TORONTO – LIVING – With youth unemployment rates at more than double the national averagei, 16-24 year-old Canadians are facing a national crisis and those who struggle with additional barriers are even more at-risk of remaining not just unemployed but unemployable.
This cross Canada issue is one that will take, in many cases public / private partnerships in order to solve. For youth that has been an effort that has been tried in Thunder Bay with a pilot project youth centre that the City of Thunder Bay is working toward winding down.
In other cities, public / private efforts are taking different directions. In Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver partnered with Starbucks Canada a new program is starting. Starbucks Canada announced it is taking steps to help Canada’s most disadvantaged youth get the skills and training they need to build better futures with the expansion of the Starbucks Canada work-placement and barista training program.
“The goal of our youth employment program is to give vulnerable young people a fair chance at securing meaningful jobs,” says Wood’s Homes Director Dean Soenen. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to work with Starbucks Canada in meeting this goal together. Wood’s Homes believes that youth at risk of living on the street due to a variety of challenges, deserve opportunities to build better life and job skills. We thank Starbucks Canada for appreciating the importance of community support – joining in our commitment to serve the children, adolescents and families in our community.”
Together with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) in Vancouver; Wood’s Homes in Calgary; and Yonge Street Mission (YSM) in Toronto, Starbucks Canada will support youth employment programs in each city, which combine in-class core life skills and employability training with real-life on-the-job work placement experience.
The company will invest $840,000 over the next three years to drive this program.
In its first year, Starbucks will support 134 barriered youth – those who may be homeless, out of foster care or recovering from addiction; may have little or no high school education, may be unable to afford the rising costs of education; or may suffer from mental illness -with in-store work-placements, in the hopes that upon graduation, these young people will either find jobs or go back to school to further their education.
“For thousands of young Canadians, June marks a time for celebration as students plan for graduation ceremonies and prepare for their future careers. But for many of Canada’s most at-risk and disadvantaged youth, there is no graduation, no future planning and no opportunity for a career,” says Luisa Girotto, director, public affairs and community, Starbucks Canada. “Together with three incredible organizations, we’re giving the gift of hope to youth who have struggled with difficult upbringings: hope to get off the edge of the streets and hope for a brighter future.”
Over the last 27 years, Starbucks Canada has been hiring and developing Canadian young people, with youth representing more than 60 per cent of the company’s partner (employee) base. Since 2009, Starbucks Canada, through the Starbucks Foundation, has awarded more than $794,000 Starbucks Youth Leadership grants to youth organizations that equip and engage young in business savvy, social conscience and collaborative communication.
Today’s announcement builds on Starbucks Canada’s existing, decade-long work placement relationship with PCRS and the Baristas program. The Baristas program is a key component of the PCRS Youth Employment service, and offers life skills and employability workshops in addition to in-store training. Over the last 10 years, more than 350 youth have graduated from the Baristas program in lower mainland B.C. – more than 80 per cent of whom have either successfully gone back to school or have found employment, some hired on by Starbucks permanently.
“Over the past decade, our relationship with Starbucks has been really valuable to the youth we serve,” says Ingrid Kastens, Executive Director of Pacific Community Resources Society. “As such, we are thrilled to expand this relationship. Our work-placement relationship with Starbucks Canada supports youth in overcoming many challenges while they gain a meaningful work experience with a great employer. Starbucks staff have been incredibly supportive of young people, welcoming them into their stores and assisting them as they transition to successful employment and contributing citizens.”
Beginning late summer, Starbucks will expand its current work placement program with PCRS to include Wood’s Homes in Calgary and The Yonge Street Mission in Toronto. Wood’s Homes, a large not‐for‐profit Children’s Mental Health Centre in Calgary, will offer paid Starbucks work-placement to youth enrolled in its Culinary Arts program, which prepares at-risk or homeless youth for employment in the culinary field. The Yonge Street Mission, a community service agency serving thousands of Toronto’s poor and vulnerable since 1896, will offer paid Starbucks work-placements to street involved and homeless youth through its Employment Services’ Connecting Youth to Work program.
Gail Meats, Director of Employment Services at The Yonge Street Mission, says, “The demand from our youth to access work-placements far exceeds space. This collaboration with Starbucks Canada will help break down the barriers for street involved youth to gain employability skills and invaluable work experience that will prepare them for future employment and life success.”