From the perspective of a high school senior during university application season…
My peers and I, the Millennials, have grown up with the idea that a university education is the sure-fire ticket to a good job. However, times have changed, and those mindlessly pursing a degree (especially in arts) will slowly sink into the realization that their diploma might not be enough.
“After graduating, one in three 25 to 29 year olds with a college or university degree ends up in a low-skilled job.”
-CBC Generation Jobless Documentary
GENERATION JOBLESS, a documentary shown in my economics course, explores the idea of “education inflation” and the increasing number of university and college graduates in Canada that end up being underemployed. Young people are either working easily replaceable jobs, or for free as unpaid interns, simply to try t0 get their foot in the door. Directed by Sharon Bartlett and Maria LeRose, this film shows the jobless reality that the current generation faces and that my generation will have to face.
With the baby boomers and the new medical advances, my peers and I are competing with our parents’ generation for a small pool of jobs. Many are continuing onto graduate schools, meanwhile incurring more debt. Globalization and technological advances have reduced the demand for labour. Automation, computers, and outsourcing trends are replacing thousands of jobs at a time. As discussed in class, it is much easier to put off hiring young people than to fire older workers. Seniority rights are a huge issue in many fields of work, especially in the teaching profession. (Mr. Kenny’s struggle with only securing courses across Ottawa eight years after teacher’s college is absolutely ridiculous!)
The documentary interviewed Andrew Karam, a University of Ottawa engineer graduate. Despite sending out over 100 resumes, he has only had 2 interviews in the last 8 months. Canada’s education system is also compared with that of Switzerland’s, whose youth unemployment rate is 2.8% – the lowest in the developed world. We are the only country in the world without a national body responsible for education. In addition, economic experts such as Francis Fong, Armine Yalnizyan and Dr. Paul Cappon discuss their takes on potential causes and solutions of the issue.
- How has joblessness affected your field of interest?
The documentary interviewed three young females, all with art degrees, who are underemployed as restaurant servers. Jobs opportunities for those with an art education are limited, and many require luck or an enormous amount of talent. Although I enjoyed Ms. Check’s anthropology, sociology and psychology class, I would not consider going into this field. The film also explained that technology companies are not creating new jobs to match their huge net worths. Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon and Twitter combined employ just 20,000 people. Therefore, I have decided to apply for degrees in which there will always be a demand, such as accounting and health care. Because of the baby boomers, those who work in the funeral and old-age care industry will more likely be successful. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website also writes that the following occupations and industries are emerging:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Clean Technologies
- Financial Services
- Information and Communications Technology
- Life Sciences
- Entertainment and Creative Cluster
I am interested in the financial services sector. In addition, the college and apprenticeship have rapidly growing employment rates. Therefore, it is a path I should consider.
2. Review your career interests in Canada’s Labour Market Information. What specific careers are you interested in?
I am interested in a healthcare related career, and in particular, medicine. Currently, I am involved with a variety of volunteering and leadership roles in the healthcare area (eg., Raven’s Youth Troop, friendly visitor at Queensway Carleton Hospital). In addition, I find that the human body is a phenomenon that is extremely fascinating to study. However, the gruelling long years of schooling is not desirable. From the graph below, the employment level percent change is bumpy, but is always at a positive percentage.
I am also interest in the area of finance, and wish that there was a course dedicated to the topic in high school. Potential careers that I am considering are a financial analyst or a financial manager.
I have also researched the general employment characteristics of the two fields on Canada’s labour market website and found that the unemployment rates of both are extremely low (1.1 % and 2.9%.) The male to female ratio is also even and therefore I do not need to worry about gender discrimination.
- Have you found any governing bodies promoting job creation in this field? What do you think the government can do to help with this crisis?
There are healthcare governing bodies such as the Medical Council of Canada, Ontario Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians which promote job creation in the medical field. For instance, the College of Family Physicians of Canada represents more than 30,000 members across the country and is responsible for establishing standards for the training and lifelong education of family physicians .
Governing bodies such as Canadian Banks Association, Certified General Accountants of Ontario and Certified Management Accountants of Ontario promote job creation in the finance field. For example, the Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 60 domestic banks, foreign banks and foreign bank branches operating in Canada.
The documentary explained that often, companies complain they cannot find young people with the right skills. One way that the government can help with the crisis is to improve the education system by focusing skill training. The documentary uses Switzerland’s education system as an example. Dr. Stefan Wolter, Director of the Coordination Centre For Research In Education, explains how all levels of government, educators and employers, work together to ensure that education and training are linked to employment. There, only 20 per cent of students are admitted to university, half as many as in Canada. Most start three-year apprenticeships at age 18 anywhere from factories to banks.
In addition, the government should implement The University of Regina ’s employment guarantee approach to all universities across the country. There, each student is assigned a career counselor while in school. If a student has graduated and is unable to find work in 6 months then he/she is allowed to come back to the university for another year at no expense. This extra year is used to give them knowledge specific to their desired career field to help him/her further in the employment process.
- How can you gain experience to set you apart from your peers?
Co-operative education is a great way for students to gain real work experience while being paid. I have researched and placed an importance on programs that offer co-operative education (eg. the University of Waterloo). The opportunity allows students to test skills learned in the classroom, and to expand their knowledge through related work experience. Because the positions are supervised and evaluated, students are able to receive feedback to help them in the workforce later down the road.
An internship is another way to get on-the-job training in professional careers. However, you must not fall into the trap of becoming a “serial intern” like those mentioned in the documentary at Remote Stylist.
Lastly, summer jobs in the field where you want to study present opportunities to network. Through the people you meet at the workplace, you may get access to industry events or information seminars. All these activities will help you develop industry knowledge, contacts, and awareness of any opportunities that come along.
5. What technological skills can you build that would help you in this field?
Although the fields that I am interested in are not technology related, technological skills are essential to any job. As the world is becoming more digital, Office Suite Skills, knowing how to create, edit, and modify documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, would help me succeed as a physician or a financial analyst.
Other computing skills such as efficient typing and internet search are also important. Employees need to communicate to everyone in their job, including co-workers and clients/patients. Finding credible and relevant information online is essential to decipher quality material.
Proper usage of social media for work and connecting with others in my future profession are only becoming more relevant. Physicians are life-long learners, and must be aware of the news in the medical world everyday.
Taking a few courses or working towards a minor in an information technology field would also help students in their fields, as careers in this field are some of the fastest growing in the country. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer system analyst jobs will grow by 25 percent over the next 10 years.
After all, “generation jobless” is a description of my peers and I.
And who wants to end up like this?