• Generation Z and millennials experience more psychological distress
  • They are less likely to start a business
  • They're more likely to seek higher education

Montreal, January 29, 2021 - Generation Z and the youngest millennials are beginning to enter the labour market. While their participation rates and education levels are higher than previous generations, they're less likely to start a business. They also experience more psychological distress and anxiety disorders than their elders. These findings and more were revealed in the From one generation of young Quebecers to another economic viewpoint published today by Desjardins Economic Studies. The report examines the social and economic factors that have influenced the last four generations.

The report showed that while the university graduation rate for 25- to 34-year-olds jumped from 5% in 1960 to 32% in 2018, interest in entrepreneurship is rapidly waning. It dropped from 80% in 2016 to 67.9% in 2018. With the pandemic dragging down outlooks for multiple sectors, young people who are already less inclined to entrepreneurship may be even more reluctant to start their own business. This pandemic will have profound and lasting consequences.

It should also be noted that one third of millennial and Gen Z adults experience high levels of psychological distress. The current, albeit temporary, pandemic is a significant stressor that will have long-term effects on the mental health of Generation Z and millennials.

In light of these findings, Desjardins wants to remind people of the various programs that could help the younger generations deal with the challenges they're facing.

"By April 2020, it was clear to us at Desjardins that young Quebecers were having a particularly tough time. Schools were temporarily closed, cutting off contact with their friends," said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group. "This was especially concerning, since we know that one third of all young people were already reporting higher levels of psychological distress than those aged 30 and over. Commitment to young people is one of Desjardins's top priorities, and we will continue to support them though a number of youth-focused initiatives, as well as through our initiatives to stimulate and promote entrepreneurship."

An expanded role for Guy Cormier at Academos

After becoming the first Academos sponsor in 2020, Guy Cormier is continuing his involvement by taking on a mentorship role. He'll talk with young people about his experiences and listen to their concerns about their careers and the rapidly changing job market. Academos is an organization that connects young people aged 14 to 30 with professionals in the workforce, who share insights about their careers and answer questions through a free app.

Psychological and legal hotline for members 30 and under

For some young people, the isolation created by the current situation has lead to psychological distress. Desjardins wants to support its members aged 30 and under in these trying times, and has been providing psychological and legal assistance by phone since April 2020.

Desjardins Foundation will offer scholarships for career shifts and returning to school

The Desjardins Foundation will award $2M in scholarships this year. In addition to scholarships that reward staying in school and helping communities, a new category is being added this year to help young people who are changing careers or returning to school because of COVID-19. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the level of study. Candidates can submit their applications from March 1 to March 31 through the Desjardins scholarship platform at www.desjardins.com/scholarships. Their applications will also be considered for scholarships offered under different Desjardins programs, like those offered by individual caisses.

Programs and partnerships that support young entrepreneurs

Desjardins has launched a number of programs throughout Quebec to support and encourage budding entrepreneurs. In addition to providing financial support, these programs provide guidance and coaching to help young businesses thrive. Here are a few examples:

OSEntreprendre Challenge

Desjardins helped to sponsor the newest component of the OSEntreprendre challenge, Doing Business Together. This section rewards businesses that are changing their purchasing practices to prioritize Quebec suppliers. When companies choose to buy from each other, Quebec's economy prospers. Entrepreneurs have until March 9 to apply.


This program helps young entrepreneurs who are starting a business or have been in business for less than three years by providing coaching, mentoring and financial aid in the form of loans and non-repayable grants. Créavenir is for young entrepreneurs between 18 and 35 who don't have money for a down payment or the collateral they need to qualify for traditional financing. It provides young entrepreneurs with the support they need by helping them find assistance and guidance available in the community, and by offering financing that's adapted to their needs, without the usual requirements. The program also provides financial leverage that makes it easier to qualify for traditional financing and other loans and helps young entrepreneurs build their credit history and financial reputation.

Adopt Inc.

Adopt Inc. is an entrepreneurial contest that allows young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 to focus solely on developing their business for one year. During this period, up-and-coming entrepreneurs receive financial support, coaching and training. Since the one-of-a-kind contest was created, six entrepreneurs have been adopted by Desjardins executives.

Desjardins relief measures will continue to be available to members and clients

As the situation remains precarious for many, Desjardins has extended its relief measures. Members and clients experiencing hardship will continue to benefit from payment deferrals on their Desjardins financing products and a reduced interest rate on their Desjardins credit cards. They can also request personalized support as they regain their financial footing. Between March 16 and December 31, 2020, Desjardins received more than 340,000 requests for financial relief. More than two million auto insurance clients received a discount on their insurance premiums during this time, totalling $155 million.

For more information (media inquiries only):

Joëlle Noreau for Economic Study

Senior Economist

418-835-2450 or 1 866-835-8444, ext. 5562450


Public relations for relief measures
514 281-7000, ext. 5553436