CANNEXUS20: Helping youth on their Green Career Pathways

February 06, 2020

Tara speaks with a conference delegate at the PLT Canada booth.

Tara Topping, Career Education Manager for PLT Canada, hosted a booth at Cannexus20 with Zac Wagman, Green Jobs Manager (not pictured).

By Tara Topping, Career Education Manager

PLT Canada recently attended Cannexus20, a national career development conference, to connect with youth and career professionals about exciting jobs in the forest and conservation sector.

Opening the door to green jobs in forestry and conservation

We were there to highlight how green jobs are an emerging youth employment opportunity. We believe we have a huge opportunity to play a big role in bridging the gap between the demand for young talent and youth looking for green careers.  

Attendees were excited about the tools we’re developing, like our mentorship program (launching in March) and our upcoming career and environmental education resources. Our mentorship program will connect youth from across the country with forest and conservation professionals. On the environmental education side, the learning materials that we’ll soon be bringing into schools teach about how forests provide sustainable jobs and solutions to environmental challenges.

Finding the right tools and resources for youth

We also spoke with career counsellors from across the country. Many of them help youth who identify as Indigenous, rural, or newcomers to Canada. They said youth are struggling to find useful information about the labour market and that they need help to navigate career options. In these conversations, as well as in workshops we attended, there was a clear message that there is a huge demand for transferable soft skills, like communications, critical thinking, and creativity and that youth need support to develop these skills both at school and beyond.

Designing workplaces where youth thrive

Youth care about the world and about achieving work-life harmony. They want a workplace that is aligned with their values. Cannexus20 made it clear that we need to work with youth and employers in creating these flexible workplaces.

Where do we start?

A lot of great conversations at the conference began with “where do we start,” both from a youth perspective and from the perspective of career support professionals. The resounding answer was “start where you are.” I love that it reflects that where you are is ok. I am so excited for the tools that we are developing at PLT Canada with this exact message in mind. I look forward to supporting more youth in getting experience through our green jobs and internship programs. I’m also excited to provide them with mentorship, career development and education resources to meet them wherever they are along their career journey.

For more information about finding a mentor or being a mentor, check out our mentorship program.

Tara Topping is PLT Canada’s Manager of Career Education. She is currently focused on developing the organization’s #MyGreenMentor mentorship program, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada under it’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. PLT Canada is an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.


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