The Co-operators announce a CAD 2 million community fund to support the employability of marginalised youth in the wake of pandemic

16 November 2020


ICMIF member The Co-operators (Canada) have launched Pathways to Employability (P2E), a CAD 2 million Co-operators Community Funds initiative dedicated to supporting the employability of marginalised Canadian youth who have lost jobs or educational opportunities due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We know that young Canadians have been significantly impacted by COVID-related job losses and educational disruption, primarily due to impacts of the economic shutdown of schools and many of the sectors that primarily employ youth. Marginalised youth have been especially hard hit and some face additional challenges to employability that make them particularly vulnerable to these unprecedented unemployment levels,” explains Rob Wesseling, President and CEO, The Co-operators. “The goal of The Co-operators Pathways to Employability Initiative is to create a brighter, more sustainable future for youth and small businesses by taking an innovative approach to developing solutions to respond to the urgent unmet needs created by the pandemic.”

In the early months of COVID-19 shutdowns, 43% of working Canadian youth lost their jobs or had work hours reduced, according to an April 2020 Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. This new P2E initiative will connect these youth to quality opportunities with small businesses looking to hire, train and retain youth, including co-operatives, non-profits and social enterprises.

The pandemic had a dire impact on opportunities for youth in our communities and put a strain on the capabilities of small businesses. P2E is committed to connecting these employers to marginalised Canadian youth who will receive life skills, employment and psychosocial supports along their path to employability.

Through the P2E initiative, The Co-operators is proud to be a founding partner of the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity‘s (CCYP) #ImpactCOVID: Road to Recovery Project; a two-phase, youth-led employability program. Youth will co-design a pandemic economic recovery plan with small businesses and then evaluate the plan through employment and participation in community programs across Canada. #ImpactCOVID will help marginalised youth move into higher quality, sustainable, and secure jobs, and gain valuable and impactful work experience with small businesses, including co–ops, non-profits and social enterprises. In return, these organisations will build capacity to hire, train and retain youth.

“Collaborative partnerships have been critical for us in order to design rapid-response approaches to youth workforce development during this current economic crisis,” says Gladys Ahovi, Executive Lead, Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity. “Our commitment to co-creating opportunities for youth and collaborating with sectors across the country closely mirrors the co-operative mindset of resilience and community well-being.”

The Co-operators endorses all 17 of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have aligned its 2030 Enterprise Long-term Goals to nine SDGs on which it has the greatest expertise and can make the most meaningful impact. In this way, it is linked with a collective global effort to protect the environmental, social and financial well-being of current and future generations. The P2E Initiative aligns to UN SDG #8: Decent work and economic growth.

The Co-operators Community Funds assists organisations focused on supporting marginalised youth and individuals with mental health challenges gain employability skills to become more self-reliant. In 2019, a total of CAD 582,250 was granted through the funds to 28 organisations focused on supporting marginalised individuals on their path toward employability.

For more information on Co-operators Community Funds: Pathways to Employability (P2E) Initiative and the impact made through partnerships, click here.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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