RBC helps youth prepare for the future of work

A campaign supporting the bank's largest-ever CSR initiative aims to show all Canadians the potential impact of a "quiet crisis."

RBC has launched a new campaign to support its Future Launch program and tell all Canadians that under-skilled youth is an issue that affects everyone.

Future Launch is a 10-year, $500 million initiative first announced in 2017 to help young Canadians get the opportunities and training to prepare for the future job market.

In addition to internal employment and research programs, much of the funding is going towards supporting programs that address broader issues, such as retraining programs for aboriginal youth or addressing skills gaps in certain regions of the country.

Mary DePaoli, EVP and CMO at RBC points to a raft of statistics showing current education programs are not preparing young people for future job markets. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada has the second-highest post secondary education rate among member countries. Yet according to the parliamentary budget office, 40% of youth are underemployed. Canadian Policy Research Networks says roughly a quarter of Canadian youth are overqualified and not working in jobs at the level for which they were educated, and OECD says nearly one million are not currently in any program to fix that.

“It’s a quiet, looming crisis,” says DePaoli. “Youth are incredibly under-skilled, and all of this is happening during a period of profound economic and technological change. They’re at risk at ending up poorer than their parents.”

For a new campaign in support of Future Launch, a hero spot shows the sizable, innovation-focused tasks that youth entering the job market will have to tackle, from developing artificial intelligence to finding new cures for disease. With that tall order ahead of them, the commercial ends with one of the youth stating why this is an issue: “we’re not prepared.”

The TV spot first aired during the closing ceremony of Winter Olympics, just ahead of the full campaign launch last week. Working with agency BBDO Canada, the broader campaign also includes digital, print and social executions, as well as signage and displays in its 1,100 branches. The bank is also engaging with its 85,000 employees, encouraging them to use their own networks and social channels to get the word out about the work the program is doing.

The hero spot for the campaign is purposely focused on the youth issue, not what Future Launch is specifically doing. DePaoli says that was a result of RBC’s pre-campaign research, which revealed that there were vastly different levels of awareness for these issues across Canada.

“Knowing that we’re spending half a billion dollars over 10 years, we felt that groundwork was necessary to engage Canada and set the magnitude of the issue,” she says. “From there we can begin to talk about what our solution could be.”

Creative was also developed so the message would resonate with a mass audience and convince them that it is an issue that will affect all Canadians, whether they are themselves looking to enter the job market or not. “That includes parents, employers, academics and government,” DePaoli says.

The financial investment is the largest the bank has put towards a social cause in its history.