When HR Professionals Complain They Can’t Find Black Youths, Is It Really A Black Youth Problem?

Candid picture of a business team collaborating. Filtered serie with light flares.

On Thursday, January 20, 2022, Black Human Resources Professionals of Canada (BlackHRPC) hosted a learning event themed Hiring Youth. The program which was an informative session and started at 12pm with introductions by the convener and founder of BlackHRPC, Tanya Sinclair.

The guest speaker, Stachen Frederick, the Executive Director at Frontlines Toronto, is an award-winning community leader known for her work in the Black community. Frontlines is non-profit community centre located in the Weston Road area of Toronto. The Centre supports children and youth between the ages of 6-29 years with a mission to address their pressing needs. Stachen Frederick introduced the audience to the new wage subsidy program to support youth and employers for employment. The government-funded program is called Future Employment Entrepreneurship Track: Supporting Youth and Businesses Find Their F.E.E.T.

Frederick, in her opening statement quoted a statistic sourced from Statistics Canada showing that in August – December 2020, “white youth had an average unemployment rate of 15.4%, while the unemployment rate for Black youth averaged 31.6%— twice as high.” The data further revealed that although Indigenous and other racialized communities also have high youth unemployment rates, the Black youth unemployment rate is of a major concern in Canada and to Frontlines hence, the creation of the FEET program. While challenges such as Covid-19 restrictions, interview no-shows, unrealistic expectations by young people and employers were identified as some of the reasons for black youth unemployment, the WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada speaker reiterated that these are typical HR problems and stated that employers must find ways to manoeuvre these challenges and offer quality employment opportunities to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour youths.

Frontlines, established in 1986, is a not-for-profit that “addresses the pressing needs of children and youth” and through the FEET program aims to connect young people (who undergo a 4-week employment skills training) with employers who may not have the time to deal with the hiring process and is a community partner of BlackHRPC.

The session was engaging as many participants had questions to ask at the end of the presentation. In one of the comments, a participant suggested that HR professionals must begin to look outside the stereotypical pool of talents where employers look and consciously extend employment opportunities to young black people who seemingly do not fit as that model employee.

A break-out session where participants got to further discuss the topic and network with each other concluded the program.

For more information about Frontlines and the FEET Program, click  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IxdFb0YevVO7ZBpzwxp4EXYjdfQ7YNYn/view?usp=sharing

Click here to see more events by BlackHRPC.

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