National Youth Employment Sector Town Halls – Expanding the need for Youth Mentoring

During June 15-19th, 2020, employment service providers (ESP) from across Canada were convened by the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity for the National Youth Employment Sector Town Halls. The focus was adjusting to the impacts of COVID-19 and how to support reopening the economy. 

As MENTOR Canada, we supported and participated as panelists and shared feedback about how mentoring supports are an essential component to help young people fulfil their potential. We know that many in the youth serving sector are struggling to maintain operating funding and deliver services in the new normal, while at the same time youth unemployment is at a high, there are more reported mental health challenges related to COVID-19, isolation, school closures, and lockdown. Like society, mentoring service providers are adapting to deliver mentoring.  

The National Youth Employment Town Halls executive summary offers a few key reflections on COVID-19 and the need for the employment sector. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for the employment sector to change the way it delivered supports to youth, highlighting and exacerbating some of the gaps that have long existed. 

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Of the Emergent themes, they highlighted two that were of interest to mentoring service providers.

1. Recognize the impact on mental heath for job seekers and practitioners and provide a broader range of supports. 

  • ESPs shared that incidence of mental health problems and anxiety have increased during the pandemic and that they find social isolation has worsened these states for their youth clients (and even themselves).  
  • Mentoring can be a protective factor against mental health challenges and contribute to building persistence and resilience. Mentoring – both being mentored and by being a mentor—can help break up social isolation and help all of us remember that we all have something to teach and we all have something to learn. There are many positive benefits for both the mentor and a mentee from a quality mentoring relationship, and helping youth map and grow their webs of support, can help build social capital and open the door to new possibilities, fields, and interests. 

mental health pie chart

2. Expand education and skills training options and specific programs for youth as they retrain and adapt for an altered workplace. 

  • ESPs shared concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on youth motivation and recruitment as a result of economic contraction and reduced employment opportunities. Expanding education and skills training opportunities through institutions and programing is a way to induce youth to re-enter the labour force in the future as the economy recovers. 

  • We know that access to a mentoring relationship can help broaden the awareness and possibilities for a young person who may be unaware of new career pathways or possibilities. Having a mentor to help prompt exploration of new interests, opportunities, and possibilities. Exploring opportunities and helping youth make connections to other potential mentors in a new field can have a tremendous impact and help inform decision making. Helping them better understand and connect to adults currently employed in the new workspace, can help both manage expectations and generate excitement about new possibilities. 

youth challenges

To access employment opportunities in the post-pandemic economy, we understand Canadian youth will have an even greater need to connect with mentors who can help them engage with prospective employers and the Canadian labour market. Through quality mentoring opportunities, we are helping youth develop an understanding of the practical job skills required to meet labour market demands and learn how to access opportunities aligned to their academic, career and life goals. We are leveraging virtual platforms and our mentoring network to support mental health and other initiatives for children and youth living in vulnerable situations. 

We thank CCYP for their leadership in starting these conversations for the employment sector. Through our virtual Power of Mentoring events with corporate leaders across Canada over the last 8 months we have seen firsthand the impact that a mentoring experience can provide in igniting new connections. 

Now more than ever, we must #keepmentoring.  We need adults to step up as mentors for our young people. Visit becomeamentor.ca to learn more about a mentoring experience that is right for you. If you are interested in learning more about mentoring, take our free one-hour Online Mentor Orientation.  

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