The Facts Behind Youth Unemployment Rates:
We’re constantly hearing things in the news about new jobs being created by government-funded programs and by large corporations. There have been numerous programs and initiatives to create new jobs, to help young people find work, and to decrease the unemployment rate. Yet the youth employment climate is in the midst of a crisis. The Canadian youth unemployment rate is now 13%, double that of the unemployment rate for workers of all ages. So what’s going on?
There are many different factors that play into this dire youth unemployment rate. One of the biggest factors is the disconnect between unemployed people and unfilled jobs. There are a number of industries going through a labour shortage in Canada, but these industries are often inaccessible to the majority of unemployed people who are looking for work. Many of these jobs are in very specialized industries and specific locations. Many unemployed people, especially youth, don’t have the skills needed to do these specialized jobs, or aren’t living in the right place.
Approximately 23% of Canada’s young workers are underemployed, meaning they are not getting enough paid work or are not making the best use of their skills and abilities. Many recent college and university graduates are over qualified for their jobs, but are forced to work in low-skilled occupations, making less money while still having to pay off student loans.
So what should young people today be doing to get ahead?
The days of going to university, getting any degree, and expecting to graduate and immediately find a job in your field are long gone. That reality was once true, as university degrees were lucrative, highly sought-after, and not all that common. Today, more people are going to university than ever before, leading to even more competition in an already saturated job market. To help yourself stand out, increase the likelihood of getting the job you want, and to open more doors for yourself you need to do something differently than everyone else.
Understand all of your options and choose a pathway that’s right for you!
Not everyone should go to university. Some people are much better suited for a career that requires more hands-on and practical learning instead of the theory and research-based learning that happens in universities. Maybe a college diploma or an apprenticeship is a better match for you. This sort of training provides useful, real-world skills and knowledge that can be directly applied to specific jobs. Even better, many of these jobs are in demand, such as construction workers, skilled trades people, and front-line health care workers. It’s extremely important to understand your personal strengths, interests, and abilities, and to choose a career path that matches them.
There are many things you can, and should, be doing to set yourself apart from the thousands of other people applying to the same jobs as you. Employers highly value experience and work-related skills, yet many new graduates are relying on their education to get them the job. This common dilemma applies: I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience, but I can’t get experience because I don’t have a job. To break this difficult cycle, you need to get experience. This can come in many forms: volunteer with an organization related to your field, join clubs and associations that do work in your industry, and get a part-time job while you’re in school. The skills and knowledge you will gain from these experiences are often transferable to other careers.
Lastly, you need to get to know people! Networking is key in today’s market. The more people you know, the better! Talk to your friends, acquaintances, family members, colleagues, teachers, etc. Let them know what you’re looking for. Chances are, some of them will know someone who can help you. Also, conducting informational interviews and job shadowing someone in your field of interest will help you make connections, learn about the job, and gain relevant information.