Youth Employment Series: Barriers to Employment for Youth

Home Youth EmploymentYouth Employment Series: Barriers to Employment for Youth

Earlier this month we published the first in a series of briefing notes on the impact of the pandemic on youth employment. Our first post provided high-level insight on youth in Niagara and demonstrated generally how employment has been impacted over the course of this past year.

In this briefing note, we focus on the experiences of local youth in Niagara with regard to employment opportunities and barriers to employment.

We also are highlighting stories of youth that have engaged in local training and/or education programs.

Current State of Youth Employment

Our first post in this series highlighted changes to youth employment, unemployment, and participation rates between 2019 and 2020. Here we provide a more detailed outline of youth employment indicators for 2018, 2019, 2020, and the most recent three months of 2021.

Table 1 – Labour Force Characteristics, St. Catharines-Niagara Census Metropolitan Area, Youth Age 15-24

Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0385-01  Labour force characteristics, annual; Table 14-10-0378-01  Labour force characteristics, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality

Barriers to Employment

Barriers to employment can span multiple factors. The following figure highlights several significant barriers to employment youth experienced over the past year. It is important to note that these barriers were likely exacerbated by the pandemic, and tend to be felt more acutely by some youth cohorts (e.g., low-income youth, marginalized youth, etc.)

Figure 2 – National and local work on barriers to employment for youth

Canadian Heritage (2021). Canada’s first state of youth report.
YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada (August 2021). Preventing a lockdown generation: A plan to support Canada’s youth in post-pandemic recovery.
Civiconnect (October 2021). Impacts of COVID-19 on youth in Niagara: A community needs assessment
NWPB Pandemic Impacts Survey, Summer 2021

Local Program Spotlight

One local program seeking to address barriers to employment is the Youth Skills Studio[1], developed through a partnership between Civiconnect and the Town of Lincoln.  The key to this training is providing their employees with in-house skills development alongside work-integrated learning opportunities with local employers to develop technical skills and interpersonal skills.

This program helps to address some barriers to employment for youth including career development opportunities, providing work experience, connections to entry-level work, and increasing professional networks. In our next post, we will share some of the early successes already seen through the Youth Skills Studio program.

Stay tuned for our next updates and follow along in our blog as we spotlight more training success stories. If you are interested in monthly updates for local youth employment, feel free to check out our interactive Youth Employment Dashboard.

Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Please reach out to Vivian Kinnaird ( or Thalia Semplonius (

[1] This project is funded through a Skills Development Fund and the Information Technology Communications Council.

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