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Youth Labour Shortages in Canada

By: CCYP, Mentor Canada, OTEC and NPower Canada

youth labour shortages in canada
A compilation of essays on lessons learned about youth labour market disengagement authored by our partner organizations: Mentor Canada, OTEC (Ontario Tourism Education Corporation) and NPower Canada.

The Research and Policy team at Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP) is pleased to introduce a compilation of essays on lessons learned about youth labour market disengagement authored by our partner organizations: Mentor Canada, OTEC (Ontario Tourism Education Corporation) and NPower Canada.


These three organizations actively work in the youth workforce development ecosystem. The labour shortages we have been learning about in the news, relevant as they are to youth employment issues, arise from a confluence of economic factors and qualitative factors like mentorship and career development that feed into those economic factors.


The organizations above have made their contributions here after listening to their youth clients and youth advisors on their views about the labour market.


Here are the facts about youth engagement in the labour market. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an outsized effect on youth employment from April 2020 and onwards.


Youth labour force participation, which represents the ‘engagement’ of 15 -24-year-olds in the labour market dropped during 2020, indicating that upon facing unemployment, youth dropped out of the labour market; they disengaged from the labour market that year.


After trending upwards since 2017, youth labour force participation rates dropped from a high of 65% in 2019 to 62% in 2020. This continued until late in 2021 when there was some recovery in youth labour participation during which time it rose to 64%. More youth were engaging/interacting with the labour market by then, either by being in active employment or actively looking for a job if unemployed.


This stood in contrast to the trough in youth labour participation the previous year, during the throes of the pandemic. But the shortfall in labour force participation by one percentage point in 2021 (64%) compared to 2019 (65%) does indicate that there were at least 97,000 fewer participating workers in the 15-24 age category in 2021 compared to 2019.


Some of those 97,000 "participating-in-the-labour-market" youth might have dropped out of the labour market to acquire education and skills training over that time. However, the inescapable fact is that there was 80,000 fewer youth (15-24-year-olds) in Canada in 2021 compared to 2019 (i.e. at least 80,000 youth ‘aged out’ of the youth category by 2021).


These numbers are merely suggestive of the long-known trend of ageing demographics in Canada.



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