: you can’t get experience without a job, and you can’t get a job without experience. Hoping to help Toronto’s youth—who face about 20 per cent unemployment rates—is a suite of new projects being launched by CivicAction, in conjunction with several private sector partners. Together, the initiative is called Escalator
The first element of Escalator, explains CivicAction’s CEO Sevaun Palvetzian, is a mentoring piece. Of the 83,000 young people in the GTA who don’t have jobs, many struggle with a lack of networks and role models that can help open that vital door to a first shot at employment. Escalator will aim to provide a centralized, organized way to access mentoring opportunities in the region, while also recruiting employers who can serve as mentors and linking community agencies with mentors more effectively.
The second pice is a collaboration with LinkedIn. “For many years the way people found jobs was by knocking on doors and walking into stores, “ Palvetzian points out. But now, “there's a new 21st century way of finding work.”
CivicAction is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from LinkedIn, and will also have access to some staff resources. The goal of this part of the project is to enable small- and medium-sized businesses post entry level jobs, as well as internship and apprenticeship opportunities, on the job platform for free, while simultaneously training youth in how to use that platform.
The third element of Escalator is another partnership, with technology services company NPower. “One third of the tech jobs in North America are in this region,” Palvetzian says, but often companies can’t find the trained, skilled workers that they need to keep growing. This part of the initiative will take youth from at-risk neighbourhoods and bring them to employer-led, employer-driven training. Ryerson is donating space to facilitate the project, which will include 15 weeks training by employers, followed by seven-week long internships. (Among the private sector partners that have signed on to participate are Cisco, TD Bank, and RBC.)
Palvetzian frames Escalator as a way of trying to fill in gaps in our current system. “A lot of current programs currently exist to help young people to do things like build resumes,” she points out—how to proceed once they’ve done that is often less clear.
Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction