Equipping new workers with the skills to manage their income

YES Employment & Entrepreneurship Montreal is a non-profit, community-driven English-language service provider that has been helping Quebecers find employment and start and grow businesses for over 25 years. Its Youth on the Rise employability program aims to support individuals aged 18 to 30 who are experiencing barriers to employment by providing them with the skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing labour market. The program runs twice a year and involves two months of training (currently offered online due to COVID-19), followed by three months of work experience where learners can put their skills into knowledge and practice.

The training portion of the program is extensive, with approximately 80 workshops on various skills, such as digital literacy, French revision, self-assessment, and financial literacy. Recently, YES turned to ABC Life Literacy Canada’s Money Matters program for assistance in offering a more robust financial literacy workshop to meet participants’ complex needs.

“We started out running the financial literacy workshops on our own, but quickly realized that we didn’t have the answers to a lot of specific questions that our youth were looking for,” said Erjona Mulellari, Youth on the Rise Employment Program Coordinator at YES. “We decided to use Money Matters as our financial literacy workshop because it allowed us to bring in volunteers from TD Bank who were extremely knowledgeable on this topic.”

Money Matters is a free introductory financial literacy program for adult learners that offers workshops on four different topics: Banking Basics, Ways to Save, Borrowing Money, and Spending Plans. It was started in 2010 by ABC Life Literacy Canada with support from founding sponsor TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment.

Mulellari says that financial literacy is an important factor in any employability program because it gives learners the know-how to manage their newfound income. In the case of YES’ Youth on the Rise participants, many haven’t had a lot of work experience and therefore haven’t had to manage an income before. As the participants enter the workforce, it’s important that they become equipped with the skills and know-how to spend money in a responsible way.

Mulellari’s colleague, Teneille Arnott, agrees. Arnott, the Employment Program Manager for Youth on the Rise, says that financial literacy education can provide youth with sustainable long-term skills and knowledge on how to manage money.

“Economic empowerment is important as it can offer youth a level of autonomy they may have not experienced before,” she says. “Many of our learners start the program without a bank account, so a lot of this information is new to them. The information in the financial literacy workshop ensures that learners understand how to become economically resilient, which is especially important in these uncertain times.”

Mulellari says that the learners who have participated in Money Matters so far have changed their way of thinking when it comes money, and are excited about having the skills to manage money. She says the TD volunteers shared a lot of real-life examples about money from their own personal lives, which was really effective.

“We really loved having the volunteers from TD Bank and are very grateful to them,” says Mulellari. “They were able to use the previous PowerPoint presentation that we had and tweaked it as they saw fit. The meetings we had with them ahead of the workshops were helpful in getting them to understand the audience and their knowledge level.”

Through the TD Bank volunteers, participants learned the essentials about banks and banking and the choices available to them. They learned about personal bank accounts, and which type might best suit them and their money needs. Lastly, they learned about what a bank can do for them and how it can save them money.

“Our participants had questions beyond the content provided in the workbook, so it was great to have those TD volunteers there to answer these questions. They were asking about saving, interest rates, even cryptocurrency, so we were thankful that there were experts on hand to answer specific questions such as these.”

Now that the youth have finished the training portion of the program, they’ll be entering the workforce. YES matches learners with entry-level, subsidized positions in settings such as clinics, movie theatres, restaurants and non-profit organizations, and many of them are hired on to full-time employment upon completion of their subsidized work experience. They will now have the skills to manage their newfound income successfully.

Youth on the Rise is a paid work experience program consisting of 8-weeks of training followed by a 3-month entry-level work placement in the Montreal community. To learn more about YES and the Youth on the Rise program, visit yesmontreal.ca.

To learn more about Money Matters, visit abcmoneymatters.ca.