Starbucks Canada targets youth unemployment with program to hire at-risk young people
“There’s a crisis on youth unemployment and there’s a crisis on the hope that you can achieve, that you can get started,” Luisa Girotto, Starbucks Canada’s vice president of public affairs, said. “It’s not enough to say we’ll hire five, we’ll hire ten. It’s not about making a little dent.”
Canada’s national youth unemployment rate was 13.5 per cent in October, nearly double the general rate of 7.1 per cent, a difference that Girotto called “staggering.”
Most of the hires in the Starbucks program will be part time. But during the pilot program, Girotto said multiple shift supervisors and associates were hired and identified as having the potential to ascend in the company’s ranks.
Starbucks Canada employees who work a minimum of 20 hours per week are entitled to dental and medical benefits and tuition reimbursement, Girotto said.
Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, said the program is “good for business” and could lead to Starbucks gaining a competitive edge.
“If I had the choice between Starbucks and Timothy’s, there’s a likelihood that I would choose Starbucks because of this very thing,” Cooper said. “It gives them an aura of being a good company. It makes people who are customers feel better about buying Starbucks and could potentially increase their customer base.”
Cooper said she expects other large retail chains to take notice and potentially follow suit.
“There’s always this need to effect, especially since I think it gives Starbucks a competitive advantage. So we may well see it in all kinds of sectors… and not just minimum wage jobs either.”