Surviving Youth Unemployment

Why it’s not impossible for young people to get jobs in a baby boomer’s world 

By: Tiffany Narducci, Staff Writer
“You are graduating into a big, black hole” – A sentence my professors repeated on a depressingly regular basis to my graduating class.

As a journalism student in the 21st century, my fellow classmates and I were being constantly reminded that our field of study was drastically changing – schools were struggling to update their curriculum, jobs were scarce, and career paths were no longer as predictable as they once were.

The fact is, this vacuous, career abyss (as described by my teachers) is not only limited to the field of journalism – across the board, graduates all over Canada have been struggling to breech the boundary from student to employee.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, youth unemployment (which covers ages 15-24) has been hovering at 14 percent, and has discouragingly made little progression over the last five years. Last month, the youth unemployment rate in Canada rose to 13.8 percent, from 13.6 percent in May – nearly double the national average.

While the harsh economic climate has meant that many young Canadians have been struggling to break into the workforce, it has also left many baby boomers trapped within it.

Older generations, now struggling with less than satisfactory pensions and a volatile economic climate, are increasingly remaining within the workforce for longer periods of time. Further, according to Statistics Canada, when young applicants come head-to-head with their older counterparts in these contests, they rarely get the upper hand when it comes to who will get the job.

Though these statistics may seem all doom and gloom for those currently bracing themselves for the unemployment supernova, don’t despair just yet – there is still hope to be had.

Although boomers may be holding onto their jobs for longer, they are still considered an aging workforce that employers are actively seeking to replenish.

“It’s incredibly important […] to keep building our talent,” says Marilyn Reddick, VP of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, one of Canada’s top youth employers. “One of our goals is to invest in our staff, it’s very important to have that balance.”

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