Centre for Employment Innovation’s Key Learnings (2017 – 2022)

Supporting Young Individuals into Employment

Supporting Young Individuals into Employment

It is essential for employers to understand the benefits and impacts of having engaged young people in the workforce. Employers need to be intentional with their HR practices, talent development processes, and equitable hiring practices. Young and engaged employees bring new perspectives and knowledge to the workplace. They can also support an employer’s ability to challenge institutional assumptions. 

Supportive and Welcoming Workplaces for Young Employees
What are the characteristics and values of a supportive workplace for young employees?
  • Opportunities for more responsibility (to lead/practice)  
  • Affirms Value of Young Employee 
  • Mutual Intergenerational Collaboration 
  • Flexible and Responsive Management  
  • Opportunities for Professional and Personal Development  
  • Engaging in Open Dialogue 
  • Having a Welcoming and Supportive Workplace Culture  
  • Intentionality (e.g., providing intentional feedback) 
  • Cross-cultural competency  
  • Ability to make mistakes
                    What are the benefits of having engaged young people in the workforce?
                    • Young employees bring creativity and innovation to the workplace 
                    • Engaged employees serve as role models for other young leaders 
                    • Engaged young people bring new and contagious energy   
                    • Young employees can bring various approaches such as “systems thinking” to the workplace 
                    • Engaged young employees are driven by purpose and impact than simply financial rewards 
                    • Hiring engaged staff promotes and supports organizational learning 
                    • Young employees can support an employer’s ability to challenge institutional assumptions 
                    • Young and engaged employees bring new perspectives and knowledge to the workplace
                    • Engaged employees are more aware of current societal issues, practices, and values.  
                        What are some challenges that young professionals face as they transition into the workforce?
                        • Being unprepared to enter the workforce as they may not have the necessary skills that employers are looking for.  
                        • Difficulty in finding employment, specifically employment in their field.
                        • Due to COVID-19, many professionals had to transition into the workforce virtually which has impacted their ability to connect with their colleagues. 
                        • The need to increase their self-confidence
                        • The need to navigate the demands, expectations, and unwritten assumptions of the new workplace.
                        • The desire to gain professional experience and new skills
                          How can employers foster a supportive and welcoming workplace?
                          • It is essential for employers to understand the benefits and impacts of having engaged young people in the workforce. Some questions employers can ask themselves are: 
                            • Why is it necessary for us to engage with youth?  
                            • How will the organization benefit from youth engagement?
                            • What are some challenges/barriers for our organization to overcome before we welcome youth into the workplace? 
                          • Youth engagement must be a full process that integrates youth participation into all aspects of the organization or processes that recognizes youth agency. 
                          • Employers need to be intentional with their HR practices, talent development processes, and equitable hiring practices. 
                          • Employers need to ensure that everyone in the organization understands the value of employing youth. 
                          • Employers should include youth in decision-making processes as well as program development Employers should have a good understanding of the unique needs of young employees so that they can develop intentional strategies that support young staff’s professional (e.g., technical skills) and personal development.  
                          • Employers need to have an honest and open conversation with newly hired young individuals about expectations, opportunities for more responsibility, as well as how their support is integral to the success of the organization. 
                          • Employers need to create spaces for mutual intergenerational collaboration as this will help engage young employees, affirm their value, and affirm their space within the larger workplace.  
                                  What are questions employers can ask themselves as they welcome young employees into the workplace?
                                  • Can we be flexible about how, where, and when young employees work? 
                                  • Can we create ways for employees to support, reward, and recognize one another (might include team-building and informal gatherings)?  
                                  • Can we support young employees in their passions, their personal development, or professional skill development?
                                  • Are our management styles flexible and responsive? 
                                  • Do the onboarding practices reflect the values and needs of young employees (relational, intentional, collaborative)? 
                                  • Are we able to support young professionals’ mental well-being as they navigate this new space? 
                                    How can employers support young professional’s mental well-being as they transition into the workforce?
                                    • Offer mentorship opportunities: 
                                      • Mentors can help young professionals develop some of the skills that they may be lacking through feedback and providing areas to improve. 
                                      • Engage in relational and mutual communication: 
                                        • Relational and mutual communication is defined as an ability to foster open, two-way communication along with positive and accessible connections where issues, supports and expectations could be discussed in a welcoming environment. 
                                        • Provide intentional and genuine feedback: 
                                          • Employers and supervisors must work to develop genuine relationships with their young employees to ensure that their feedback is received the way they intended it to be received 
                                          • Offer flexibility in the Workplace: 
                                            • This can look different for every organization, but some examples include remote work and flexible work hours. Workplace flexibility can improve psychological well-being and increase productivity within the workplace 
                                            • Set Realistic Expectations 
                                              • Ensure all Staff Receive Mental Health Education 
                                                • Employees need to have a good idea of what they can and cannot ask an employee in relation to their mental health, or mental illness as well as how they can direct youth to support services if they need them. 
                                                • It essential for staff members and employers to adopt a trauma-informed approach when engaging with young people. 
                                                • Prioritize diversity & Inclusion  
                                                  • Organizations should dedicate time, energy, and resources to engaging in cultural competency training opportunities. 

                                                  For information on how employers can support young people as they transition from post-secondary education to the workplace, check out this blog post by CEI’s Youth Engagement Specialist, Addy Strickland.  

                                                  What are some initiatives that support young employees transition into the workforce?
                                                  • Providing Mentorship Opportunities 
                                                  • Implementing Student Internship Opportunities 
                                                  Internships
                                                  What are Internships?
                                                  • An internship is a supervised work opportunity for young employees that offers meaningful, practical work related to a person’s field of study or career interest. An internship provides young employees with the opportunity to get some entry-level experience while allowing them to bring new ideas and energy into the workplace. 
                                                                    What are the benefits of student internship opportunities for young employees?
                                                                    • Positive impact on personal and professional development 
                                                                    • Increase in confidence and self-reliance 
                                                                    • Positive early work experience 
                                                                    • Networking opportunities 
                                                                    • Develop and refine skills 
                                                                      What are the benefits of student internship opportunities for the employer or organization?
                                                                      • Youth bringing diverse competencies and skills to the workplace 
                                                                      • Internships can be a beneficial investment for organizations as they can lower an organization’s attrition rate. 
                                                                      • Young employees can revitalize organizational practices and values  
                                                                      • Youth bring bright energies and attitudes to the table 
                                                                        How can organizations and employers support young employees during an internship?
                                                                        • Intentional & Supportive Supervision 
                                                                          • Implement an open-door policy as this helps student interns feel supported and that supervisors are available to answer quick questions. 
                                                                          • Supervisors should be approachable and aware of the power dynamics between them and interns.  
                                                                          • Supervisors need to create a safe, welcoming, and anxiety-reducing environment for interns 
                                                                          • Establish clear expectations with interns as this leads to efficient work and less confusion 
                                                                          • Establish regular check-ins with supervisors (e.g., weekly) 
                                                                          • Offer feedback throughout the internship as this adds structure to the internship and allows interns to feel affirmed that they’re doing the work correctly.   
                                                                          • Supervisors should practice reflective learning to further their instructional practices when introducing interns to new ideas and the new environment.  
                                                                        • Professional Treatment & Respect 
                                                                          • The job description must match the actual work that interns will engage in. 
                                                                          • The employment process for interns should align with that of other permanent staff 
                                                                          • Internship opportunities should have a focus on soft (transferable) skill development 
                                                                          • Interns should be provided with meaningful experiences and expectations. 
                                                                          • It is important to make sure that students have a ‘safe-to-fail’ environment where failure is not viewed as undesirable. 
                                                                          • Students should be given the opportunity to initiate their own projects as this allows them to do meaningful and substantial work.  
                                                                          • Supervisors must find the time and effort during the internship to help interns understand the impact of the work that happens within the organization and how it contributes to a larger ecosystem.  
                                                                          • Conscious and inclusive language should be adopted by organizations in both job descriptions as well as while supporting interns. 
                                                                        • Orientation Planning  
                                                                          • It is important to establish a general outline of an intern’s work plan prior to their arrival while keeping in mind that this plan will shift as interns should have some say in the work plan 
                                                                          • Supervisors should work with interns to personalize the work plan based on their skills and the areas they wish to strengthen.  
                                                                          • Workplans should include accessible documents and supportive readings that go beyond orientation. 
                                                                          • During the onboarding process, it’s essential for interns to understand the purpose of the work before diving head-first into the work. 
                                                                          • It is important to encourage students to have one-on-one conversations with staff early on so that they understand everyone’s role and how their work may intersect.
                                                                          • Time should be set aside for comprehensive and specified training in the areas of work that the Internet is most unfamiliar with (e.g., certain software programs) 
                                                                        • Peer Support 
                                                                          • Peer support between interns or other colleagues should be encouraged as this facilitates group learning.  
                                                                          • Interns should have the opportunity to cultivate strong work relationships with all staff through team meetings and group activities.  
                                                                          • Organizations should establish regular meetings or informal spaces where interns can share ideas and learn from one another. 
                                                                        • Flexible Work 
                                                                          • Employers should establish timelines and work plans that do not interfere with an intern’s academic or personal life. 
                                                                          • Employers should offer pay that is consistent with other interns as well as other benefits.  
                                                                          • Examples of flexible work include remote work and flexible work hours. 
                                                                                    Mentorships
                                                                                    What is Mentorship?
                                                                                    • Mentorship is a dynamic, two-way relationship between individuals which may have both social and professional aspects. This relationship is defined by varying levels of structure, formality, length, activity, investment, and goals. 
                                                                                    • It is defined as an arrangement where a person with experience, knowledge, and skills that enable them to be a good mentor (e.g., communication skills) agrees to enter a relationship with a person with less experience or knowledge in a given area. This assistance may be related to job tasks, career development, and/or larger psychosocial functions.  
                                                                                    Youth Mentorship

                                                                                    For information on Youth Mentorship, check out this link regarding the value of youth mentorship. 

                                                                                    For information on an approach to mentorship specifically designed for youth, please see this link on the Youth-Centered Mentorship Approach (Y-CMA).