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Young people anxious about their future

February 10, 2022

Montreal, February 10, 2022 – The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on youth: 60% of 14 to 30 year-olds say they're anxious or very anxious about choosing a career. It's a concern that directly impacts their motivation at school, even more so when they're not sure what direction they want to take, career-wise.

That troubling statistic came out of a Desjardins-Academos survey of 2,000 young Canadians in December 2021 and January 2022.

"We need to recognize that Canada's youth—our teenagers, our university students and our young workers—have been hit extremely hard the last two years. Two years of limited physical attendance at school, cancelled sporting events and social restrictions. And this at a time when young people should be with their friends, spreading their wings and learning about themselves. They've paid a high price," says Desjardins President and CEO Guy Cormier in a recent open letter. "We need to be direct about just how big the challenges are for future generations and act accordingly. Desjardins wants to support youth through initiatives that encourage them to dive into something, exceed their own expectations, take on new challenges and above all, believe that anything is possible." 

In difficult times like these, organizations that support youth play a bigger role than ever. Desjardins is ready to step up.

Desjardins continues to support youth and is committing to do even more. At the end of 2021, the cooperative financial group had increased targeted funding for youth to almost $80 million, money it will use to support over 3,000 initiatives in 2022. Desjardins is also providing scholarships through the Desjardins Foundation and supports a variety of youth-focused projects through the GoodSpark Fund.

Desjardins-Academos survey: career choice is a big factor

The anxiety expressed by three in five young people about a career choice directly impacts their motivation at school. The people surveyed rated their academic motivation a 4.7 out of 10 when they haven't decided on a direction for their career, compared to 7.1 when they have. It's a huge gap that shows just how important it is to support young people now as they make decisions about their future.

When asked about the careers they were interested in, the people surveyed specifically mentioned jobs that were in high demand during the pandemic. Those included positions in the education sector, the health sector (physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, etc.) and the natural and applied sciences sectors (engineering, architecture, math, IT, etc.). Most of the popular career paths mentioned would be considered traditional jobs requiring a university education. It brings into stark relief the gap in academic motivation and the need to encourage youth to stay on track. 

Desjardins's commitment to youth 

Desjardins's support for youth started long before the pandemic. The organization's School Caisse program has been synonymous with financial literacy for 115 years. But the labour shortage is real, and Desjardins is focused on the future and on supporting kids where they need it, at school and as they choose a career path.

Over 3,000 initiatives focused on youth development in 2022

Today's youth were already facing challenges that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. In response, Desjardins raised its financial commitment to support youth to $80 million at the end of 2021. This year those funds will be going towards over 3,000 initiatives from partners like The YMCA of Greater Toronto and Startup Canada. See a list of organizations that received or will receive funding from Desjardins.

Scholarships: application period runs March 1–31

In 2021, Desjardins gave out scholarships to 3,400 young Canadians. The application period for the 2022 Desjardins Foundation scholarships begins March 1. The scholarships are not necessarily for academic excellence, but to support youth with their vocational, college and university studies. 

Last year, the Desjardins Foundation recognized that the pandemic has caused a significant amount of uncertainty for many young people. The organization created a new scholarship category for students who have decided to change their field of study, and for young people already in the workforce who want to go back to school and change careers. Every scholarship applicant is automatically put into a pool for several Desjardins scholarships, including Desjardins Foundation scholarships and several caisse scholarships. Details are available at

Support welcomed by partners

  • Medhat Mahdy, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Toronto: "The YMCA of Greater Toronto is dedicated to helping people, including youth, reach their full potential. Desjardins's generous support is helping our charity reach young people with new and innovative programming that builds their entrepreneurial aspirations and digital and financial literacy skills so they can shine."
  • Kayla Isabelle, CEO Startup Canada: "Desjardins's support of Startup Canada has been instrumental in scaling our support for young women-identifying entrepreneurs. By connecting entrepreneurs with tools during the beginning of their business journey, we're able to anchor their success on a solid foundation, and help them achieve their goals." 
  • Anne MacPhee, Chair Edcan: "We received tech donation applications from deserving schools across Canada, which revealed the alarming inequities faced by too many students, particularly from marginalized communities. We commend Desjardins for contributing significant resources for the tools necessary for student success and we're thrilled to continue to work with them to bridge this persistent equity gap."