It’s often said that “youth are the leaders of tomorrow” but, in fact, youth are already leaders. And like all leaders, they benefit from learning leadership skills in an environment that recognizes the important roles they already hold. As workers, youth are particularly vulnerable to precarious employment, employer abuses and health and safety risks. To amplify the voices of young leaders is critical to improving rights and conditions for all workers.

Why do we often hear that youths are the future leaders of our generation to tackle various issues, including those faced by the working class? This is because youths are catalysts of change who help drive continuous improvement for future innovative solutions. Whether at the local, national, or global levels, it is critical to educate youths on how to lead because they are the ones who will be fighting for workers’ rights and issues, creating opportunities for a more equitable and inclusive society, brainstorming the world they want to live in, and pursuing other creative avenues to enact positive societal change. 

Are you a youth interested in working class issues, or do you know someone who is? Check out these resources below.

BCFED Young Workers’ Committee 

The Young Workers’ Committee (YWC) is a standing committee of the BCFED dedicated to encouraging union participation among young people and to address inequity that young workers face as a result of discriminatory beliefs, policies, and legislation. The Young Workers’ Committee, through the creation of the Employee Action and Rights Network (EARN) fights on behalf of all working people in BC for better employment standards and safer working conditions. The YWC educates students in high schools about Employment Standards and workers rights, as well as the role unions play in improving our society.

Alive After Five 

The Alive After Five Young Worker Awareness Program of the BC Federation of Labour is an innovative initiative that seeks to make the province a healthier and safer place to live and work for all of us. Alive After Five is able to provide FREE occupational health and safety presentations to all interested high schools and employment programs in any and all geographical area of the province. The presentations are engaging and interactive for the participants.

WorkSafeBC Young or New Workers 

Part 3 of the OHS Guidelines outlines rights and responsibilities regarding young workers. The purpose is to provide information on the objectives to orientate and train young workers, possible means to deliver these requirements, and where to get further information. The training has a number of topics that must be addressed including related to ensuring a healthy and safe work environment. 

  • WorkSafeBC Young Workers’ Portal. The portal provides a range of materials and helpful links, including a checklist for training and orientation, a program on rights and responsibilities, and information on typical accidents young workers have experienced.
  • Other industry health and safety associations & organizations may also have industry-specific resources available for young workers. A list of associations & organizations is available here 

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 

Helpful OHS Resources and information are available to parents, teachers, and employers of young workers, and of course, young workers themselves.