The CWA Canada Associate Member Steering Committee, which leads the CWA Canada Associate Member program, is voicing support for several recommendations suggested by the expert panel on youth employment. The panel’s report, titled Strategies for a New World of Work: 13 ways to modernize youth employment in Canada, was released on June 1, 2017.
Among the recommendations, the CWA Canada Associate Members Steering Committee particularly welcomed the panel’s recommendations to encourage mentorship between young people and leaders outside their network. Creating meaningful mentorship opportunities for Canada’s youth has been a long-standing mandate of the CWA Canada Associate Members program, in which media students or young media workers are matched for one-on-one meetings with professionals in their field, to discuss career options, advice, and skill development. This program has often lead to the development of meaningful and supportive relationships between those in positions to share job opportunities and Canada’s aspiring media workers. The creation of a government-led mentor-matching initiative, as recommended by the panel, can likely benefit young workers in various professions across Canada.
We also support the panel’s recommendations to update Canada’s labour standards: in particular, we recognize the need to amend the Canada Labour Code Part III to increase job standards, rights and security for non-standard positions. This will enable young workers, in particular, to receive the same respect that full-time employees should receive, and to promote employer and worker respect for labour rights and health and safety conditions via education, particularly in high schools and beyond. The world of work that young people enter is transforming rapidly, and the Canada Labour Code should be altered to reflect the evolving nature of work in Canada, which often includes precarious, contract, and involuntary part-time work.
We vehemently support the panel’s recommendation to eliminate unpaid internships outside of academic programs, though we additionally believe that unpaid internships which are part of an academic or post-secondary program should also be eliminated. The report’s authors on the expert panel noted they heard reports of young people missing out on job opportunities early in their career because they cannot afford to work for free as unpaid interns. Unfortunately, unpaid internships are all-too-prevalent in the Canadian media industry, where post-secondary students must often take on unpaid work with media companies for school credit, resulting in students paying tuition fees in addition to working for free. This is not sustainable.
As noted by the panel, Canada’s youth accounts for 6.8 million people between the ages of 15 and 29, many of whom are struggling to find stable, quality work in Canada’s labour market. The CWA Canada Associate Members Steering Committee understands it is integral that the Government of Canada heed these recommendations of the expert panel on youth employment to ensure that young Canadians who want to work can access sustainable and quality jobs, especially within the Canadian media industry. We call for the immediate support of these select recommendations by the panel, and will continue to research how the panel’s other recommendations will impact Canadian youth and CWA Canada Associate Members.
CWA Canada Associate Members account for over 1,000 students, young, emerging and precarious media workers across the country. Through their free membership, Associate Members can access union supports including invitations to networking events and media mixers, training and online educational webinars, mentorship with professionals working in their field, and more. The program is funded by CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union which supports over 6,000 members, including journalists and media workers, at publications across Canada.