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Young Canadians feeling significantly less confident in job prospects due to COVID-19

Young women notably feeling more pressure to succeed, perceive they're not doing as well as their male peers
Yound canadian woman feeling low confidence on job prospects

An RBC Future Launch study of more than 1,800 Canadians aged 14-29 found that across every province and major city, youth are significantly less confident when it comes to their job prospects and how prepared they are for the future of work.

According to data collected, youth see interruptions to their education, the new realities brought on by social-distancing, and general feelings of anxiety and fear over COVID-19 are all having a negative effect on young peoples’ outlooks as they navigate their career paths. Young Canadians believe learning in a pandemic is not adequately preparing them for getting a job. Almost half of those currently studying say that they feel education during COVID-19 is doing a worse job of preparing them for employment.

There is also a stark divergence between how young women are feeling when compared to their male peers. Feelings of worry increase among young women who have had their job situation affected by COVID-19 – and worsened if they identify as a visible minority or as LGBTQ2S+.

According to a recent RBC Economics Report, Gen-Z women make up 2.5 per cent of the Canadian labour force, but account for 17 percent of the total decline in employment during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, this signals the beginning of a negatively-reinforcing cycle that ultimately contributes to the “she-cession“, when women’s unemployment is higher than men’s unemployment.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the lives of young people across our country. It’s not surprising that they are feeling less confident when it comes to getting the jobs they aspire to.”

Mark Beckles, Vice-President, Social Impact and Innovation, RBC

Key findings from the study include:

  • 7-in-10 (70%) young Canadians are learning remotely to some extent, with nearly 3-in-10 (28%) saying they are attending classes exclusively online. 45% say that the education they are receiving online during the pandemic is doing a worse job of preparing them for their desired career.
  • More than half of young working Canadians have faced severe job-interruptions (reduced hours, and termination). Relatedly, almost half (47%) of those working full-time are doing so from home or at least part-time.
  • While young Canadians recognize the value in networking (it is the third most sought-after career skill, following career opportunities and educational qualifications), they typically place it on-par with the importance of their mental health. Additionally, those with good mental health are more likely to be ready to network.
  • While the truism of youthful optimism arises in the data, Canadian youth indicate that their mental well-being is faring poorly in 2020. COVID-19 is top-of-mind for many and is a key driver of feelings of anxiety and concern. 51% of participants say the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health, 45% surveyed say the pandemic has negatively impacted their optimism for the future.


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