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Youth Break Barriers to Employment (YBBE)

YBBE Logo_edited.png

UNA-Canada's initiative to tackle youth un-and underemployment in positions relating to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

March 31, 2024, concluded the third year that UNA-Canada has operated the Youth Breaking Barriers to Employment (YBBE) programme. To commemorate this milestone, we want to share a summary of the programme and everything it has achieved.  


What is YBBE, and what were its goals?

YBBE aimed to support young people in overcoming obstacles to employment and find meaningful employment in Toronto, Hamilton, and St. Catharines. The programme achieved this by supporting youth (ages 15-30) to develop skills, knowledge, networks, and meaningful work experiences related to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In collaboration with Employment & Social Development Canada, UNA-Canada offered 21 hours of paid training to programme participants in the following subjects: 

  • Negotiation in the Workplace   

  • Burnout Recovery   

  • Networking   

  • Equity, Diversion and Inclusion  

  • Communication in the Workplace   

  • Career Coaching   

  • Sustainable Development and Activism  

  • Resume Writing   

  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship  

  • Financial Literacy    

  • Truth and Reconciliation   

  • Sustainable development and your career 

UNA-Canada's ability to pay participants for the time that they attended the trainings was a critical measure in ensuring that no participants would face a financial cost to programme participation. 

What is the programme's connection with the Sustainable Development Goals, and how does this link make the programme unique?

The 17 SDGs form part of a global blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet that were adopted by every United Nations Member State in 2015. Given the historic barriers faced by Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQ2SIA+ youth in Canada, programmes such as YBBE are essential in helping Canada’s youth attain an equitable future in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, such as Reduced Inequality.  

YBBE stands apart from other job readiness programmes through its alignment with the SDGs: we have worked actively to ensure that the employers we partner with and the trainings we offer advance one or more of the 17 SDGs, listed below.


Who were the programme participants?

164 young people participated in the programme in between 2021 and 2024, of which:  

  • 68.3% (112 individuals) self-identified as racialized youth 

  • 37.2% (61 individuals) self-identified as LGBTQ2SIA+ 

  • 11.6% (19 individuals) self-identified as Indigenous 

  • 21.3% (35 individuals) self-identified as having a disability 

We sought to support youth from backgrounds that have faced historic barriers to employment, and are proud of the diverse experiences that of our participants brought to the table.  

Programme Impact?

The YBBE programme had two concrete benefits to participants. Firstly, the 21 training hours helped participants to gain critical knowledge and skills to help them achieve favorable outcomes in their professional and their personal lives. For example, the tools learned at our communication and financial literacy workshops can be applied equally at home as in the office.  

Secondly, the programme helped participants establish a professional network and build connections that could serve them well as they navigate the early stages of their careers. While many participants were already employed by the employer partners, we were able to support some youth participants in getting a foot in the door at different workplaces. The feedback we received indicates that many participants were successful in establishing positive relationships with their employers and coworkers that they could leverage later on.

Of the 164 youth who participated in YBBE,  

  • 106 individuals (65% of the total served) were employed or self-employed 

  • 35 individuals (21% of the total served) had plans to return to school

Breaking Barriers


Gain Work Experience


Provide Training and Certification


Build Professional Connections

How did participants feel about their experiences?

Here are a few quotes from the young people who took part in YBBE. 

“The YBBE placement has opened the doors for me by not only helping me land a full-time position with a non-profit that fits my ideals, but also has enabled me to develop a toolkit that I can bring forth to any work environment going forward. I have now built connections not only within the world of public transportation, but also built professional connections” 

“Overall, my YBBE placement has inspired me to take my own hopes and capabilities seriously while imagining and considering the opportunities available to me in the future of my career journey” 

“The YBBE placement has helped me develop skills for job-hunting, such as interviewing skills, and the tools to discuss and negotiate salary. Before this I didn’t realize how common and expected it is to negotiate your salary.... It has helped me gain more clarity on what kind of organization I would want to work at”  

“The placement has changed my outlook on career opportunities as the workshops have exposed me to various ways to work and live sustainably within different fields and sectors. I feel more confident seeking out and also creating opportunities for myself” 

“My journey with this […] organization has been a profound chapter of growth, learning, and empowerment. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities it has provided me and the connections I've made. This experience will undoubtedly continue to influence my personal and professional life as I strive to be an advocate for equity, justice, and the empowerment of all marginalized voices.” 

“YBBE has changed my career outlook, as I have a better understanding of the job market and the importance of networking, taking initiative, and, most importantly, being myself. This program has empowered me to feel more confident in my abilities and know my worth.” 

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