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What is a “young” worker?

Introduction

If you are between the ages of 15 to 30 you may qualify as a young worker for a number of employment programs in British Columbia

There are many definitions of a young worker.

Statistics Canada defines a young worker as a person between 15 and 24 years of age. A young worker can also be defined as a person without much work experience.

Note: In BC, if you are between 12 and 15 years of age you cannot work without written consent of a parent or legal guardian. You must be supervised at all times by a person 19 years of age or older.

Helpful Books

The Vancouver Public Library has a number of books on looking for work for younger adults. The titles below are just some examples:

Career Exploration and Job Search

Resumes and Cover Letters

Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is a good way to meet people who might help you get a job in the future. It shows potential employers that you have the initiative to learn new things.

Getting work experience can be difficult for young workers. You need experience to get a job, but cannot get a job without experience.

One way to get work experience is by volunteering. As a volunteer you offer your skills and time to not-for-profit or charity organisations without payment in return.

Search the sites below to find local volunteer opportunities:

Note: It is not legal for “for-profit” businesses to offer volunteer positions. You must be paid at least minimum wage ($10.25/hr) for any work done at for-profit businesses.

For more ideas on how to get work experience see:

Networking

Networking is still one of the best ways to find employment, regardless of age. If you have been in Canada for a few years, you may already have a network of family and friends who can help you with your job search.

Another option is to grow your network by joining a professional association or using social media to connect with like-minded professionals.

For more information see:

  • MeetUp is the world’s largest network of local groups. Many of these groups are based on professional networks. You can search the Vancouver site for groups with similar career interests.

Job Boards for Young Workers

  • Job Bank
    Do an advanced search to look for “Student and Youth jobs”.
  • WorkBC
    A range of jobs in BC.

Employment Programs for Young Workers

  • SUCCESS – Youth Services Programs
    Promotes the personal growth and career development of young people through a wide variety of programs ranging from the youth volunteer group, to employment, entrepreneurial development and leadership training
  • BladeRunners
    At-risk youth from 15 to 30 can apply to get training for entry to the workforce.
  • ISS BC – Youth in Tech
    For immigrant or refugee youths 18-24, this program includes training in web development, digital marketing/design, or information and communications technology, paid work experience, and more
  • Get Youth Working
    Offers Employment Counselling, Job Entry Skills, Certificate Training, Paid Work Experience, Mentoring and Post Job Placement Support to eligible youth 18-24 years of age

Tip: Make sure to check the requirements for young worker programs. Often government-funded programs have special requirements such as:

  • place of residence
  • whether or not you’ve received employment insurance recently
  • if you are a student
  • if you are within a specific age range

Looking for Summer Work

  • Young Canada Works
    For students and new graduates between the ages of 16 to 30. Register with the program to apply for culture and heritage jobs across Canada.
  • Tree Planting Companies
    Seasonal work planting trees in all parts of British Columbia and across Canada. Most hire in January/February for the summer season.

Your Rights as a Young Worker

The BC Human Right’s Code states that an employer cannot refuse to interview, hire or promote you or decide to fire you because of your age.

A potential employer cannot ask your age; the only acceptable question is whether you have reached the legal working age (12 years old).

In BC, you are protected from age discrimination in the workplace related to:

  • employment (hiring, firing, or terms and conditions of employment);
  • age requirements in employment;
  • membership in a trade union, employer’s organization, or occupational association (such as excluding you from membership because of age, or discriminating against you due to your age).

Note: If you are under 19 years of age, you are not protected from age discrimination, but are protected from sexual harassment, race-related discrimination or disability-related discrimination.

If you have experienced age discrimination

  • If it is safe to do so, tell the person firmly that their actions or comments are unacceptable and ask them to stop. If you find this difficult, consider asking a friend for help.
  • Keep a written record of exactly what happened and when and what was said.
  • File a human rights complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Filing a complaint starts a legal process that is similar to a court proceeding. Assistance is available when either filing or responding to a complaint.

See the following resources for more information:

For information on rights for workers under 15 years old see:

Additional Resources

  • Moving Ahead Program
    An education, job search and life skills program for young adult immigrants aged 15-25.