Supporting Newcomer Youth
with Employment Opportunities

Sanaa Mohammed, ACGC

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO) is a community-based organization based in Edmonton, Alberta with a mission to promote the educational needs for all Somalis, at home and around the world. SCERDO believes that education and rural development are pre-requisites for the social and economic development of Somalia. Volunteers contribute greatly to SCERDO’s work, providing professional training, mentorship, hosting community events, and gathering resources for newcomers. 

 As of January 2018, the youth unemployment rate in Canada decreased by 2.2% compared to January 2017 according to Statistics Canada. Increased community support for youth is one reason for this decrease in unemployment. Some communities provide youth access to employment skills and work experience that are useful in finding employment and creating jobs. It is crucial to create more jobs for the economy to expand and grow. It is especially important for youth as they are significant to the future of the economy. Youth are equipped with skills in technology and social media, they are highly innovative, and they are aware of the current trends and perspectives of society. These traits allow youth to expand the businesses and organizations they work for and ultimately the economy. 

Within a year, youth complete the program, land a job, then give back to the community by becoming taxpayers, volunteers and positive community members

To help youth enter and succeed in the workforce, SCERDO offers the Youth Employment Skills/Work Experience program. Youth participate in 10 weeks of in-class training, learning vital employment skills, such as resume and cover letter writing, training on Microsoft applications, and career planning. Following the in-class training, youth are matched with local employers for a 14-week work experience program. So successful are the placements, that most youth who have participated have been offered permanent employment after their experience. 

Abdikani Mohamud, Student at SCERDO

This program and its objectives support the targets of Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Jobs and Economic Growth, by creating work for youth and preparing them for their careers. Abdikani Mohamud, a student currently enrolled in the program, just came to Canada in June 2018. Most of his life was spent in Somalia, but he was living in Ethiopia for the past 5 years which is where he learned English – a language he has “interest and passion” for. With no job experience, he enrolled in this program as soon as he arrived to get a certificate to help him get a job. Highly motivated and eager to participate in the workforce, he says that nothing is difficult about the program if you, “put in effort, read, and do your homework.”

Photo:  Bashir Ahmed, the Executive Director of SCERDO, with Sanaa Mohammed, ACGC. 

While Abdikani has strong English, this is not often the case with many of the newcomers in the program. Nadia Fatah, the facilitator for the program, finds the largest employment barriers youth in the program have are their English level and their lack of work experience. This program helps eliminates these barriers by strengthening English skills and providing relevant workplace skills and experience. The program achieves these goals in a relatively short amount of time. As noted by Bashir Ahmed, the Executive Director of SCERDO, within a year, youth complete the program, land a job, then give back to the community by becoming taxpayers, volunteers and positive community members. This “positive circle” for society, Mr. Ahmed believes, is the biggest benefit of this program, and is worth the investment.