Pivot 2020 provides jobs for youth to support Canada’s pandemic recovery

August 28, 2020

COVID-19 has decimated jobs, especially for young people. According to Statistics Canada, youth unemployment in Canada has skyrocketed from 10 per cent in January to 31 per cent.

“Many students have lost jobs or have had recent job offers delayed, or even cancelled,” says Joane Thompson, an SFU Co-op student. “Like others, I had also recently lost my job. Now more than ever, students need safe and reliable employment opportunities and Canada needs their innovation to bolster our recovery.”

To help young people find work amid the pandemic, a new federally-funded youth employment program led by Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Youthful Cities and the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity is open for applications. Pivot 2020, an urban research project, will provide more than 1,200 young Canadians with paid research and skill development positions in 27 cities across Canada.

“We are facing unprecedented times, and as Canada’s engaged university we are working to help youth overcome barriers to employment and develop a broad range of skills and knowledge in order to participate in the current and future labour market,” says SFU president and vice-chancellor Andrew Petter. “We are excited to be partnering with Youthful Cities, the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity and other partners to engage youth in contributing to Canada’s COVID-19 economic and workforce recovery effort.”

Hired youth will conduct urban research to better understand youth needs and ideas about their city. This information will populate an open source database that cities can use as part of their pandemic recovery plans.

“Urban youth are innovators who can and should play an active part in shaping our cities,” says Robert Barnard, co-founder of Youthful Cities and an SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue Fellow. “More than ever, cities need their curiosity, openness and connectedness to help regenerate momentum towards a better urban future for all.”

Pivot 2020 positions are available in 27 Canadian cities, will pay above minimum wage, ranging from two to five months, focus on enhanced skill development and on-the-job training, and are entirely virtual to meet COVID-19 safety considerations. Participants will develop technical skills to equip them for a changing labour market and will be given an Award of Completion from SFU Lifelong Learning. Applications for team leader roles in Quebec (Laval, Montreal and Quebec) have been extended to September 3 and team member roles for all cities have been extended to September 7.

Hedy Fry, Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, says that she’s proud to see SFU be part of the project and bring employment opportunities to young people.

“Their focus on youth who have not been employed in the past six months helps young people get training and experience, and ensures safe opportunities for youth during COVID-19,” says Fry.

Additional program partners include Tamarack Institute, Canadian Urban Institute and Institut du Nouveau Monde, and community-based organizations in each city that will support local youth engagement.

For Thompson, Pivot 2020 comes at just the right time.

“Pivot 2020 would be an amazing opportunity for me to work and improve my skills,” says Thompson. “I look forward to future employment prospects it will bring me once the pandemic subsides.”

For more information about Pivot 2020 and to apply, see