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Young Canadians feeling significantly less confident in job prospects due to COVID-19:RBC Future Launch 2020 Youth Outlook

Young women notably feeling more pressure to succeed, perceive they’re not doing as well as their male peers

TORONTO, March 5, 2021 - 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 by the inaugural RBC Future Launch Youth Outlook study, 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 per cent 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,” said Mark Beckles, Vice-President, Social Impact and Innovation, RBC. “RBC Future Launch is our commitment to empowering young people to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. We are working with our extensive partner network to find new ways to reach young people and ensure they have the supports they need to manage and thrive right now, so they are ready to find work and feel more confident as they establish themselves on their career path.”

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.

RBC Future Launch is a decade-long, $500 million commitment to empowering Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. RBC is committed to acting as a catalyst for change, bringing government, educators, public sector and not-for-profits together to co-create solutions to help young people better prepare for the future of the work through practical work experience, skills development, networking and access to mental well-being supports and services. In 2020, we committed to investing $50 million from now to 2025 through RBC Future Launch to create meaningful and transformative pathways to prosperity for up to 25,000 BIPOC youth with investments in areas such as skills development and mentoring.

In response to COVID-19, we pivoted to reach young people virtually through RBC Future Launch at Home and the RBC Future Launch Future Ready Summit.

Study Methodology
A sample of n=1800 young Canadians (aged 14-29 years) was collected through the Ipsos online I-Say panel. For those under 18 years of age, permission from a parent/guardian was required before they could participate in the study.

Interviews were completed in both English and French between November 4 and November 17, 2020.

Weighting was employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the young adult population according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all young Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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For more information, please contact:
Elynn Wareham, Corporate Communications, RBC, 647-533-8152