Intern to The Standard
“Not too long ago Durham had the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada for youth that were unemployed and underemployed,” said Lisa Smith-Maxam, founder and CEO of The Staff Room (TSR) and TSR Canada.
The Staff Room is a human resources management consulting firm, as well as a staffing agency. TSR Canada is similar but focuses on career coaching and helps young people get jobs.
TSR Canada is currently working towards becoming a non-profit organization to help the Durham Region employ more young people, disabled people, and newcomers to Canada.
Lisa said the organization isn’t trying to get people temporary jobs, instead they are helping them find a career and build a future.
“We’re not after getting them a job at a retail store. We are after getting them a career with a company.”
When Lisa spoke at a council meeting in mid-April, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger said he was surprised to hear Durham Region has such a high youth unemployment rate.
With the Oshawa mall expansion and the 407 extension coming in, he said Durham Region shouldn’t be facing a youth unemployment problem.
Mr. Ballinger mentioned how UOIT and Durham College bring many jobs to Oshawa and the Durham Region.
He also cited Durham Regions growth assessment, which predicts the population and number of jobs in Durham Region will grow significantly by 2031.
“I actually really do believe Durham Region will be growing in jobs and numbers,” Mr. Ballinger said. “It is going to peak in 2031, in the next 14 years I see a lot more jobs coming to Durham Region.”
Ms. Smith-Maxam said, something must be done now to lower youth unemployment, or the issue will only get bigger. Youth don’t have the same opportunities for employment like they did 40 years ago, Lisa said too many university graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Most workplaces require experience in the field for entry level jobs and youth aren’t being given the opportunity to get it.
Depending on the field, TSR Canada helps their clients get internships or the experience they need for the job they are looking for.
“We try to help them get that experience employers are wanting,” Lisa said.
She said they encounter a lot of bright and talented individuals that just need to be pushed in the right direction.
“We have some extremely talented students here and extremely talented youth in general and some of their ideas are phenomenal,” Lisa said. “But they are not reaching their full potential because they aren’t being shown how.”
TSR Canada has worked with kids in grade seven and eight to reinforce the importance of staying in school and working towards a career. The organization then comes back to those kids in grade 11 and 12, to reiterate the message, as they navigate what their future might look like.
Lisa Smith-Maxam hopes to continue to run similar programs moving forward, and would like to see the provincial and municipal governments fund initiatives to employ more youth.
“I think that funding is something that definitely has to be done. We need to pour money into our youth,” Lisa said. “The youth are our future.”
She is finding people are leaving Durham after they graduate, because they can’t find jobs in their field of study.
“Some of our goals are to bring more employers back to Durham,” Lisa said.
TSR Canada hopes the Uxbridge township will be able to provide a venue for a future youth job fair in the coming months. The organization also hopes to work with the provincial and municipal government to lower youth unemployment.