Youth Education and Employment Strategies
The Youth Education and Employment Strategies activities (YEES) will pivot around two major thematic questions that will help us answer our third research question:
"What are the pathways to successful improvement in economic status (such as improvements in pathways to employment, education, or other social capital)? How might these pathways be utilized within the Jane-Finch community in order to generate greater economic opportunities for youth?"
Specific research questions that the Working Group is focusing on include:
- What are the diverse pathways of urban youth from high school into regular participation in the labour market?
- What are the pathways to improvement in economic status (such as improvements in pathways to employment, education, or other social capital)?
- How might these pathways be utilized within the Jane-Finch community in order to generate greater economic opportunities for youth?
- What are youth's perception of the barriers and opportunities to a labour market attachment and integration?
- What is the impact of geographical location on youth employability and how do youth internalize their location in terms of what is accessible to them?
Youth experiences in finding gainful employment and education are two of the key determinants associated with youth risks and social exclusion (Trudel, 2000). The generally low level of educational attainment by youth in the Jane-Finch community (despite its proximity to York University) as well as the pervasive unemployment facing youth are key to why Jane-Finch is identified as an "at-risk" neighbourhood (Strong Neighbourhoods, 2004).
While the area's average unemployment rates appears equivalent to the CMA rates - with 15.1% of youth unemployed in Jane-Finch and 15.2% for Toronto CMA - among various local census tracts however, youth unemployment figures vary considerably, including one of the highest rates in the city in the Tobermory and Finch area (34.5%). During the proposal development phase, youth emphasized the importance of making sure that there are employment opportunities for youth on the project to enable them build skills. ACT's Youth Research Internship Program responds to this suggestion.
ACT will seek other sources of funding so we can pilot YEES strategies with our community partners.
Key Research Activities
Focus Groups: There will be four two-hour focus groups with approximately 8-10 youth participants between the ages of 16-26 who live in the Jane-Finch community. The primary purpose of these focus groups is to clarify the items on the semi-structured interview guide for the one-to-one interviews with youth.
Youth Interviews: 50 youth - aged 16-26 who live in the Jane-Finch community - will be interviewed. The youth will include mixed-gender youth from a diversity of ethno-cultural and socio-demographic backgrounds. Youth will be pre-screened to ensure that there is at least 12 youth from each of the following four categories and that the sample is diverse:
1) Youth who are actively seeking employment
2) Youth who have found work but are feeling frustrated
3) Youth who are not in school and not seeking employment
4) Youth who are employed and satisfied with their positions.
Employer Interviews: Approximately 25 employers, both actual and potential, of youth in the Jane-Finch community will be interviewed to understand their perspectives around youth employability. Employers will be identified by snowball, purposive sampling.
Working Group Members
Marilyn Eisenstat (PEACH)
John Graham, University of Calgary
Working Group Members:
Kizzy Bedeau, Marty Brent, Gervan Fearon, Wilburn Hayden, Deborah Jones, Leolyn Hendricks, Lavinia Lamenza, Laura Metcalfe, Scott Moore, Michelle Smith