ACCES Employment is a non-profit organization based in Toronto, ON. Its mission is to assist job seekers from diverse backgrounds who are facing barriers to employment to integrate into the Canadian job market. It achieves this by providing employment services (including job search services to newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area and online services to pre-arrival clients internationally), linking employers to skilled people, and building strong networks in collaboration with community partners.
In 2016, Starbucks Canada approached ACCES Employment for assistance in achieving their goal of hiring 1,000 refugees over a five-year period. Together they organized a series of recruitment events targeting refugee youth who were facing particularly acute challenges of unemployment and underemployment in the Toronto labour market. ACCES Employment was initially engaged to assist with recruitment of refugee youth job seekers; however, several challenges were identified during the initial implementation phase, such as participant retention and workplace onboarding. This led to a more evolved relationship and partnership between ACCES Employment and Starbucks Canada, which came to include strategic guidance on education and support service programming, and the development of the Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program.
Overview of the Program
Goal(s): The goals of the Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program are: to support the participation of newcomer youth in the local economy; to support the integration of newcomer youth into their new community; to increase youth employability skills that boost their long-term career prospects; and to increase the capacity of employers to onboard and retain newcomer hires and demonstrate leadership in this area.
Target Client Group(s): Newcomer youth who face barriers to employment.
Delivery Partner(s): The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program was co-created and is codelivered with Starbucks Canada. Other delivery partners include OTEC, a non-profit organization supporting employment service innovation for Ontario’s hospitality and tourism sectors, and Magnet, a digital social innovation platform.
Human Resource(s): The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program has three full-time staff: a program manager, a coordinator, and an employment consultant. It is also supported by different organizational teams, including the Corporate Engagement Team (to manage the employer relationship with Starbucks Canada) and the Program Development Team (to oversee the rollout of the program model, performance management, and evaluation).
Funding: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Key features that contribute to this being a promising practice
Effective: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program incorporates a range of theory- and evidence-informed approaches and interventions that are among the most effective at improving labour market outcomes for newcomer youth within short- and long-term timeframes. These include contextualized skills training, language learning, and industry-recognized certification. It also features a variety of employer-engagement strategies, as well as post-program coaching and work-based experiential learning opportunities for participants who are successfully hired.
Efficient: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program includes pre-program activities to determine client eligibility and suitability. Potential candidates participate in a vocational assessment, which centres on their interests, needs, behaviours and motivations, and is benchmarked against Starbucks’ perceptions of the behaviours, skills and capacities most necessary for success, to estimate their “fit” for the entry-level barista role, or with other programs if the current program is not a match. Training sessions are held in different locations across the Greater Toronto Area, depending on which Starbucks locations are hiring.
Relevant: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program was designed with the employer’s hiring needs in mind. The content and format of the training sessions align with Starbucks Canada’s expectations for the barista role, and are regularly adjusted based on client and employer feedback. Participants also receive skill-building opportunities that can be applied to any customer-service setting.
Sustainable: Starbucks Canada has committed to hiring 1,000 refugees between 2017 and 2022. The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program is an employer-targeted program that was created to assist Starbucks Canada in meeting its labour market development goal, as well as its more general corporate priority of hiring youth.
Transferable: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program has the potential to be scaled and replicated in terms of geography, sector, employer, and client population. It is currently being introduced in other Canadian cities, such as Calgary and Edmonton. ACCES Employment is also exploring the potential to customize training for other large employers, such as IKEA Canada.
Innovative and Forward Thinking: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program takes an innovative approach to supporting employers to meet their hiring needs and corporate social responsibility goals, while also supporting a vulnerable immigrant client group to secure meaningful employment and enhance their long-term career prospects. The partnership with OTEC and Magnet has allowed ACCES Employment and Starbucks Canada to incorporate a strength-based vocational assessment into the training that has been benchmarked for the barista role.
Differs in Definable Ways from Other Similar Practices: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program prepares newcomer youth job seekers for a role with Starbucks Canada, or another customer service setting; it also prepares hiring managers for onboarding vulnerable newcomer youth hires using a culturallysensitive and informed approach. It was developed using a consultative process and an iterative program development approach to ensure the needs of both clients and the employer are met. It represents an approach to systemic change in the space of employment and social service provision, as well as business hiring and staffing models. It features a variety of employerengagement strategies and post-program coaching, as well as work-based experiential learning opportunities for participants who are successfully hired.
High Client Uptake: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program has high client uptake due to a combination of factors. Youth are interested in working at Starbucks because it is an internationally-recognized brand with a strong reputation for social responsibility. As an employer, Starbucks offers in-depth customer service and workplace culture training for new staff, as well as cultural sensitivity training for their management team and staff to ensure that their diverse staff and clientele feel welcomed and accommodated. As an organization, ACCES Employment has an existing service model that supports youth through a variety of programs and services and provides several options for connecting with employers.
High Client Retention: The Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program has high client retention due to a combination of factors. It was designed to move newcomer youth quickly into roles at Starbucks, with a hiring opportunity provided to participants at the end of the program. This has encouraged retention and resulted in a significant number of hires immediately upon completion. ACCES Employment uses a holistic approach to employment counselling to ensure the diverse needs of job-seeking clients are met, including housing and mental health supports. It also provides a strong peer support network that encourages a sense of belonging among clients, who may otherwise feel disenfranchised or out-of-place. The relationship between ACCES Employment team members and clients is built on trust, which encourages open feedback and is vital to the program’s success.
Strong Evidence of Successful Outcomes: A survey was distributed to newcomer youth and Starbucks staff who participated in the Barista Training for Newcomer Youth with Starbucks Canada program. A total of 75 newcomer youth, who represent two-thirds of program participants, were hired by Starbucks in various locations across the Greater Toronto Area. Another 30 newcomer youth secured employment elsewhere. The findings also suggest that the program contributed to a retention rate of approximately 84% after three months, and 71% after six months.
Source: Pathways to Prosperity Sharing Settlement and Integration Practices that Work project: design, implement, and evaluate a process for identifying and sharing promising practices in immigrant settlement and integration with an empirical basis for their effectiveness.