The employment picture for young Canadian workers is a cause for concern, as too many remain unemployed or underemployed. Underemployed workers are those who are part time but would prefer to be full time. In addition, a significant percentage of the nation’s “twenty something” population has simply given up searching for employment all together.
Political and business experts including Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff have charged governments, educators and others to come up with a solution to this growing crisis. As noted by Yussuff in discussing young workers, “We owe them better than this.”
A Statistical Snapshot
A recent update from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey shows the country’s unemployment rate at 7.0 percent and its rate of underemployment at 14.7 percent. Among the 15-to-24 year age group, these rates essentially double, to 13.3 percent and 20.4 percent respectively.
Additional analysis reveals that:
- Of Canadians between 20 and 29 years old, 42.3 percent live at home versus only 27 percent in 1981. Yussuff commented that this negatively impacts how much their parents can realistically save for their own retirements. This is evidence of the profound economic consequences that could stem from the young worker employment situation.
- The Conference Board of Canada notes that the nation’s employers spend $688 per employee on annual on the-job-training. This compares with $1,071 in the United States.
- In May, Canada gained 55,000 part-time jobs but lost 29,000 full-time positions. During the 12-month prior period, there was a net gain of 112,000 part-time jobs. As of May, more than 1 million Canadian workers were underemployed, the highest number since 1997.
- The unemployment rate for those who have been landed immigrants for less than five years stood at 12.4 percent. This indicates a need to assist this population segment in its job search as well.
“The fact is, Canada has fallen far behind. It’s time to walk the talk and for governments to provide deliberate labour market strategies that will allow young people to find full-time, meaningful work,” said Yussuff.
Diminished job security, growth in temporary and part-time work, record debt levels and rising costs for food, tuition and housing have earned the young Canadian working population the nickname “Generation Nixed.” In addition, it appears far less likely for many of them that they will one day retire with company pensions than did members of their parents’ generation.
What’s the Solution?
It will take further awareness and a cooperative effort between government, education and business to address Canada’s employment concerns among young workers. Experts are calling for:
- Increased government incentives for employers who hire and train young people.
- Workers starting as early as possible to gain work experience, contacts and skills.
- Canada studying systems in Germany, Switzerland and other nations that have strong worker co-op and apprenticeship programs and whose employers work closely with schools and universities.
- Canadian employers beefing up on-the-job training.
- Parents, teachers and guidance counselors placing more value on the skilled trades as a secure, well-paying career option.
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