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Aiming to lower youth unemployment

Scott Verhoeve and Charlene Hofbauer, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board, who are monitoring employment trends.[Sean Heeger / The Observer]

The youth unemployment rate continues to be the highest of all age groups in Waterloo Region.

Numbers recently released by Statistics Canada show the unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 24 stands at 9.1 per cent. This is almost double the current 4.6 per cent rate for those 25 and older.

To combat this number, local groups have partnered to create ‘How the Labour Market Works,’ a marketing campaign aimed at giving youth and their family insight into the job market.

 “We wanted to show some pathways. … We wanted to show that there are many different ways and many different opportunities to get you where you think you want to go,” said Charlene Hofbauer, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board.

She says not everyone gets to the job they want the same way and seeing the examples in the campaign can help youth explore all options available to them in the job market.

The initiative is a marketing campaign featuring six different youth who want to take varying career paths. The goal is to show those looking to enter the job market that there are many ways to get the job they want.

Campaign posters will hang in various locations which support youth. Graphics will also be used on social media to highlight partners and events which can assist those who may be leaning towards a certain career.

One thing Hofbauer wants youth to understand from the campaign is they don’t need to begin exploring the job market after they’re done school. They can begin while they’re still in the midst of their education.

She said she hopes the campaign will assist those still in school, so they have an idea of what a career pathway may look like before they graduate.

Scott Verhoeve, executive director with the Business and Education Partnership of Waterloo Region, worked alongside Hofbauer to create the campaign.

One of the things his organization does is run programs in local high schools to explore career options and give opportunities for students to meet with people who can connect them with jobs.

He says a goal behind the campaign is to help youth connect the dots and bring partners together so paths can become clearer for those looking for work.

Hofbauer and Verhoeve do hope to expand the program in the future, but currently they believe the campaign in its current form does speak to many youth.

In this situation we tried to categorize six major but very different paths, but what they have in common is the understanding that there is a process so students can relate, said Verhoeve.

He says people will hit a bump in the road while searching for their dream job and the posters should make youth aware that this can happen and avoid them from being discouraged.

One thing Hofbauer hopes this campaign highlights is there is a multitude of ways to travel your career path.

“There’s a lot of ways to get to your destination and all you have to do is look for the opportunities,” said Hofbauer.

How the Labour Market Works has already begun rolling out to some partner organizations in the area.

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