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Study finds employed youth consider practical work experience the most important factor for getting a job

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Facing sky-high inflation, fears of a recession, international conflict and a climate in crisis, youth in Canada are keeping hope alive during difficult times. The 2023 Youth Outlook Study, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with the RBC Foundation, surveyed 1,800 Canadian youth (age 14 to 29), shedding light on a range of topics, including access to services and overall mental health, as well as gaining new skills and work experience. As young people return to in-person learning and adapt to the hybrid workforce, the study shows a hopeful shift in feelings around the future of work.

A snapshot on how Canadian youth are feeling

Compared to 2022, more youth report always or usually feeling happy, motivated, and excited. Fewer young Canadians report feeling overwhelmed or isolated compared to last year, and satisfaction with life has increased significantly. However, these gains have not been even across all demographics. Young women and girls, persons living with a disability, and those in the LGBTQ2S+ community continue to struggle as others (young men in particular) have started to pull ahead, speaking to deeper structural challenges.

Take a deeper dive into other key findings from the study:


The Future of Work

Over half of young Canadians are excited about their professional future. Those who struggle more with mental or financial well-being are still worrying about what comes next, like finding the right job, lack of education or experience and the threat of automation.

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Practical work experience as the key to opportunity

Young Canadians feel they will weather looking economic storms by sticking with their current jobs. That said, if the right opportunity came along, four in ten would be interested in changing jobs. Regardless, youth already on their desired career path and those yet to reach their career goals agree: gaining job related experience in the workforce is the key to career progression and opportunities.

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Happiness at work

More young Canadians reported feeling happy with their jobs than in 2022, however this number still lags behind the 2020 survey. Almost one is eight say they are confident in their ability to manager the stress of a job and six in ten believe they can achieve a fulfilling career, emphasizing soft skills such as perseverance and agility as key to finding work.

As for feeling supported in their career, younger Canadians (age 14 to 17) are more likely to say they have a mentor to count on for advice which may speak to the access to guidance counsellors and built-in career supports in secondary school curriculum, but this is lower among those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ or have a disability.

Get matched with professionals and access to networking with your peers

Young people don’t have equal access to support, advice, or opportunities to discover and explore the realities of the jobs they’re considering. RBC Future Launch has partnered with Ten Thousand Coffees to increase access to, and deliver, networking support to post-secondary students through alumni connections from over 54 post-secondary institutions across Canada.


Skills to pay bills

Communication, problem solving, and critical thinking are still seen as most helpful skills for employability. But when thinking of what is missing from formal education, three in ten young people point to financial literacy. Of those who feel dissatisfied with their life, 44% correlated it directly to their financial status and well-being.

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RBC Future Launch by your side every step of the way

Overall, one quarter of youth say they need more support for mental well-being, followed by skill development and education, training, and professional development.

RBC Future Launch is the RBC Foundation’s commitment to helping young Canadians prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow. With over 500 partners across the country, we are working to provide free resources to help Canadian youth find meaningful work. Through skills development, career guidance, networking, and support for mental well-being – RBC Future Launch is by your side to help open doors to opportunity and unlock a brighter future. For more, explore our website today.