What are Opportunity Youth?
The Calgary Employer Forum is an initiative to increase employment for Calgary’s Opportunity Youth aged 18-29. We want to help employers to hire and retain youth, who have challenges getting into the workforce. But what are Opportunity Youth?
Traditionally, this group of youth were known as NEET youth. NEET refers to young adults that are Not in Education, Employment or Training. This group of youth was also seen as disconnected, with barriers or experiencing a failure to launch. Opportunity Youth may not have figured out the rest of their lives yet; that’s where the opportunity comes in!
It can be really challenging for youth to land their first job, especially if they don’t have good connections. Most people find their jobs through people they know, and this includes youth too. Often Opportunity Youth have not made a lot of connections, and they don’t have them through their family and friends either. There are many factors that contribute to this:
- Poverty which results in a lack of transportation, no work clothes, no internet or phone
- Exiting homelessness
- Disability such as a mental illness, or a learning disability
- Previous child abuse
- Indigenous youth, whether urban or from their home community
- Racialized youth including newcomers and refugees
- Past addiction
- Not finished high school
- Previous criminal history
Some youth experience several of these circumstances, which makes it hard for them to participate in our labour force and community. Employers who hire Opportunity Youth will find loyal, hardworking employees. There may be some challenges hiring these youth, but that’s why we are here.
The Calgary Employer Forum aims to offer resources to employers to recruit, hire and retain Opportunity Youth. We will suggest best practices, provide education and share practical tips. Once given a chance, Opportunity Youth will often shine, they just need someone to believe in them.