Toronto Mayor Salutes Starbucks Efforts to Address Youth Unemployment

Toronto Mayor John Tory honored Starbucks Canada for its efforts to address youth unemployment at a ceremony held earlier today (June 8). The Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) Leadership Award for Impact was presented in the mayor’s chambers to Rossann Williams, president, Starbucks Canada, and a number of store managers and district managers who’ve supported the company’s recruitment and hiring focus.

Starbucks and PAYE, a joint initiative between the private sector and the City of Toronto, unveiled an effort in April 2015 to increase access to economic opportunities among city youth. Starbucks committed to hire 10 percent of its barista workforce in Toronto from unemployed youth living in city-designated Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. The company’s target was 150 hires in the first year, which it surpassed, hiring 161 by April 2016. The jobs come with a guarantee of at least 20 hours a week, plus medical benefits, tuition reimbursements, stocks, future savings, and career and personal support services.

Working together, Starbucks and PAYE developed and implemented a customized calendar of activities over the course of the last year that includes information sessions, hiring events and networking opportunities.

Among the Toronto partners (employees) hired as a result of the initiative is Oscar Flores. Flores, a Venezuelan with a degree in civil engineering, arrived in Canada in 2015 with an interest in learning to speak English. Unable to find work while he developed his language skills, he was ultimately hired by Starbucks through PAYE last August. He’s since been promoted to shift supervisor.

“It's amazing seeing the change in the partners and how confident they are," said store manager Elif Guzelgun.

"I feel like a proud mama. Many of the hires didn’t know how to get a job before," said store manager Leslie Cook. "Our partnership removes barriers and opens up opportunities.”

Starbucks Canada is taking the 10 percent hiring commitment to Montreal and Vancouver, with more cities to come.

This effort corresponds to the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative – a coalition of leading U.S.-based companies committed to engaging at least 100,000 opportunity youth (16- to 24-year-olds who face systemic barriers to jobs and education) by 2018 through apprenticeships, internships, and both part-time and full-time jobs.

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