Starbucks Canada Takes Bold Steps to Tackle National Youth Unemployment

Company commits 10 per cent of all store new hires to Opportunity Youth and will further create 600 work placements for Non-Job-Ready Youth over the next three years

Starbucks Canada announced today that, in partnership with various levels of government and local social agencies, it is taking real action to tackle the country's critical youth unemployment rates. As one of the country's leading employers for young people, the company is taking a leadership position by committing 10 per cent of its store hires to Opportunity Youth, which are young people ages 16-24 who are not working and are not going to school. These are motivated young people who have a strong desire to work, but are facing various systemic barriers to employment and require even more support in finding pathways to opportunity. They represent a vital and untapped resource of talent that has the potential to contribute to the success of business.

The program, which launched in Toronto in April, is on track to exceed the 10 per cent goal (150 jobs) within the first year, which validates that there is a demand for this kind of programming. In the first six months 109 young people have found meaningful employment at Starbucks. Following this success, the program is now being expanded nationally starting with Montreal and Vancouver, with more cities to come. At the same time, Starbucks is continuing its long-term commitment to providing non-work-ready youth with the tools necessary to achieve gainful employment. The company is expanding the thriving work placement program, which currently operates in Surrey, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary to include Montreal. Combined, these programs will create 4,100 jobs and work placements over the next three years.

"Youth unemployment is an issue that requires immediate attention. We simply can't have a generation of unemployed and disconnected youth," says Rossann Williams, President, Starbucks Canada. "This generation deserves the same opportunity previous generations have enjoyed. Closing the opportunity divide requires bold leadership and innovation across all sectors, and we are proud to be working with community organizations and municipalities to do our part. By supporting these young people, we believe we can create real pathways to opportunity for these new hires while driving our business forward and strengthening the communities we serve."

Youth unemployment poses a significant threat to the social and economic wellbeing of Canada's future. The youth unemployment rate (13.5 per cent) is nearly double the national adult average (7.1 per cent). Starbucks is committed to having a positive impact on this issue, with a focus on Opportunity Youth. This ambition is made possible by ground-breaking partnerships with The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation in Vancouver, City of Toronto and Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) in Toronto as well as Société de développement social de Ville-Marie (SDSVM) in Montreal.

Beyond employment and work readiness, further opportunities are created by providing part-time employees with "full-time" benefits. Partners (employees) who work a minimum of 20 hours a week receive medical and dental benefits, tuition reimbursements, stocks, future savings along with career and personal support services. With 73 per cent of its store partners under the age of 24, Starbucks is committed to offering employment conditions that provide young people with the early support they need to be successful.

About the Starbucks Barista Work Placement Program

Over the last 13 years, Starbucks, in partnership with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) in Surrey B.C., has been investing in creating opportunities for some of the province's non-job-ready youth through the work placement program. This program couples in-class life and employability skills training with in-store Barista work experience, in order to provide the skills and work experience these youth need to become gainfully employed.  Since its inception, the program has successfully graduated more than 500 youth, with a current annual commitment of 100 work placements between Surrey and Vancouver. The goal of the program is for graduates to either secure employment (with Starbucks or others) or go back to school within 12 weeks of graduating. In 2014, Starbucks expanded this program to include Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, supporting an additional 100 youth each year and is now expanding the program to Montreal taking the total to 200.

About Starbucks

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at and the Starbucks Newsroom at

About Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE)

The Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) is a joint initiative between private-sector employers, the City of Toronto and an extensive network of community-based employment service providers. Since 2009, PAYE has successfully connected hundreds of youth (aged 18-29) from diverse neighbourhoods to job opportunities and vital employment preparation supports provided by the City and community partners.

About Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation provides British Columbians in need with a system of supports that can help them participate more fully in their communities and achieve their social and economic potential. In 2015/16, the Ministry will invest $331 million in the Employment Program of BC, offering employment and labour market programs for all residents, including people who experience barriers to employment. This funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Service Centres that can help youth aged 16 to 30, who are no longer in school, find a job, access training, or pursue self-employment. Approximately 50,000 youth have received case managed services from WorkBC since April 2012. 

About Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS)

Pacific Community Resources is an award winning, accredited non-profit community agency providing a range of services, including employment services, education programs, housing, and addiction counselling and prevention programs for youth, adults and families from a variety of backgrounds and orientations.

About Société de développement social de Ville-Marie (SDSVM)

Since 2008, the SDSVM has been acting as the first social stockbroker in North America. By creating the connection between private companies and NPOs, it establishes quantifiable, concrete projects that help combat poverty and homelessness. 

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