Reconciling Toronto’s Youth Skills Gap


Young people in Toronto need access to secure, meaningful and fair employment. Youth people between 15 and 24 experience a transition from high school to post-secondary education. This unique period usually sees youth move from full-time education to part-time work, and then into labor market on a full-time basis. In Toronto between 2008 and 2016, the labour market has featured fewer part-time and full-time jobs for young people. According to a 2018 labour force report, while full-time employment in the city has increased by 6.4% since 2008, city residents aged 55 and older accounted for the growth in this area, with full-time employment for young people aged 15-24 declining by 11.3%. Residents aged 55 and older also accounted for the increase in part-time employment, with fewer young people working part-time. In either case, there has been an increase in part-time, precarious labor across all age-groups. Young people who are graduating from post-secondary institutions face challenges turning educational qualifications into labor market outcomes, while youth unable to complete secondary education are struggling to meet the qualification demands of employers. This has put Toronto at the bottom of the charts, in comparison to other Canadian cities, as the city with the highest youth unemployment rate, lowest change in employment rate year-over-year, and lowest number of jobs created, per capita

TYC’s position

The Toronto Youth Cabinet recognizes the potential and importance of our city’s youth. We are in support of a system in which young people can use their talents and skills to earn a living. We believe all youth in Toronto should have the opportunity to seek skill and educational development, with a projected smooth transition into the workforce, or be gainfully employed in a career of their choosing, not being subjected to working in a capacity of little personal interest and no room for professional development.

In collaboration with private sector employers, the City of Toronto has an opportunity to reconcile the youth skill gap by ensuring that labour market needs are communicated to young people. The onus of preparing the workforce of the future rests on the government of the day, educational institutions and the local business community, as they are stakeholders in the future of the Toronto’s youth.

With modern technology, young people are now able to acquire skills for the job market through non-traditional means such as coding bootcamps and industry-related vocational classes. According to our research, the most in-demand technical skills range from knowledge and experience with software applications to writing code. Considering that these skills can now be learned and mastered outside of the traditional college or university programs, it is necessary for the public and private sectors to reassess the experience they demand for employment.  

The Toronto Youth Cabinet calls on the City Hall to:

  • Create a work-study transition program for high-school, college and university students who want a future in public service so they can get acquainted with City Hall before graduating, and be able to develop some of the qualifications that employment at the City might require, considering the public administration sector in Toronto has seen a 8.3% decline in full and part-time employed city residents between 2008 and 2016

  • Liaise with Toronto and Ontario educational institutions to implement transitional programs that prepare students for the move from school to work. Specifically, focusing on students in non-specialized programs to reconcile the gap between their studies and an employer demands.

 As reported by the Toronto Star, lack of employment opportunities for youth can, and has led to migration away from the city, and province. With young people unable to find fair employment in Toronto, evidence indicates that a move away from the province has been a recurring trend. It has already led to young people's’ growing frustration with the labor market. Without a support system, and little promise for the future, Toronto risks losing talent to other Canadian cities and provinces. It also risks losing potential value from young people who might transition from a state of potential benefit to the city, to potential strains on our society and the economy. On a global scale, Deloitte predicts that by 2030, more than half of the two billion young people worldwide, will not have the skills or qualifications needed to participate in the workforce. Therefore, it is crucial that relevant stakeholders in the future of young people, such as the City of Toronto, ensure necessary steps are taken to improve the conditions of employment for youth.