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Mark Beckles

Mark Beckles

Senior Director of Youth Strategy & Innovation, RBC

RBC Future Launch is empowering youth with access to the programs and resources they need to succeed — even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many young people in Canada are feeling anxious about entering the workforce. Fewer than half (41%) of students feel that they’ve gained the critical skills needed to transition to the workforce. Furthermore, only 43% of employers feel that students are prepared with the necessary professionalism, work ethic, and teamwork and collaboration skills. Youth face numerous barriers when making the school to work transition, including lack of relevant work experience, relevant skills, professional networks, and access to mental well-being supports.

As Canada’s prosperity is directly linked to our ability to prepare the next generation for success, these challenges affect us all. 

Creating change through collaboration 

To this end, RBC is empowering youth for the future of work by providing access to programs, tools, and resources directly focused on preparedness. RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500-million commitment to help young people develop the capabilities and connections to thrive and prosper in the workforce.

“RBC Future Launch brings together governments, educational institutions, and partners in the public and private sectors to co-create programming and solutions to ensure that young people are equipped for the future of work,” says Mark Beckles, Senior Director of Youth Strategy and Innovation at RBC. The program focuses on four pillars: work experience, skills development, networking, and mental well-being. The key focus areas were developed based on research that RBC conducted with young people, educators, and thought leaders across Canada, Beckles notes.

Helping youth adapt in challenging times

“Much of the programming we support through RBC Future Launch is built on bringing people together — to share stories and ideas and to learn from one another,” says Beckles. “In our current reality, doing this in a physical setting quickly became impossible, but our partners have adapted to this new normal with virtual programming and resources to make RBC Future Launch at Home possible.” The online learning hub offers more than 40 virtual opportunities to support Canadian youth in remote and virtual environments amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The RBC Future Launch Scholarship is another resource designed to support young people. “We re-imagined our approach to funding scholarships so that it’s more inclusive and accessible,” says Beckles. The unique program helps part-time students or those who are not in school gain new skills and has already received over 6,800 submissions.

“Young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19,” says Beckles. Many rely on summer jobs to help pay for their schooling, but now wonder if they’ll be able to find placements. For its part, RBC has welcomed close to 1,400 summer students this year.

For youth struggling to find summer employment, Beckles offers some advice. “Continue to visit job boards and to watch for opportunities to present themselves as the economy begins to open up,” he says. “There’s no doubt it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s also just a matter of being resilient and sustaining your efforts. The government has announced significant dollars to pay for youth employment opportunities and we should see those emerge quite quickly.”

Even in unprecedented times, youth can find success. With leaders like RBC helping to address the challenges that youth face and working collaboratively to create opportunities, the future remains bright for Canadian youth. 

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