By Gerald V. Paul
Mayor John Tory has issued a challenge to Toronto employers to expand the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) program which matches potential candidates to job opportunities.
“The reality is that the youth employment rate in Ontario stands at 20%. One in five young Torontonians cannot find a job,” said Tory as he challenged employers to hire at least 10% of those unemployed youth.
Tory welcomed the move of Starbucks Canada to hire 150 employees for Toronto’s neighbourhood improvement areas where they have more trouble networking and finding who to call about landing a job.
Tory said so far 19 new Toronto employers have pledged their commitment to PAYE.
“Give them that vital step to get a little bit of experience so they’re not trapped in that circle where you don’t have any experience, so we can’t hire you,” Tory said.
A report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in 2013 put Toronto’s total youth unemployment rate at 19.1%, the worst of any region in the province.
Federal government statistics say about 10% of Toronto’s population is Black. Studies including by the Canadian Journal of Public Health have linked high unemployment among young Black males with persistent violence and crime levels.
The city’s economic development committee will consider a report this week on an action plan to further bolster youth employment.
That report calls for working with Corporate Human Resources, Toronto Employment and Social Services to increase youth access to existing city positions, increasing the number of apprenticeship positions and expanding the range of employer and sector-specific work-based learning initiatives.