CivicAction Employer Consultation

September 15, 2016

On September 15, CivicAction and the North Superior Workforce Planning Board brought together almost 20 local employers from government, social service organizations, and companies like TBT Engineering, Valhalla Inn, and North West Employment Works to talk about obstacles, best practices and tools to hire and retain young people facing barriers to employment.

Thunder Bay is among the top ten Canadian cities with the highest unemployment rate. It is estimated that almost 20% of youth in Thunder Bay are unemployed and an Aboriginal youth unemployment rate of over 35%.

By bringing together local employers, this event highlighted that the private sector can, and should, be part of the puzzle to solving youth unemployment in Thunder Bay and the benefits that come along with youth hiring (e.g. lower recruitment costs, increased productivity, and an enhanced talent pipeline)

Here’s what we heard in the discussion:

  • For many employers, it is difficult getting applicants who are youth facing barriers to employment.
  • Additional training needs of youth applicants were among the common challenges faced in recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retaining youth facing barriers to employment.
  • A collaborative approach is needed among high schools, parents, educators, post-secondary institutions, and employers in preparing youth for the workforce.
  • Local business in the hospitality and food service industry are facing challenges in filling entry-level positions and need young people to take these roles.
  • There are opportunities to create better outcomes for employers and youth through improved communications of goals and expectations from both sides.
  • There are various seasonal employment opportunities for youth however, it is difficult to find employment all year round.

Building on ground-breaking work in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area through the Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers initiative, this event was the last in a series of consultations CivicAction conducted this summer with employers across the province. Through the consultations, employers learned about the value of youth facing barriers as an employment stream and helped shape a suite of tools designed to support employers to engage and retain young talent.


This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

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