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Fall Report Card: CivicAction and NPower Canada Take on Youth Unemployment

November 3, 2014, TORONTO – Today, with the support of its partner, CivicAction, NPower Canada welcomed its first cohort into the Technology Services Corps Canada program – an employer-driven program for aspiring IT professionals that includes free training, paid internships, job placement and mentorship for underserved youth in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). This is a program under CivicAction’s Escalator Initiative which launched in September to uncover employment opportunities for youth facing barriers.

“With 83,000 youth in the GTHA not in education, employment or training, youth unemployment is clearly a big problem that requires a big tent of players,” says Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction. “We are putting our arms around the problem with several programs and our work with NPower Canada is a great example of private sector stepping up and taking action.”

What makes NPower Canada’s Technology Services Corps different?

  • It is primarily funded by the private sector
  • The training is delivered and the paid internships offered by corporate partners
  • It has had proven results in the US with 80% of recent alumni being employed and/or in school
  • It targets a sector where there are jobs with two-thirds of Canadian CEOs reporting skills shortages in the tech sector and the need for 106,000 additional IT workers by 2016

Many corporate partners have put their name and resources behind this program including Accenture Canada, Cisco, TD Bank Group, and Virgin Mobile Canada. With Ryerson University generously providing a state-of-the-art classroom and office space, NPower Canada and CivicAction are also joined by ACCES Employment, the Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation and United Way Toronto.

“We have youth that need technical skills and jobs; and employers that need a trained, diverse workforce. Our program bridges the gap,” says Julia Blackburn, Executive Director, NPower Canada. “This is about the tech community coming together to put at-risk youth on a better career path.”

The first class of 31 students will receive 15 weeks of technical skills training including professional development and life skills coaching. Classes will include industry speakers and job shadowing to give students first-hand exposure to jobs in IT. Students who complete training will move into a 7-week paid internship followed by ongoing career coaching. Once alumni are hired, they are:

  • paired with an established IT professional to provide guidance, encouragement and contacts
  • offered continuing education opportunities to support career development
  • connected to ongoing networking opportunities with industry professionals

This week also marks Take Our Kids to Work Day on November 5th and CivicAction has joined Ten Thousand Coffees as their local partner to ensure all youth have access to a meaningful experience at a workplace visit. CivicAction’s work on youth unemployment tells us that many youth in the GTHA don’t have the network – a parent, relative, or friend – to take advantage of Take Our Kids to Work Day. During @10KCoffees Week in Toronto, CivicAction, Accenture, and many others will host a meet-up for all young people to get advice and gain access to conversations with established professionals. The first cohort of NPower Canada students will participate, making important connections in the IT sector.

As part of the larger Escalator Initiative, CivicAction has established a Youth Champions Council committed to meeting this challenge with creative, industry-driven solutions. Members include senior representatives from RBC, TD, BMO, Accenture Canada, Cisco, LinkedIn Canada, Virgin Mobile Canada, Target, H&M, UNIFOR, and Nestle Canada. These companies represent large employers and contributors to our economy. Council members also include community partners like NPower Canada, the Toronto Police Services and the United Way of Toronto and York Region. The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services is another important member of the Council.

“The Champions Council is an assembly of organizations deeply invested in effecting change around the issue of youth unemployment,” says Zabeen Hirji, Chief Human Resources Officer, RBC and Co-Chair of the Council. “We can only make a difference through true partnerships – between the private sector, government, community agencies and labour – and the Champions Council reflects this type of partnership.”

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Our thanks to CNW Group for sponsoring this announcement.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Sarah Harris, Director, Communications, CivicAction                    Julia Blackburn, Executive Director, NPower Canada                                                    
T (416) 309-4480 x 508     M (647) 267-4997                                  416-979-5000 ext. 3418  

Quick Facts:

  • CivicAction consulted with more than 800 employers, youth, community agencies and governments to understand youth unemployment and the barriers facing these youth.
  • According to Statistics Canada, the total unemployment rate in Toronto is over 20% for youth aged 15-24, but for black youth it is almost 30% and Aboriginal youth almost 25%.
  • Download a copy of the Escalator Report here and highlights here.

About CivicAction: For over 10 years, CivicAction has brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle some of our region’s toughest social, economic and environmental challenges. CivicAction’s newest initiative, Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers connects youth facing barriers with jobs through collaboration with a large tent of players – government, private sector and not-for profit. By engaging small and medium-sized businesses, bringing job opportunities into the open, closing the skills gap, and connecting youth with role models, CivicAction is making the job market more transparent and giving new networks to youth who currently don’t have them.


About NPower Canada: NPower Canada mobilizes the tech community and provides individuals, nonprofits, and schools access and opportunity to build tech skills and achieve their potential. The organization pursues its mission through two signature programs: 1) Technology Service Corps builds brighter futures for underserved young adults through free technology and professional skills training. 2) The Community Corps is a skills-based volunteering program connecting technology professionals with high impact nonprofits and innovative education partners. For more information, visit: