Youth Employment – TRC #92

November 2016

In 2015 the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC) undertook a review and renewal of its Framework for Action. The outcome of that work was an updated Framework for Action: 2015-2020 based on ten strongly interconnected, poverty reduction focused aspirations for our city.

As a first step in operationalizing the renewed Framework, Council members proposed the Independence through Income aspiration as a priority area of focus. This decision was based on the thinking that this aspiration – which is focused on sufficient income – had the highest potential for reducing poverty in our communities.

In fall of 2015, WPRC members and staff carried out extensive consultations across various community sectors, to explore and discuss the ‘Independence through Income’ aspiration as a priority for action. We asked about its relevancy from a community and business perspective, the potential for WPRC to address it, and if there were certain areas or population groups where efforts should be focused?

The WPRC then undertook literature and demographics reviews, overlaid with the consultation feedback, Collective Impact principles, and the mandate of WPRC, as well as the recently released 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

As a result of the community consultations and research, in January of 2016 WPRC membership approved a Steering Committee recommendation to focus the Council’s work on youth employment through an Indigenous lens.

With this focus in place, the Council moved to consult more specifically with groups and individuals with a stake in Indigenous youth employment.

The purpose of this “deeper dive” consultation was to find out who was doing what, what was working well, where the gaps were, and where the potential was for WPRC, within its mandate, to play a role in increasing opportunities for appealing, rewarding and sustainable employment for Indigenous youth.

We quickly discovered that there are a number of community organizations with expertise in training and preparing Indigenous youth for the work force, that there are employers in the private sector with a strong interest in providing employment opportunities and that in many cases there is a gap or lack of connection between the two sectors. We also heard about the many barriers that get in the way of employment for Indigenous young people, both personal barriers and barriers within mainstream workplaces.

Based on this, in the fall of 2016 WPRC developed an action plan called ‘TRC#92: Youth Employment’. This plan incorporates three strategies:

1. Raise Awareness – Create new opportunities employers, human resource professionals and the general public to learn about issues related to successful Indigenous youth employment.

2. Promote and Support Workplace Education – Build capacity in identified workplaces for intercultural safety in the workplace and adaptive human resource practices.

3. New Connections for Employment – Working with existing trainers, link a small cohort of Indigenous youth with employment opportunities in designated private sector work places. Build on successes in future by scaling up, out and deep.

This action plan is evolving as new information and perspectives are integrated and our collective thinking and understanding evolves. Watch this page and our WPRC social media feeds for ongoing updates on this work.

For further information or to have a conversation regarding WPRC’s work on TRC#92: Youth Employment please contact Erika Wiebe at ewiebe@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.