TORONTO, September 11, 2013 /CNW/ – The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to announce the release of Youth Employment: Re-imagining the link between learning and labour. Released today, Youth Employment outlines tangible steps the Government of Ontario and its 20 publicly funded universities should take in addition to the funds provided through the Youth Jobs Strategy to address the province’s historically high 16 per cent youth unemployment rate.

“Youth and recent graduates have significant concern about labour-market opportunities as Ontario continues to feel the effects of the 2008 recession,” said Amir Eftekarpour, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). “The proliferation of unpaid internships and a high provincial youth unemployment rate indicate that there is a pressing need for the government and universities to address these issues. A rise in unpaid work is symptomatic of many of the challenges youth face in attending post-secondary and successfully making the transition into the labour market.”

This submission explores four major approaches to addressing youth unemployment in Ontario including increasing access to university for disadvantaged youth, promoting and supporting work-integrated learning and student entrepreneurialism, and protecting students from unfair unpaid internships.

“Unpaid internships are a concern as many in Ontario aren’t providing students with the high-impact educational experiences they want or deserve,” continued Eftekarpour. “Students are calling on the Province to better enforce the Ontario Employment Standards Act to protect them from unfair unpaid work, while also including provisions that support those meaningful, unpaid positions tied to academic study. Furthermore, our recommendations on expanding work-integrated learning will allow students to gain the skills employers are looking for without resorting to unpaid work.”

Youth Employment calls upon the Province and institutions to increase work-integrated employment opportunities such as co-op placements, job-training and undergraduate research opportunities as a means of improving the job readiness of our graduates.

“Increasing access to post-secondary for students from underrepresented communities is also critical to addressing youth unemployment,” said Rylan Kinnon, Executive Director of OUSA. “Aboriginal Ontarians and Ontarians with disabilities post unemployment rates of 23.5 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, numbers that are certainly tied to these groups’ significantly lower university participation rates than the general population. Equitable long-term employment outcomes are only possible through equitable access to university.”

Students have also identified fostering entrepreneurialism at our universities and supporting student entrepreneurs as a strategy for boosting innovation and economic growth in Ontario.

“High youth unemployment is detrimental to the provincial economy and is a burden on all Ontarians,” said Kinnon. “OUSA believes that our recommendations represent a holistic, long-term strategy for improving the employment outcomes of today’s youth.”

To read Youth Employment: Re-imagining the link between learning and labour, click here.

About the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)

OUSA represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at eight member associations across Ontario.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Brandon Sloan, Director of Communications.

T: (416) 341-9948
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