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Young Workers in Ontario: Psychosocial Vulnerabilities and Employment Support Needs

Young workers

Young workers are defined as those aged 14 to 24 years. New workers include "young workers" and those aged 25 and older who are on the job for less than six months or who are assigned to a new job in the same workplace.

Vulnerable groups such as young workers are more likely to be in precarious employment. Precarious employment is defined as work that is part-time, seasonal or temporary. This type of employment impacts the traditional employee-employer relationship and puts young workers at greater risk of not receiving their employment standards entitlements. They may also lack the ability or the resources to understand their rights at work.

A research study conducted in 2017 of over 400 young adults seeking employment in Ontario explored the perspectives of youth (age 16-25) regarding challenges that they faced in entry-level jobs. Approximately 24% met criteria for severe mental distress. This is 4 times higher than the general population*. Anxiety is the most commonly reported issue, although a range of other mental health concerns may be coexistent. Analysis led to identification of key challenges and preferred support strategies that could optimize their success at work. The recommendations in this study are based on stories and experiences shared by the participating youth.

Young workers bring enthusiasm and energy in the workplace. It is important for parents, guardians and employers to be aware of the psychosocial needs of youth in the workplace. Available for download are two factsheets that provide strategies, tips and guidance on how to improve mental health wellbeing in the workplace.

  1. Grow your Knowledge (1018 KB PDF) - these four key support strategies will help young workers succeed in the workplace.
  2. Start the Conversation (632 KB PDF) - learn what symptoms and signs indicate mental health concerns and how you can take action to help!

The following videos highlight the key psychosocial hazards experienced by young workers. These can be utilized by employers, HR personnel, JHSC and guardians to help engage in a conversation regarding mental health in the workplace. It is important to provide that young workers are aware of their employment rights in their workplace.

Sourcing Information: 
* Moll, S. (2017). Young Workers in Ontario: Psychosocial vulnerabilities and support needs. Final report for Ontario Ministry of Labour.