The new underclass

Why a generation of well-educated, ambitious, smart young Canadians has no future


Chad Hipolito

Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer. She chose a vocation that, by unanimous opinion, represented a path to steady employment—teaching English as a second language to the thousands of immigrants pouring into B.C., a good many of whom, the experts predicted, would be making their way to Victoria, where she grew up and wished to make a home. That was back in the early 2000s, when opportunities for the young and industrious appeared unlimited. A rewarding career seemed within reach for all.

Cullins’s degree in applied linguistics was the gold standard of ESL qualifications. But she graduated in the thick of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the entry-level position she imagined would launch her career never materialized. Governments cut back on language transition programs. Resumés piled up in recruitment offices. Her calls to program directors went unanswered. “For me, that was a huge blow,” she says. “I had almost perfect performance reviews from my practicums, but I couldn’t even get an interview. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me?”

She took temporary work to support herself—waitressing, schlepping lattés, baking cupcakes in a family friend’s café. She volunteered in an ESL classroom in order to beef up her C.V. Yet the weeks slipped by with nary a callback, and when she got pregnant 2½ years ago, her dreams took a back seat to necessity. She took another stab at finding work in her field when her son Liam was old enough for day care. But by then, incredibly, the job market had worsened. Now, with her husband, Benjamin, doing contract work for the B.C. forest ministry, the 28-year-old wonders whether she’ll ever attain a comfortable, middle-class life—a house, college funds for the kids, money left over for retirement. “I have no pension plan. My husband has no pension or benefit plan,” she says. “We’re renters in one of the country’s most expensive cities, and we’d like to someday own a home. Once you have kids, these things really start to worry you. You’re always thinking, ‘Will I ever get ahead?’ ”

Many in Cullins’s age bracket are asking themselves the same question. In Canada, as in the U.S. and Europe, workers in their 20s increasingly find themselves wandering the perimeters of their chosen careers. Youth unemployment in this country reached 15.2 per cent during the recent downturn, the highest level in two decades. Yet the top-line number fails to capture the depth of the problem. It turns out that most young people are working—typically in jobs well below their levels of qualification, and often outside their fields. Those lucky enough to get a toehold in their chosen professions have a hard time getting enough hours or pay to support themselves, statistics show. Yet they forge on, from unpaid internship to dead-end contract, giving the lie to depictions of a shiftless generation addled by an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

Read: The Million dollar Promise, Why a university degree may be worth less than you think

Labour-market experts refer to this as underemployment—a gross mismatch between people’s skills and the jobs employers wish to fill. Even as young workers scramble for work, they note, companies are complaining about a shortage of engineers, technicians and other skilled tradespeople to fill positions in industries ranging from health care to mining. The problem is poorly understood because it arises from a constellation of forces: the decline of central Canada’s manufacturing sector and the union jobs it sustained; relentless cost-cutting by corporations; the demographic bulge of older workers occupying high-skilled, well-paying positions; parents who pressed their kids into university, hoping they’d get prestigious, white-collar jobs; and universities and colleges who indulged that urge despite the changing demands of the labour market. “We’ve injected more human capacity into the system,” says Rock Lefebvre, the vice-president of research and standards with the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, “without a growth in opportunity for them to respond to.”

The result is a growing pool of well-educated twentysomethings scrapping it out for a limited number of prized positions—a cohort one might describe as history’s most cultivated underclass. Yesterday’s stereotypical B.A. bussing tables now has a law degree. Or a B.Comm. in finance. And while he’s not exactly roughing it—fully 42 per cent of Canadians between 20 and 29 are living with their parents—frustration is clearly setting in. “People talk about the entitlement of the millennial generation,” says Diana Bailey, a 24-year-old advertising student at Toronto’s Humber College, who has found nothing better than an unpaid internship to sustain her after she graduates this spring. “But in most cases, the only option that’s being offered to us is indentured servitude.”

The warning signs were there for anyone who cared to look. At last count, in 2006, nearly one in four young workers with a university education was toiling in a job that didn’t require a degree (the proportion is believed to be higher now, following the recession). Some 6.4 per cent of Canada’s total workforce—1.2 million people—now consists of part-time workers under 30 who wish they could work full time.

Equally troubling, university-educated Canadians experienced a relative increase in unemployment between 1997 and 2005 and a corresponding dip in relative wages, according to a federal government study. By contrast, those with a college, or even a high school education, managed to improve (or at least maintain) their outlook, relative to other workers. In fact, the only group that experienced a similar relative increase in unemployment during the period were those Canadians without even a high school diploma.

It all goes against the narrative that’s been drilled into young Canadians over the past few decades: a university education is the ticket to a good job and a comfortable existence. While many have dutifully followed that advice (university enrolment has more than doubled since the early 1980s), even those lucky enough to land a decent job can’t afford the rising entry fee to the middle class. Saddled with student debt, they face a world where buying a house seems like an improbable dream—the average selling price of a detached home in Toronto was $722,393 and $904,200 in Vancouver in December—and employers increasingly expect workers to pay for their own retirements. That’s not easy when you don’t have money. A survey by the Bank of Montreal found that only about 10 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 had given any thought to retirement planning.

Bailey says it’s as though the promise of a comfortable life was held out before her, then jerked away at the last second. “My generation is told not to expect the stuff our parents had, that there’ll be no job security or benefits,” says the 24-year-old, who left English studies at the University of Toronto because she thought Humber’s four-year advertising degree offered a surer route to employment. “Intellectually, I can understand that might be true. But I can’t imagine what it looks like.”

She contrasts her plight to that of her dad’s parents, blue-collar workers who nevertheless lived in an era of optimism. “They had families and a nice, comfortable life with nine-to-five jobs and vacations in Bermuda,” says Bailey. So did her parents, who had fulfilling careers with the City of Toronto. Bailey herself has found nothing better in her field than an unpaid, 14-week internship, which she can’t take because she needs to pay her rent. “I don’t know if I’ll ever own a house,” she says ruefully.

It wasn’t always so bleak for Canada’s youth. Wayne Lewchuk, a professor of labour studies at Hamilton’s McMaster University, grew up in Windsor, Ont., and recalls that many of his university buddies took assembly-plant jobs with Chrysler and Ford after graduating in the mid-1970s. The work wasn’t great, but it paid well and the benefits were good. “If you’re measuring life purely by your material standard of living, then they’ve had a much better life than I’ve had,” says Lewchuk, who instead went back to school to pursue two more degrees. “They started working 10 years before I even got my first paycheque.”

Of course, most of those automotive jobs are long gone. So are many other relatively high-paying factory jobs in Ontario and Quebec. They are casualties of globalization and Canada’s subsequent shift toward a “knowledge-based economy”—one that’s built on providing services instead of forging things out of plastic and steel. At the same time, the global commodity boom that began around 2003 refocused attention on Canada’s vast resources, particularly oil and gas. But despite the billions poured into Alberta’s oil sands, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that Canadian workers, collectively, are no better off. The CGA study, for example, suggested the proportion of workers employed in industries with above-average earnings declined between 1991 and 2011, despite strong overall growth in the economy.

Wages are only part of the picture. Unions, once the guarantor of a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, have shrivelled as employers cut back on pension and health care benefits in a bid to better compete in a globalized market. Indeed, the very concept of a gold-plated, defined-benefit corporate pension plan (which guarantees a certain level of retirement income) has all but disappeared. A recent study by the debt-rating agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service, found that as many as two-thirds of North American defined-benefit plans are underfunded. Many companies are pushing new employees over to less costly and less comprehensive defined-contribution plans.

Job security is also increasingly scarce. Stung by the 2009 recession, employers in industries ranging from retail sales to information technology are preoccupied with building a flexible workforce that can be upsized or downsized to match the peaks and troughs of the economic cycle. A recent survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that 65 per cent of U.S. corporations cut jobs since the last recession, and that nearly half planned to use more part-time or temporary workers as business returned. Canada has experienced a similar rise in temporary and contract work over the past 15 years, according to Statistics Canada.

Lewchuk describes the cumulative impact of the changes as a “hollowing out of the middle” of the Canadian job market. “There’s been growth at the top—there’s more good, white-collar jobs than there used to be—but we have fewer middle jobs, and more bad jobs,” he says. “So the problem now is if you get one of those bad jobs, even out of university, there’s no middle rung for you to go to. The next step up is a good job—being a lawyer or software engineer.” Needless to say, the leap from sales clerk to a triple-digit salary isn’t a short one. “I think that’s what some of these kids are experiencing when they come out of university,” says Lewchuk. “They’re stuck in that bottom tier and they’re just not seeing a path to a better job—ever.”

A cruel irony for frustrated young job seekers is that Canada is actually in the grips of a massive labour shortage. A recent survey of employers by recruiting firm Randstad Canada found that nearly two-thirds were having trouble finding highly qualified people. Why, then, aren’t young, educated Canadians being courted by employers at every turn? Mainly because they don’t have the skills corporate Canada is looking for. The culprit, according to business leaders, is three decades of parents and teachers extolling the virtues of a university degree, encouraging youth to become doctors, lawyers or teachers. Meanwhile, the economy has been busy stamping out new jobs in all sorts of other industries. “There’s a big gap between what people like to study in school and what the market demands,” says Jan Hein Bax, Randstad Canada’s president. He points to the high demand for engineers in the oil sands and other resource sectors: “While we’re seeing more people with university degrees, they don’t necessarily have that sort of background.”

The problem is particularly acute in the skilled trades. A recent report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggested that industries like health care, advanced manufacturing, mining and business services are all facing shortages of skilled workers. Taken together, those industries represent a full fifth of all Canadian jobs. The proof is in the numbers. Unemployment in those industries stands at just over one per cent, compared to 7.2 per cent for the workforce as a whole, according the report. Wages paid to workers in those sectors are rising at an annual rate of 3.9 per cent, while employees in other industries are seeing no wage growth at all.

In an effort to close the gap, the federal government is planning to bring in as many as 3,000 foreign skilled workers this year by de-emphasizing the university-educated and focusing instead on welders and electricians. But a longer-term solution would ideally involve Canadians filling some of those vacant jobs. Sarah Anson-Cartwright, the director of skills policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says a first step is to combat the stigma still attached to skilled trades. She suggests promoting college and apprenticeship programs more actively in high schools. “Because of the demand for these jobs, people who discover them go on to earn really decent incomes,” she says.

It will be easier said than done. Young people aren’t blindly enrolling in university because guidance counsellors told them to. They’re taking a calculated risk. With employment becoming more temporary and offering fewer long-term benefits, many are, quite rationally, opting for a similarly flexible approach to the job market. “The risk of these trade jobs is that technical change comes along and wipes your trade out,” Lewchuk says. “That doesn’t happen to lawyers, doctors and academics.” The risks are further compounded by the fact that few companies are willing to pay for retraining, or, increasingly, any training at all. A study last year by the Conference Board of Canada found that investment in employee training among Canadian companies has fallen nearly 40 per cent since 1993. “We’ve done things to ourselves that perpetuate this problem,” argues Lewchuk, pointing at Ottawa’s revamped foreign skilled workers program. “This has an impact on employers who are saying, ‘Why should I incur the cost of training someone when I can plead poverty and get someone from Mexico or Brazil to come and do the job at a lower wage?’”

Economists say the market will eventually sort itself out. Wages and benefits in the trades should become more attractive as desperate employers try to woo new workers. Universities will be compelled to overhaul programs to ensure more graduates find work—a key statistic that helps keep enrolment up. In the meantime, young people who are currently unemployed or stuck in go-nowhere jobs may have to rethink their approach. Those who are willing to relocate and build on their degrees—either by attending college or completing an apprenticeship—will find plenty of attractive opportunities in a range of growing fields, says Anson-Cartwright. “There’s a real need for continuous learning. There won’t be lifetime jobs for young people. We’re all going to have to come to grips with that.”

Tom Pinnington counts among those unwilling to sit on his hands. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 2011, the 23-year-old from Ottawa quickly realized the value of his degree in history and political science—or lack thereof. More useful, he says, were the interpersonal skills he’d honed waiting tables at high-end Toronto restaurants while going to school. “That’s always been my strength,” he says. “Now I’ve just got to find a way to use it in a way that’s conducive to success.” To that end, he’s working two jobs—at an Ottawa bistro and an outdoor-wear store—until he has enough money to start his own restaurant.

“Do I wish that I could be in a job that allowed me to research history and make a good living? Absolutely,” says Pinnington. “But when have people been able to get into a job that is directly pertinent to what they studied?” To him, a middle-class lifestyle is something one goes and gets, and he’s not worried by the prospect of never having a pension plan or never owning a house. “So far, I’ve been able to take care of myself,” he says. “I hope to be able to do so in the future.”

Cullins, too, excels at working with people. Yet after four years of underemployment, the Victoria native doesn’t share Pinnington’s optimism. Openings in her profession come up from time to time, she notes. But internal candidates get first dibs, and she worries about the growing gap on her resumé between her graduation and the present. She hasn’t given up. After having her second child last fall, Cullins is looking into a distance-education program in social work, so she can enhance her degree while chasing a job. “But I feel like I went through four years of education to get what I thought were very practical qualifications,” she laments. “I worked my butt off. Now it looks like it wasn’t enough.”


The new underclass

  1. I think a lot of people are finding that the prospects for their career of choice looked a lot different when they were applying for the program than now, as they’re graduating. When I applied for my master’s, people in my field were getting snapped up by the federal government recruiting program. It seemed like a great decision for someone who wanted to live in Ottawa with a secure job and a pension plan. Well, look how that’s going now with the public sector freeze and layoffs. When I graduate in April I’m going to have to seriously consider relocating from southern Ontario to northern Alberta – and I’m incredibly lucky that there’s still one place in Canada where there’s a chance I’ll find a job in my field.

    • The public sector is a parasite on the economy, the private sector creates wealth.

      • You know of course that the public sector is cops, firemen, teachers, mailmen, health workers…….?

        • Well duh………..and their salaries, pensions and benefits are out of step with the private sector, but more importantly is that all branches of the public sector, federal, provincial and municipal are overburdened with too much in the way of administrative personnel, in some cases their numbers equal or are greater than the front line workers.

          • Heard that all my life….in both the public and private sectors. It’s just another way of sneering at ‘pencil pushers’ as compared to ‘real workers’.

          • You’ve only heard that?

            Get out of your cave EO.

            Seems like most people have seen it for themselves.

          • I’m 66 ‘Billy’….be serious.

          • That’s a long time to be without daylight.

          • If you’re not interested in being serious….fine.

          • to turn what is a complex problem into finger pointing at a single issue (that you haven’t demonstrably shown is in any way connected) shows that you are the only one in a cave Billy

          • Very apt handle you have

          • I am not sure that ALL salaries of public sector workers are out of step with the private sector. In the US, healthcare workers are largely private sector and their pay is pretty much comparable if not higher than ours is in Canada. Given that there is a global shortage of health care workers, it really is market driven. I guess you can look at services like healthcare, policing and education and those who provide them as ‘parasites” but they are a necessary expenditure because it would be nearly impossible for a society to function in their absence unless you have some idea how that would work. I definitely agree we are “overburdened” with administrative personnel in these areas. It seems where I work in healthcare, they are constantly moving people out of the front line into administrative roles where all they do is attend meetings. We have fewer and fewer staff to care for patients and more administers to detail how we should do the job with fewer staff.

          • I live in the Southern US, and am not familiar with conditions in Canada. However, it seems that we face some similar problems. When I was growing up our town had three policemen, a police chief, and a dispatcher. Thirty years later, the town population has doubled, and we have thirty four cops. The police cars are brand new, and you rarely see only one car. The cars follow each other on calls. Interestingly, the population is now much wealthier than it was back in the day. We have little crime. Why do we need all these police?

          • Review the most prosperous years of this country’s growth. The middle part of the last century is characterized by strong employment in government sectors and strong union in the private sector. Unrestrained capitalism has NEVER generated wealth for the majority of the population, not here NOT ANYWHERE

          • And unrestrained growth in the public sector has also run its course, and can no longer continue. So the growth will need to come from elsewhere. The federal government still has more employees than it did just five years ago. That number was allowed to get way too big and now we’re all paying the price. Some of Canada’s most impressive growth happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s while the federal and provincial governments were downsizing.

          • how exactly are we ‘paying the price’? the problems noted in the above article would not be de facto solved by having a smaller government. did you even read the article? we’re talking about several factors here, from the crash in 2008, to a mismatch of skills needed/available workers, to the automation and/or outsourcing of PRIVATE sector manufacturing jobs that have virtually disappeared….how is any of this solved by downsizing the government?? You know one thing that does disappear when you cut the size of government? Subsidies for the very post secondary schools that allow people a chance to get a decent college or university education…the market, though perhaps efficient, is vicious in its workings and needs to be tempered by strong government to keep our infrastructure compassionate. unless you’d like to be more like the states, they seem to be doing really well

          • I didn’t realize I was presenting a solution for anything. We’re in a tough spot right now, and I don’t have a clue how to get out. The only thing I can do is speculate on how we got here, and maybe if we know that, we can avoid doing more of the same thing. Too much debt, both public and private, seems like a pretty good culprit to start with. Debt can spur growth, but only to a point. After that point, debt becomes a burden, and makes the economy – both at the macro and micro level – more fragile. Expanding the public service beyond what was necessary probably wasn’t a very smart thing to do. And yes, we are paying for it now.

          • It’s not their fault the private sector exists to screw people over to maximize profits.

          • You don’t know what you are talking about.

            I worked in the public sector and it pays far less than the private sector. AND the public sector pays far more in other countries for the same job.
            Public employees pay and make contributions for all their benefits. In addition, they do not get to collect all the pension they contributed to plus CPP like the private sector gets to – it gets clawed back. Also, Federal dental and all that SUCKS.
            Stop with the pathetic whiny myths. Don’t confuse the PM’s office and the majority of the public sector workers who live paycheque to paycheque.
            As for the private sector – they are more top heavy with their money leaving only a few truly wealthy and not sharing with the rest. The public sector redistributes the wealth and provides services we need and want.
            You are a typical nonsense complainer. You want the gov’t to give you what you want when you want it but you don’t want any public servants. Explain the logic in that. They already don’t have enough staff to open mail or answer phones. But the PM’s circle is expanding. Get your facts straight and stop blaming the majority that we need and who serve us well.

        • He prefers employers that will more likely abuse their employees, profuse greed, and no pension after giving away your youth.

      • My family members who work for the RCMP, Public Safety, and Foreign Affairs will be so glad you said that and resign their posts immediately. Have fun when the terrorists show up.

        • ………and their salaries, pensions and benefits are out of
          step with the private sector, but more importantly is that all branches
          of the public sector, federal, provincial and municipal are overburdened
          with too much in the way of administrative personnel, in some cases
          their numbers equal or are greater than the front line workers.

        • The RCMP ARE the terrorists.

    • Oh puleese

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Is there tundra in northern Alberta?

  2. Hur durr, no future = better have kids. That’ll help your situation!

    • This is not about the individuals characteristics. If you had read the article closely, you would realize that the people featured were star students, and with great performance reviews. This article is about the larger picture, the socio-economic conditions which harber such phenomenon. These people are hard working and have put a lot of effort into thier education and increasing their job prospects. The situation is much more complex than simply blaming the individual and telling them to simply be better.

  3. Ahh the victim complex. I’m sorry this bright young woman made a bad decision. I’m not sure making another bad decision of having kids without a secure foundation was respectable. A young person makes two rather large bad decisions, and this is news? This has gone on since the beginning of modern society.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Read the last paragraph of the article. She has learned NOTHING and is heading back to university to get another useless degree!

        • wow social work as a useless degree. do you ever know what a social worker does?

          • This comment was deleted.

          • I am sure that the legions of people who have benefitted from the good work that social workers do would like to respectfully disagree with you. Obviously your perception comes from some sort of negative encounter, but it’s outright predjudiced to paint an entire profession based on it.

        • Oh my, no YOU read the last paragraph: she is taking a PROGRAM, not a degree, via DISTANCE EDUCATION, if you actually know what that is. She’s just a young mum trying to revive a struggling career. Moreover, Maureen, there really is no such thing as a useless degree; you would understand that had you ever pursued higher education. Mind you, some degrees are currently more marketable than others.

          • I’ve got a PhD and work in a field where my PhD is directly useful. I have no sympathy for those that get useless degrees and then complain about it. Get a degree because you are passionate for the field or because we have a shortage of them. We have no shortage of these folk.

          • “these folk.” Hahaha. Be careful: karma has a way of biting the smug on the butt.

          • I am sorry to say it patchouli but you sounded a bit “smug” when you suggested that Maureen would understand better is she “ever pursued higher education” so it isn’t very fair to chastise her when she points out that she in fact has a PhD.

          • True, but my smugness was in response to her original smugness. So now we can all chastise each other (do you really think a PhD needs you to berate me on her behalf?). Smug on.

          • I don’t have the pretentiousness to be smug…remember I am one of those “cowgirls” from Alberta. Maybe, I can just act as referee until it is time for me to go shovel out the stalls.

          • Assuming of course she isn’t talking through her touque.

          • Different Maureen, but this Maureen who left the original comment does have a Master’s Degree in Adult Education, has worked in post secondary institutions (both colleges and universities) and for the last 20 years have been self-employed assessing the outcomes of programs (and making far more money that I ever would have if I stayed employed in colleges/universities).

          • maureen, in fairness, she’s pursuing a social work program and there is a shortage of social workers in some parts of Canada. I work in Continuing Education and, though social work doesn’t pay fantastically well, it is a needed service that usually results in steady employment. Kindly get off your PhD high horse.

          • Tell me where there are jobs in social work. We have a family friend who graduated 2 years ago currently working at Pizza Hut.

          • Back to your cave

          • let’s keep in mind that when people make the decision to get this or that so-called “useless” degree they are usually all of 18 years old. Maureen I’m so glad that you were so elegant in your labour market predictions when you enrolled in university! Even if someone gets their BA and then realizes they may need to retrain / change fields, not so many are financially privileged to be able to do so. We are talking about the decision making capabilities and financial capacity of 18 -22 year olds. Naive but not criminal! Why should they be damned for life?

          • Come now…you are not “damned for life”. If you are only 18 when you make the decision to get a degree, believe me when I say you have a lot of living still to do and you haven’t made a terrible decision. You haven’t committed some horrible crime or anything. What I would suggest as someone who has been in a few situations where things haven’t been great, look at the risk/benefit of staying where you are versus making a radical change in your life. Go to a recruiting company that is nation wide (I know of one – David Aplin Recruiting) – register for anywhere in Canada and see what happens. If you open yourself up to all the possible opportunities and don’t limit yourself to geography you might be pleasantly surprised. No one is saying you have to accept any offers. Just have a look at what is available some place else.

          • I was commenting on the fact that many young people are being condemned for choosing the wrong degree, not condemning them myself!

          • So you are not really serving coffee person at Starbucks?

          • There are more useless degrees than non-useless ones. Universities have become major leaches on productivity and society. Not so much learning goes on there as programming and listening to a bunch of outdated or simply erroneous opinion, if not outright brainwashing. I basically had to unlearn every thing I learned in university before I got anywhere in life. Experiences of many others are similar. University has become a horrifically outdated and outmoded means of preparing youngsters for the future. Most would be better off avoiding it.

          • There is no such thing as a useless degree.

            But keep it up….and Canadians will all end up working for the Chinese.

          • And of course, more sociologists, psychologists, political “scientists” and other “oligists” will prevent that from happening. Somehow. You’re certain of that. Seems we’re already graduating a lot of unemployables – read the article. I don’t see the current universities helping much. Your solution? More universities. The definition of insanity is…… well, you know the cliche.

          • No we aren’t graduating ‘unemployables’….what we have is a lot of people who are uneducated. 42% of Canadians are functionally illiterate.

            Yes we need more universities….it’s the Knowledge Age

          • Actually I have a master’s degree in Adult Education and have worked at colleges and universities so I think that I just know a little bit about the state of post secondary education.

            You can call it a ‘program’ all you want, but the odds are very, very good that it is part of a degree (particularly if it is in social work) – it may be an after degree certificate, but that point is that she is doubling down on a process that didn’t work for her in the first place. I suspect that she is like a lot of university educated unemployed individuals – she still has an image in her head that she is entitled to a white collar job in her dream profession. That’s not going to happen and the sooner she accepts that the better she, her husband and kids will be.

            Here’s a suggestion, since she is already committed to two kids, why not open a day care in her home which would allow her to be with her own children each day, earn money, provide an actual service to her community, and be in control of her own life. I realize that being a day care operator might be a step down, but it would help solve her immediate problems. I know several women (and one guy) who did that and they are glad they took that route and they have no end of potential clients (in fact they turn away more and more moms and dads seeking day care services). Is it hard work – yes; is it glamorous work – no; are they proud of it – as one said, once I realized that I was earning good money, damn right I’m proud of my work as a ‘babysitter’!

          • Maureen, I work in Continuing Education too and I respectfully disagree. Unlike a general humanities BA, a social work degree (yes, it’s a degree, so what?) does have currency in today’s economy. we’re all impressed that you’ve been able to create your own job that makes you so much more money than if you had stayed in universities, but the reality is not everyone can be an entrepreneur and, for someone looking for a means to upgrade their education so as to find better employment opportunities, Social Work is not a bad choice at all

          • Actually I would encourage her to become a psychiatric nurse instead. It is almost the same job if you chose to work in community BUT the money is much better and there are LOTS of job opportunities. If she gets her RN designation, she can work worldwide….there is actually a global shortage. She could even live in Australia.

        • Would you prefer her to give up on work entirely and not even bother trying to get a job? Nice to see a welfare fan in the house.

          • Everyone always thinks everyone ELSE’S degree is useless.

      • I think that many people would like to live in a beautiful city with lovely weather and the ocean close by. That is likely why this lady doesn’t have a job and her husband is working contract. Sometimes it is necessary to move to a less ideal location to get a full time job and save a nest egg. Sometimes you just have to lower your expectations. If having said that, makes me judgmental, so be it. However, it doesn’t make it less true. Life isn’t fair. We can’t all live in paradise and work at our dream job. Some of us have to live where the work is.

        • Hello, HI, the person I was responding to is criticizing her decision to have children. Easy to judge that after the fact and in this situation; clearly she was married and felt more stable when she was having the kids. I certainly agree that life isn’t fair and that we all have to move forward. I guess she believes she’s moving forward by protesting and lending her face to the EI issues that are about to hit the Atlantic region. I also acknowledge that people have to change their lives sometimes, but I do empathize with her; it would be difficult, expensive, scary to move by oneself, let alone dragging along a child, uprooting a family from its home, school, friends and relatives. It is only lovely weather on PEI in summertime; otherwise it’s isolated and quiet and very rural. I rather think the least expensive and upsetting route would be for her to get a loan or something and buy a reliable vehicle. She does have to work, and I wish her well instead of slamming every decision she’s made years ago.

          • I certainly feel her pain. My parents moved 11 people (the 2 of them and the rest were children) and a whole farm across the province when their fortunes went financially south. My husband lost his job when i was 9 months pregnant and we had to sell our house and move to a different city BUT in the end it was the best thing that ever happened to us. I think you sometimes have to realize that you are better off to uproot because your fortunes lie elsewhere. Right now, these young grads should move west. They don’t have to stay here forever but there is sooo much opportunity.

          • I’m in SK and I’m not sure I see the same level of opportunity you see, despite our government rhetoric. Places are closing, usually a sign things aren’t really that great. But your personal reflection makes me ask, in a totally non-smug way: how would you feel if you told that story and someone commented your parents showed bad decision-making because they had 11 kids? I see some sensitive soul had my first very popular comment deleted — my vulgarian ways, using the word “arseholian,” I guess. But my point was, why judge after the fact? I too am no stranger to hard times in adulthood, but I agree: sometimes that horrible thing that happened ends up being the best thing ever. Life!

          • Yeah, the linguistics grad could have taught ESL in Japan, China, Korea for a year or two before returning. Those countries are looking for such people. With global experience she’d have been ahead of the crowd.

            But she didn’t.

            Canadians tend not to go abroad for experience or knowledge….they want the job to come to them….with terms they set.

            So now she’s paying for it….but it’s too late to rectify. No point jumping on her for it.

          • I have gone abroad, gained experience and came back. In my experience, it’s not any better with the international experience.

          • Perhaps it’s your…cough….English.

          • Given that my work actually involves producing material that is published internationally, I kind of doubt it. I don’t hold myself to the same standards on an internet board as I do for work, though. Also, I have to say, it really seems like a bit of a silly thing to ‘call’ me on.

          • Well, you gave me little to go on, so for all I knew you were a ditchdigger and doing that abroad wouldn’t make a toss of difference. LOL

            However if your work normally involves producing international material….GOING abroad isn’t likely to make it better.

          • Mm, yeah. The job I was referring to (I have 2 other jobs on top of that one) essentially involves doing PR and other various ‘communications’ work for an organisation that’s involved in cultural and language promotion. In terms of the language promotion, that’s certainly localized that, but the PR and communication skills are transferable. The experience I gained over there was invaluable, and I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get it in Canada, but even after 4 years of experience internationally, I’ve been unable to find a job here. It is a fairly saturated market unfortunately. I may end up heading back overseas if I can’t find anything here, but honestly, I really love living in Canada. I can’t imagine living on a long-term basis in the country I was in. I don’t really mind *where* in Canada I end up, but it’s very slow going.

          • Well I can understand your frustration, but just speaking Mandarin alone should get you a translator’s job given our new urge to trade with China! Cultural knowledge is a bonus. If you’ve been to China, then you should be able to work either end.

            Canada isn’t a very sophisticated country overall though, so perhaps abroad for several more years will be a bonus

          • I didn’t jump on her. I just said she could make a choice to move to get a job.

          • I didn’t mean you in particular….everybody was jumping on her decisions, and I just said, yes she could have done a lot of things, but she didn’t…and it’s too late to rectify.

          • My parents HAD to move or we wouldn’t have eaten or had a roof over our heads. When I said finances went south….I meant really south. They couldn’t pay the mortgage on their farm. I guess people feel bad that they can’t get a job in their chosen career…..try not being homeless with that many kids. I am just saying you can be interviewed for a magazine and lament; you can suffer in silence in your current situation or you can move to change the situation. The choice is yours. You will live with the results of your decision, no one else. Either take a risk or don’t. However, to pretend this didn’t happen to my generation or my parent’s generation is untrue.

        • Strangely enough, it takes money to move. Esp. with children. If you spend all your money moving and the job still doesn’t materialize – then what?

          • Uh Keith, the trick is to apply for jobs in a new place and GET one before you move! I would never suggest that her husband give up his contract job and move to NO job. If you are moving to a place with a shortage of workers often times the new company will even PAY for your move. Because Fort McMurray is in a boom BUT they have environmental oversight, they need forestry people like her husband. There may also be jobs for her in Alberta. They could both register with an Alberta recruiting company.
            All I am suggesting is that you have to open to the options available and sometimes relocating is the best thing to do. However, one doesn’t go off half tilt with no concrete plan. The other thing is that it might not be wise to move your entire household belongings. Maybe you rent a furnished place for a while, sell some things and store some stuff so that the move is much cheaper. That way you aren’t breaking the bank getting to the new location.

          • This makes more sense than your first post. I totally agree with this. Thanks for clarifying.

            It still requires a job offer though; I didn’t see anything in the article to suggest she wasn’t looking elsewhere. Her preference to stay in Victoria doesn’t mean she hasn’t been looking farther afield. My then-wife & I would have preferred to remain in NL way back when, but she was offered work in ON…

    • Despite your view on her actions, I have full respect for her decision to have kids while she is in her 20’s. Society has indicated that we need to marry and have kids late into our 30’s or 40’s so that we can focus on our careers. I am in my mid 20’s now, and fortunately with a good job, and I plan to have kids soon with my wife! I commend this young woman and her husband for taking risks. Something I am sure you have no clue how to do.

      • im confused. you claim to be a man yet you also claim to be wanting to give up your lives to have kids. i understand women have this hormonal desire (my wife did, we got a dog), but men? seriously, if you think children will improve your life, you have a pretty depressing life.

        • Speaking as a guy who once thought much as you do but who has a wonderful daughter – you don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

        • I think you misspelled your name there bud, there should be an ‘n’ where you put an ‘m’

          • I was thinking much the same thing. The desire to have a family is a symptom of a depressing life? What kind of narcissist would make a statement like that?

    • We may have made a “bad decision” by going to college, but how were we to know that? We’re told our whole lives that going to college/university is a necessity to having a good job and life. We’re told our whole lives that we can do WHATEVER we want as long as we put our minds to it. We get the education, we put our minds to it, we graduate with honors and then we’re kicked out the door into a world that won’t hire us.
      Maybe you could explain why our parents generation were able to get great jobs without an education and now that our “parents” are in administrative positions, they’ve saddled on all sorts of additional education requirements that they never needed. Then, when we get said education, the overwhelming response we get after submitting our resumes is “Sorry, we’re looking for someone with more experience.” There are no entry level positions.

      This isn’t a victim complex, we are victims. We’ve been given the bait and switch by our guardians and educators. We were driven down what we were assured was the path to success and now that we’re adults responsible for our own futures, we realize that we were mislead. We’re left to pick up the ball that was dropped for us and now people such as yourself say we’re playing the victim.

      You’re part of the problem. Blaming us for being lazy and entitled when many of us are quite the opposite.
      I’ve been working outside of my intended industry for 5 years now, working full time during the day and working on a personal project at night which will hopefully launch me into my chosen profession. Let’s hope that when I apply next to a job, my prospective employer doesn’t immediately dismiss me because it’s been now 6 years since I graduated.

      • You may not be able to live where you live now and work in the industry you trained in. Sometimes it is necessary to relocate, at least for awhile until you get experience in YOUR industry.

        • If you can’t get a job and are strapped down with high student loans, how do expect people to afford to relocate? It is a no-win situation.

          • As I said to Keith, the plan is to secure a job BEFORE you move. For people with university degrees, the ideal thing is to register with a recruitment company that has offices in multiple cities in the country. I can think of one off the top of my head = David Aplin Recruiting. Because the employers pay these companies to find them employees, it costs you nothing.

            Further, you don’t have to move EVERYTHING. Often times if you are single, it is best to just move yourself and move into a “shared apartment” situation”. Likely the person who has the apartment will be well set up. 1/3 of the people living in Alberta did not originate here. They are from Newfoundland and other provinces. Most did NOT bring their belongings with them. That makes the move MUCH cheaper. For a family person, it is wise for the bread winner to move out ahead of the rest of the family and secure places to live prior to them relocating. I know you guys find this hard to fathom but people with a two year power engineering diploma are making over $50.00 dollars an hour and are advancing up the pay scale very quickly due to extreme shortages in that field. It is just one of many that is flourishing.

      • You are quite right about that. I was pushed in that same direction 25 years ago, and trust me, it didn’t work out any better for me than for today’s college grads. Yet 25 years later, I am astounded that parents and teachers are still advising kids to “go to university”. It’s beyond absurd. Hell, you can’t blame the kids for doing what they’re told they must do. I always tell the youngsters I talk to that if you know for certain that you want to be a doctor, nurse, teacher, social worker, optometrist, dentist, pharmacist or similar, by all means go to university, get good marks, and get into the program. But if you’re “not sure” what you want to do, don’t waste your time there. Getting a degree in the humanities or social pseudosciences (they’re not real sciences), is probably the biggest waste of time you will ever engage in. And certainly the most expensive. The worst part is the effort you must put in after you graduate obtaining something approximating actual education (i.e. an understanding how things really work, as opposed to what your tenured prof told you).

    • Used to be having a family wasn’t a “bad decision”, it was just part of life.

    • The best short response by far.

  4. We don’t need whining lefties with Liberal arts degrees, we need skilled trades, people who are willing to work and contribute to the economy.

    Go back to school, do an apprenticeship, become a plumber, electrician, carpenter, equipment operator, etc.

    • LOL there’s that ‘plumber’ thing again. Never fails.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Gosh….whose going to employ all these plumbers you claim we need?

          • Not everybody wants to be a plumber, Bill. Especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

          • What’s with the fixation on plumbers?

          • Everytime the topic of education comes up on here….about 4 comments into it, someone will talk about this mythical plumber who makes $100K a year, because we really need plumbers!

            So it’s become a joke line for me.

          • That’s not a myth, nor is it a joke.

          • Yeah, it’s a myth….and a joke.

            And I’m sure you know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a plumber….or you have this nephew etc….so don’t bother. Been there, done that.

            Point is….we don’t need a country of plumbers, or electricians or trade in general. A society needs all kinds of people….doctors, teachers, astrophysicists… let’s stop the class envy sneering at people who do other things.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Yada yada…..take the Bubba ‘tude elsewhere.

          • Even apprentices need someone to hire them. An employed tradesperson is not the same as an apprentice, who needs someone to hire them so they can get their certification. Lots of apprentices and pre-apprentices in Toronto can not get someone to take them on. They will chose to hire the certified tradesperson rather than having to train an apprentice and deal with all the certification paperwork.

          • Yes, the willingness of companies to actually invest in training has gone right down the toilet. Yet they whine incessantly about a lack of skills. How those skills are supposed to just magically materialize without any effort on the part of employers to offer OJT is something they haven’t bothered to explain. Probably because they’re too busy lobbying the government for more foreign workers and immigrants.

          • Yah, and they don’t want to put any effort into training. They’d much rather lobby the government for more immigration and foreign workers. Seriously, with a skills shortage, does it make any sense that corporate training budgets have fallen 40% in the past decade? (That’s what the article says.) Listening to businesses whining about a skills shortage while they cut back on training is starting to grate on me.

          • Most of the so-called ‘labour shortage’ is in relatively low-end service industry jobs. There will always be a ‘shortage’ of folks to work at minimum wage at the Golden Arches. There will always be a ‘shortage’ of folks in the personal care/elder care industry at the relatively low wages offered. But once you move into the realm of job for university grads, even in Alberta or Saskatchewan, they are few and far between.

          • Have you tried to get a plumber lately in Ottawa? Took me 3 effing months to get one in here last year, and he was an incompetent clown who made it clear he was going to overcharge me as he felt the job was too small for him to bother with. He acted like he was doing me a favour, despite not doing the job correctly. I had to get a friend in to fix it after. I suspect that will change when the housing market finally tanks, and a lot of these plumbers making huge money doing substandard work will be shaken out (I hope). But right now they’re raking it in. You could do one hell of a lot worse than a plumber. With the iffy housing market, it’s probably a little late to get in that game, but the ones in it right now though are making off like bandits.

    • Maybe you should go back to school in order for you to learn how to read. She picked her degree based on demographic projections of immigration.

      • Not on the number of people going for the same degree.

        • Should be on the market for the degree….and ESL has a market in the millions.

      • And obviously that was the wrong metric to use. Not a critical thinker.

        • So, O critical thinker – what WAS the right metric?

          • Don’t count on government to provide you a living. Except if you work in health care. How many years have provincial governments been saying that health care is taking up a larger proportion of the budgets each year. That means everything else will get smaller.

            Also don’t believe a word that educational instructions tell you. First they don’t have a clue, second they are selling something. I’ve talked to many young people who say that the college told them that all they needed was to take a course and they would be ready top walk into a good job. Sorry.

            Essentially this article is describing people qualified for things no one will pay them for.

    • Great idea! Now if you can just loan the money to get that new certification (government will almost never issue you a new student loan until you’ve paid off the first one) everything will be great for young people!

  5. I am not sure an ESL teacher and a gov’t contractor would seriously be looking to own a home in Victoria under any circumstances (not that they seem able to buy in a nearby cheaper community either). Aside from that I have sympathy for their all-to-common situation. And if the best example the authors could find of “an ambitious young fellow undaunted and ready to go out to get success” is a guy who is like “I have mad waitering skillz so I must be able to have my own restaurant”, the just under 30s are in bigger trouble than we have imagined.

  6. Tried getting into skilled trades.. ZERO apprenticeships in Ontario.

    So, all that talk about needing skilled trades is all a lie. If there was any call for trades, companies would be jumping at the chance to hire apprentices. Instead they “claim” there are no positions and then hire someone from another country for half the wage they would pay a Canadian.

    The skilled trades labour shortage is a fantasy.

    • Have you thought about relocating? Alberta has a lot of jobs for trades people.

      • Apprentices? Or do you already need to have completed the training? The article is pretty clear that few are wiling to invest money to train, esp. if they can import the already trained for less money.

        • There are incredible shortages of electricians, power engineers and the like. What I would suggest is to investigate the opportunities because there are lots and lots of really excellent paying jobs and opportunities. Young people are able to work on the rigs, etc.

          • So someone who has already graduated with big debts, spent months job searching and making little (if any) money to live off of and certainly not repaying anything, is now supposed to pay to go BACK to school and retrain? OSAP will almost never grant a second loan to this type of person.

          • They don’t hire apprentices. My old roommate was laid off of his apprenticeship and wasn’t able to get another one soon enough before it expired. Now he’s working in a warehouse.

          • They want fully trained people or half price foreign workers, not people looking to learn.

            Also working on the rigs is a miserable experience that involves 0 skill for the most part. Have you ever met rig pigs before? Book learnin’s ain’t what they got and ain’t what they need.

            If you’re willing to work in dangerous conditions ranging from 30+ to -30 and cap out fairly quick (at a solid $35/hour) then the rigs are your answer.

            Not if you want to have any quality of life or work-life balance though.

          • Do you have any idea what youa re talking about?? My husband is a “rig pig” & we live quite comfortably. He started at the bottom but now makes over $180 000 a year. I’m quite satisfied with our quality of life. He has done a lot of training/schooling while working on the rig to improve his position, all paid for by the company. Oh, and did I mention, he only works 6 months of the year!

          • Did you miss the part about employers cutting job training more and more in the current economic climate? How old is your husband? What do you do for employment? Do you simply live off of the rig pig’s earnings? Have you ever been in the position of a university graduate struggling to find gainful employment? What about a post-millenial university graduate struggling to find gainful employment? I’m glad you have sooo much to contribute to this discussion, what with your vast knowledge of modern canadian economics and employment

          • Again… if they are looking for trades people and you don’t have a trade, unless they are willing to apprentice then you’re outta luck.

          • What if you are not the type of person who wants to work in an insanely dehumanizing environment? (ie. the rigs!)

          • Then starve.

          • Oh yes, who wouldn’t want to work in -45 degree weather?

          • People who want to eat work where there is work.

      • Ontario also has lots of jobs. Mining in N Ont alone is very short-handed.

    • I believe there is a genuine labour shortage. Companies are reluctant to hire and train apprentices because they fear that when the end of training comes. Unfortunately our education system in Ontario does not accommodate or encourage this option.

    • The point is that companies want SKILLED tradesmen, not people who want to learn how to BECOME skilled tradesmen. Therein lies the difference. Corporations with record profits want to hire people who already have experience in the exact job for which they are in demand. But they refuse to consider anyone who may have great potential, just needs to be trained. That’s where the model has fallen apart. Corporations expect some other portion of society to train their workers. And society isn’t doing it.

      • Exactly. It’s the sense of corporate entitlement. Corporations want all the freedom, benefits and profits, without any responsibility.

  7. Since when did previous generations become the bestowers of a scorched and failed earth on the younger generations? Weren’t YOUR parents trying to be stewards of a better world for their children? I am sure not all of the baby boomers were entrepreneurs who made their own businesses and opportunities from scratch. Someone made opportunities for you. It’s crazy to call young people lazy and entitled for going to school and getting a degree (expensive and challenging) and then wanting to WORK! How does education and a desire to work equate to laziness?

    • No desire to not be told what to do and make your own way/create industry?

      • How are young people supposed to make their own way/create industry without money? In fact they have NEGATIVE money, a huge debt load and the government calling all day about when they’re going to pay it back. It’s nice to think about people being gosh darn industrious and making something out of nothing, but that is not the reality of our times. Especially when you are dealing with all the stress of making nothing and owing BIG BUCKS to the government. Gumption won’t feed you and won’t pay back your loans.

    • WWI. The Great Depression. WWII. Vietnam. Those were all pretty “scorched earth” by almost any standard. Today’s youth aren’t inheriting anything like that.

      • apples and oranges. we’re talking specifically about EMPLOYMENT opportunities and there were huge job booms after the Depression and both world wars. and don’t try to cry ‘scorched earth’ about vietnam, it had little to zero impact on the psyche of Canada and required nothing from its youth

      • Canada didnt fight in Vietnam…….

      • Previous generations made their money and used it to create industry and jobs. Wealth no longer circulates like that. Mitt Romney’s “trickle down” theory is laughable.

      • actually we are inheriting an entire mess.. If you haven’t realized, there have been wars all over the middle-east since the dawn of the word Terrorism.

    • The boomers stopped caring once they got old and realized they owned everything. They’re no different than the generations that preceded them, expect they expect my generation to work even more of our lives away to pay for their entitlements.

      • Wow, there’s a spoiled brat attitude!

        • But not altogether inaccurate.

  8. Young people shouldn’t be valued only by their place in economy- by that logic the elderly aren’t so great either. People aren’t worthless if they don’t have a “good” job. Many will never have one. Nice to have a little more recognition of the influence structural factors affecting youth instead of merely touting individual choice.

  9. The other issue that people don’t seem to get is that you can have all the education you want, but if you are not marketing yourself correctly to the very people in your chosen industry you’re gonna have a bad time. Sure she volunteered somewhere, but did she hustle? She could have looked into starting her own business, there are tons of immigrants with money coming over here that will pay for this sort of thing especially if she branched out and offered accent softening and Canadian culture awareness to help them integrate as seamlessly as possible.

    As an Employment Consultant I see this sort of thing every day. There are opportunities but no it is not like the good old days where you could bang out a few resumes and sit back in your chair with your hands behind your head and wait for the interview offers to roll in. Nowadays it all comes down to who you know. Employers don’t want to waste money hiring the wrong person, they feel safer with referrals and as a job seeker if you can’t be proactive enough to go out and meet people in your field and savvy enough to demonstrate your value – well good luck being the one in a million resumes submitted that the employer actually looks at.

    • thanks for the advice – NOT

      • Ciel is dead on. This is not something new – it has always been this way in almost every business and much of government as well. It is expensive to hire the wrong person into a job so references and connections do mean a lot in hiring the right person.

  10. I am in a similar position. I have a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, and a master’s degree that is practically geared towards policy development, which I had a full scholarship for. I speak Mandarin, I have had a job as a communications officer in a multi-national organisation for the past four years overseas. I have three part time jobs right now, and have had absolutely no luck finding working anywhere in Canada over the past 6 months. I have applied in all of the provinces, including the northern ones. Many of the jobs I’ve applied for are government jobs, which are slower to respond than the private sector, but it is still very hard. I’m applying for jobs where I fit the qualifications exactly; I’m applying for jobs as an administrative assistant. I’m not too proud to take any kind of job at this point. If someone from the trades offered me the opportunity to re-train as a welder, I would do that in an instant. Other people have mentioned that in many places, even this is not an option due to a preference for already certified people. I’m trying very hard to find full time, but right now, things are not looking good on that front. And it’s kind of sad, listening to my parents. They keep encouraging me and telling me that things will get better, but it’s hard to see how. Unless I completely retrain in a different profession, which would take several years at a minimum, I suspect I will have to keep grinding away with my part time work, which is freelance, so there’s no semblance of security there. I’ve given up hope, to be honest. I’m going to applying for jobs, but…what happens 6 months from now, or a year?

    • With your Mandarin Chinese speaking abilities, I bet you could easily get a job that outsources jobs to China.

      • Short of manufacturing which has already left Canada for the most part, there’s very little Canada *can* outsource to China, and many of those jobs are also leaving China to other east asian nations, such as Vietnam or are being increasingly automated. Foxconn, for example, is talking about replacing many of their Chinese workers with automation. So, no, this isn’t really a viable option. But thanks for the suggestion.

    • Have you contacted a recruiting company…like “David Aplin Recruiting”? They are nation wide and employers pay them to find them good employees. It is free for you to register with them. It is worth it for everyone to do so.

    • Sign up with recruiting companies…as many as you can and see if they can place you in a good job.

    • You’d be a Rock Star in China, Just Google “ESL Jobs” and post a few resumes. That was one of my all time best jobs, and I didn’t even have a degree at the time.

      • I’ve worked in China. I’m trying to find work in Canada for a reason. ;)

    • Maybe register with a headhunter who works with expats in China?

  11. I’ve finished a university education & further specialized with an additional college degree for working in institutions found in every city in Canada but I still can’t even get interviews or even responses when I inquire about what future opportunities there might be.

    Because they’re getting bombarded with hopefuls all the time. I’ve been to school, I’ve volunteered, I have glowing letters of recommendation, what more can I do when I’m being turned down for even part time call-in work or mail room jobs in my industry?

    People keep saying that I’ve got to apply elsewhere but they’re asking for 5 years experience to be considered for 14 week contract positions in BF nowhere northern Canada. How am I supposed to get experience when I already need it to get it?

    And even if they weren’t asking that, I’ve already given thousands of dollars and my youth in exchange for the possibility of gainful future employment but now I’m being asked to give up my home and family and everything I’ve ever known or cared about as well?

    I’m sorry but no. Call me entitled if you want but I never wanted to be rich, I just wanted to do something I’m good at and help people while not living hand to mouth. I don’t know if I feel willing to give anything more when so I’ve gotten nothing in return for my efforts.

    • What do you train to work in?

    • “People keep saying that I’ve got to apply elsewhere but they’re asking for 5 years experience to be considered for 14 week contract positions in BF nowhere northern Canada. How am I supposed to get experience when I already need it to get it?”

      Had the same problem in QC. Human ressources had the same training everywhere and stick the five years of experience requirement everywhere they can.

      • Apply anyway, without the experience. What have you got to lose? If they are desperate, they will train you.

        • Of course I applied anyway, I’m not completely braindead. Nothing will do, even if you actually have all the required skills. Things got better when I realised I needed to apply where I can directly reach the boss instead of facing the grinder of human resources but this is not a option for everyone everywhere.

    • Have to agree with you 100 percent! There myself, everywhere wants volunteer experience (eventhough my program did placement time in order to gain experience in the field, this time was not covered by OSAP, nor could I work because all my hours were put into placement time). Now graduated, you think work can be found? NO! Know far too many young Canadians with university and college education working at Wal-Mart or other minimum wage jobs. How are we ever suppose to pay off our student debts if finding employment is impossible? Nice to see there is a little more media coverage on this issue now, because there is a whole generation of us wondering what we are to do with ourselves?

      And, it’s not like we can blame the ones working in the positions we have applied for, because we are literally waiting for them to die off. It’s sad to think that people today are working until the day they die because retirement is impossible. Painful to think that I probably won’t even be able to take care of my parents the way they did me—because they will be working until the day they die, and me working a minimum wage job trying to pay off student debts until I die.

      Could not even imagine starting a family! The day I end up like the woman in this article is going to be the day I will have to apply to welfare. What a future us young Canadians have to look forward to!

    • ps. Katsujinken, all the best to you! I hope you find something in your field–will cross my fingers for you. Know how you’re feeling and it is the feeling of defeat after SO much hard work. Hang in there!

    • I want to clarify your post. You say that not way on earth will you move for employment? If that is the case, I have no pity for you. I would move anywhere in the world to look after mayself and my family.

  12. My job is barely within my field of education but it makes me enough to keep a roof over my family’s heads, food on our plates and clothes on our backs. My only concern is keeping things that way. My RRSP is woefully underfunded; I have little to no savings; and I have accrued debt that is proving rather difficult to pay off at the moment. Fortunately, I am by no means alone in my predicament.

    What comforts me are two things. First, I hold the firm belief that the forces that have brought my generation and me to this common conundrum will fall from their own greed and malfeasance; we will simply get our needs met through other channels, in the process drying up profit margins and endowments and credit systems and rendering “official” currencies obsolete. Second, even if our generation doesn’t decide en masse that the only way to win this game is not to play, the eventual die-off of the Baby Boomer generation will cause a rot in the system so profound and severe as to have the same effect.

    • Might happen sooner than you think. Printing money and creating more debt seems to be the only card the government has to play. That has never worked at any point in history, and it won’t work now.

  13. As a high school senior this makes me very glad that I switched my courses to a commerce, finance, science, business direction as opposed to arts when I was about fifteen years old. I also have maintained a 80-89% GPA, worked a restaurant job, and have volunteered since I was fourteen throughout that time. All the same it is not only worrying enough not knowing if you’ll make the cut for University but after reading this article… I really don’t know what to say… Any advice?

    • Dude, B. Comm’s aren’t getting much for work these days either. Even an MBA isn’t what it used to be. People make fun of MBAs now. It’s almost the new BA.

      • People make fun of MBAs because they have no relevant experience for a degree suited for junior executive positions(strategic administration position). when at the end of the day an internal candidate who’s worked in 7 different departments, since they started in the mail room, understands more then the MBA grad ever could.

        An MBA should never be a first degree. A lot of people at Starbucks with MBAs, wondering why they were not recruited out of university for there high GPAs to fill upper positions.

        • Good point, and entirely true. MBAs have become commoditized, like other degrees. A person who has many years experience and then goes back to school to get an MBA is no doubt a very different animal than one who takes the degree – MBA route right out of high school.

    • Do what interests you most. Seriously. If you enjoy math + science, though, I would consider doing engineering in university instead of science. Engineers are considered more employable, even if the difference in education is negligible. Maybe others could chime in on what fields to persue if you enjoy the arts.

      If you like working with your hands, go to a trade school and train in something that keeps up your interest there. Not necessarily something that people tell you there will be a need for, but something that you enjoy enough that you’ll want to keep learning about it and getting better at it throughout your life.

      • I thought about an apprenticeship but the whole issue of if a factory, mill, smith’s shop, moves what do you do came into my mind. I have no problem working with my hands though and I don’t mind being dirty. I really appreciate the advice but I have read enough personal finance articles to know that it’s better to have the money than to do something you enjoy. At least that’s the way I see it. It’s kind for you to say, “Do what you love” but when you don’t have your own money (my parents make me pay for my own movie tickets, school field trips, etc.. Due to financial reasons), have gone through a spell where as a teen your parents have been unemployed, and to do whatever you would want to do I would need to take out a loan to do so, looking at programs in the brochure’s is purely one of financial calculation. Like, I could say, “Yeah I did that because it’s my passion” but if it pays crap then what is it worth really? I may sound jaded in saying that but on my mind is seeing the struggles of parents, family, and friends for the past five years and since I don’t think the economy will be any better in the next five that’s the point of view I come from.

  14. STEM for the win, in yet another generation.

    Seriously, isn’t this Gen-X all over again?

    • Pretty much the same doom and gloom we were faced with in the early 1990s. Why the media acts as though this is a new problem is beyond me. Ask anyone who graduated in the early-to-mid 1990s with a useless degree (hell, ask me) and they’ll tell you prospects were no better then.

      • Exactly correct. The disaster that was Mulroney decimated job prospects for new graduates when I graduated (1992). I worked at various low-wage jobs for two years before going off to get my Masters. I believe the youth unemployment figures were as high as 25% after the trickled-on theory failed so spectacularly to work as promised (at least as promised to the non-rich). In the following years (maybe starting ~1995), new graduates were gobbled up like popcorn in the recovering economy, but there were some extremely lean years before that started happening.

        And now it’s happening again, coincidentally under federal Conservative rule.

        • The early 90s would have happened regardless of who was in power. Canada’s economy was a mess. If anything, Mulroney at least made some strides to correcting the problem. (Replacing the manufacturers tax with the GST for example.) We also had some monetary discipline at the BoC back then with John Crowe, Now we’ve got our outgoing (and positively heroic, if you believe the press) central banker talking about nominal GDP targeting and other such voodoo, completely erasing the concept of sound money in the process. We made huge sacrifices in the 1990s – first the enforced monetary discipline in the form of high interest rates in the early 1990s, then fiscal reforms and deficit elimination in the late 1990s – and ended up the better for it. Now we’re squandering it with zero interest rate policies, fiscal profligacy (both public and private) and flirtations with currency debasement and renewed inflation.

  15. So after all that she’s getting a degree in social work? Some people never learn.

  16. I think one obvious solution to this problem is to put a cap on enrollment in university programs that do not have logical connections with high-volume career opportunities Eg history, philosophy, geography, psychology, sociology, etc. I’m not knocking these programs, I just see thousands of students enrolling in them year over year with a very limited job market outside academia.

  17. It seems to me, that most people are doing it wrong. I am an ISA chief architect in Vancouver. I spent $20k on a useless SA diploma(I never completed), but I used that one year at BCIT to network. I met a start up for my practicum. I made a wager with the CEO to employ me if I could achieve X deliverables. I earned my first contract. I became a member of an ASF project to increase my global preasence, and started volunteering my time to lecture in my field (for free). I brought all this back to my CEO, and proposed a model to develop my own department and product. Now I work long hours in an effort to make partner. I earned it all.

    I am only 32 years old and spent 6 years working dead end jobs like RadioShack and Shaw. until I realized all I needed to do was make a plan, do the work, and seize the career. There are many people with Masters degrees wanting my job, and I am basically a drop out.
    The reason they don’t have it, is because they have no hustle, and no streat/life experience. They assume there knowledge squired means something. But the industries still prefer a hands on self taught and tested worker, who will grab contracts and prove their value. I have employees that just come to work an leave, and I know they are going nowhere. I need to look externally for ambition and vision. A combination rarely found in university educated individuals, yet often found in the survivor class.

    Just my two cents.

    Life is sales and relationship management, without those skills, no amount of education will help you. (tip: no one fresh out of university has these skills, these people are not attracted to university).

    • Nice, great to hear some positivity!

    • You are *so* right! Life is sales and relationship management. I never enrolled in university, but I did sneak into a few classes just to check it out. It wasn’t for me.

  18. During any economic recession, people find it convenient to blame immigration (not in this article but on other comment boards, even mainstream ones). That first example illustrates perfectly how this blame game makes no sense. Teaching ESL is one of the jobs that would be largely dominated by Canadian labour (and yes, some immigrants are fluent in English and can teach it but they are a small minority). If she can’t get a job in such a field, it’s clearly not due to “competition from immigrants” as so many people love to claim. Immigration has a neutral effect on the overall economic scenario right now.

  19. Why do so many young people feel that a house and retirement income is their right? People who were raised in the Depression were satisfied with enough food to eat and a clean place to sleep at night. Maybe all the rest is just extra. The secret to happiness is low expectations. I applaud young Mr. Pinnington who is not waiting for the world to hand him anything. He is reaching out and creating his own future.

    • We of the younger generation feel pretty bitter because we’re paying for the baby boomers’ retirement. We’re paying for their pensions and they spent years taking advantage of every opportunity that we don’t have. Why did the boomers get houses and retirement and we 20-somethings can’t even dream of that? It’s ridiculous.

      I don’t think expecting to be able to save up and buy a house is a high expectation, nor do I think that expecting to be able to retire at some point and enjoy the last years of our lives is a high expectation.

      • Enough about how the boomers are the source of all your problems. Canada (and the rest of the world) has changed and will continue to change. You’ve got to adapt as those changes come your way. Like the US Marines say: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome”.

  20. The rise of contract work is the main culprit here. It’s very hard to have loyalty to a job that you know is going to end in 6 months to a year. The constant threat of non-renewal inspires young workers to jump ship before contracts end, giving the appearance that they have no direction. Give these kids permanent jobs and things will turn around.

  21. I could not relate more to this article. After finishing my undergraduate degree I couldn’t find work and ended up volunteering and working for free so I would have something to add to my resume. After a
    year of living at home and not being able to find real work I did a
    masters degree to complement my undergrad, hoping to get a job with the
    government or an NGO. After graduating at the top of my class from a
    great school I still couldn’t find work and was unemployed or
    underemployed for almost two years, taking short term minimum wage
    contract positions that were unrelated to my field and well beneath my skill level.
    Eventually I threw myself into a completely different field, worked as a
    slave intern for free while I tried to get a foothold in a new
    industry. I was fortunate to even have this opportunity as students in
    this field fight to the death over unpaid internships. After the
    internship I realized that working 18 hour days and coping with
    incredibly stressful work was not good for my health and I ended up
    starting my own business. While I don’t make quite enough to live on and
    have to rely on my husbands income to get by and run a household – it
    is the only work I have been able to find that pays when I work hard at
    it. Forget vacations, 9-5 hours, pension or security. I’m just glad to
    be making money. After six years of post-secondary education I feel
    incredibly angry at the situation I face – that this generation faces.
    The fact that I could have done what I am doing now without paying the
    tens of thousands of dollars for university education is difficult to
    stomach. And the worst part of it all is when people in their 50s and
    60s look at me and say, “You have a masters degree and you’re doing
    what?” as if I’m some kind of failure. If only they knew the
    difficulties of our generation. If I were to do it again I would go to
    college and do a trade. And I certainly will be encouraging my kids to
    do the same.

  22. When I graduated in 1993 unemployment was even worse. Youth unemployment was 20% for men and about 18% overall. I worked every crappy job there was. First to pay off school debt and second, and most importantly, you never know who you will meet in a job that one day will benefit you. Working crappy jobs is a right of passage, and this generation is no exception. The only way you guarantee employment is to open your own business. The girl in the article…does she tutor young kids? She has a young child, she could get certified and open her own daycare. Does she go to ODesk and write articles for cash? No one is going to give you anything, you have to constantly be looking for opportunity. Then you need a little luck and then you might make it or you might not. To this generation, your time will come and remember you are not your job. A job shouldn’t define who you are.

  23. We need more women graduating from university with degrees in “women’s studies”. That will solve everything.

    • Ahhh sexism as a solution.

    • I think we clearly need to get some men enrolled in women’s studies. Sexism is one of the reasons that women have a tough time getting that good job. The glass ceiling isn’t glass – it’s made of a wall of ignorant men.

      • ha ha – good luck in achieving this goal with a herd of entitled, narrow-minded, testosterone driven cattle that can hardly comprehend anything beyond the tip of their own nose

  24. No discussion of immigration at all. You cannot discuss unemployment without discussing immigration. At this point, we must ask, why do we have any immigration at all?

    • Did you even read my comment below? Scroll down 3-4 comments and you’ll see it. This has nothing to do with immigration, as I already explained.
      The kind of jobs that most immigrants are currently filling up are not the ones Canadians are fighting for, and vice versa.
      Besides, Canada is a country built by immigrants and I don’t see why the fact you were privileged enough to be born in this great country gives you the right to shut the doors to others.

  25. No university degree. Started out in the bottom in IT. Made a little bit of money, used that to buy rental property. IT person by day, landlord by night, six digit income.

    Income is not about education, it’s about supply and demand. You can have a PHD in basket weaving, if no one wants basket weavers you won’t make a dime.

    • smart!

      • Humanfly, my story is almost the same. I graduated high school and started my own internet marketing business. With my profit and a lot of smart banking (the right debt, at the right time, for the right price), I accumulated a seven figure real estate portfolio. I’m 27 years old, and my car costs more than the homes my friends’ parents live in. Not everyone is hurting.

  26. I got my education, average at best, but always worked hard. Decided that if I wanted to work in my industry, I needed to work on my own account. After extensive market research, I co-founded my own business and it’s growing (age 29). Tons of work is going into it, still some uncertainty with contracting, but it’s worth it. Pay myself peanuts (enough for the bills and some outings, and a tiny bit into RRSPs), I work from home so the biz pays for a few of my necessities (part of the car (mileage incurred for the biz), cell, internet, some of my rent is a write off, etc). The fact that I’m constantly hiring freelancers means that something is going well.

    Can’t find work, make your own!

  27. I call bullshit. There’s a job for EVERY single Canadian, if you are willing to move to follow work and/or possibly re-train yourself to get your foot in the door of a different industry.

    The article talks about people not getting the prestigious or prized job they dreamed of, that’s life. Not many people end up in the place they dreamed of as a kid. Suck it up and retrain yourself into an industry that IS hiring.

    If that is not an option, utilize the research and writing skills obtained through higher education and develop a business plan. There are a TON of incentives for people in Canada under the age of 30 to receive grants and low cost loans to start your own business.

    • This article isn’t denying that there’s jobs, it’s saying that there aren’t GOOD jobs. It’s very hard to find a real career as opposed to a minimum wage job that barely pays the bills.

      A friend of mine has a teaching degree in history, sociology and geography and he had to relocate to Guatemala to find a job. His friend also has a teaching degree, speaks French and she, too, had to relocate to Guatemala to find a job.

      And this is not a rare occurrence within the group of people I know and care about. We’re all in our mid 20’s and so many of us cannot find jobs, no matter where we look.

      As for your comment “Suck it up and retrain yourself into an industry that IS hiring.”, for some, that isn’t an option. School is expensive, many are already drowning in student debt from their time at university and some people simply aren’t good at the sciences and math required for say, a degree in power engineering. It’s tough to be young right now and things don’t seem to be looking up.

    • To me, trusting Universities to give accurate statistics on graduate success and benefits conferred by a university degree is similar to believing cigarette companies extolling the health benefits of smoking. Both are self-serving businesses that thrive on people using their products that cost users throughout their lifetimes. The difference
      between them is that universities shorten your life at the front end while smoking curtails life at the twilight.

      • well said – I know this from personal experience, it is disgusting

  28. vacation in bermuda? these people are a spoiled joke. follow pinnington’s lead, you’ll be better off.

  29. I emigrated to Canada from the UK in 1994 hoping to become a police officer. Everywhere I applied turned me down because i was a white, heterosexual male. “Diversity” was the mantra for the (then) Bob Rae provincial government. White males were not welcome. I couldn’t apply for a job in the provincial or federal governments for the same reason. My degree in criminology was not recognised either, so I spend a decade working in security, or telemarketing. The young, smart, well qualified white Canadian males I worked with were in the same boat. They had fathers and uncles in the police or fire department that couldn’t help qualified members of their own families to get on board with the careers of their choice. Talk about soul destroying.

    And all this time, Canada takes in vast numbers of medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, and computer specialists from other countries who soon find out that their degrees and work experience are worthless here. So they end up driving cabs for a living, or delivering pizzas. At the same time, Canadian university graduates cannot find employment in their chosen fields.

    Tell me why we need so many “qualified” immigrants again?

    By 2004, so many Canadian coppers were retiring, police forces in various cities here could not find enough local recruits – thanks to cutting out an entire generation of white Canadian males from their career choice. Their “diversity” plans to recruit more visible minorities and GBLTs fell flat. So what did they do? They went to the enormous expense of travelling to the UK to hire hundreds and hundreds of British police officers to come to Canada and continue with their law enforcement careers here.

    And they are all white heterosexual males.

    Go figure.

    • I don’t feel sorry for you man – you are still a white entitled male – that is your biggest problem that will never go away

  30. After vounteering my evening as a guest speaker at a B.Comm networking event at UBC, I saw, firsthand, why young people are having such a hard time. I am in a position to offer paid internships and entry-level positions in marketing. I am – without a doubt – a good person to know, in the industry.

    Here’s where the disconnect happens: out of 150 attendees, only 1 person (a mature student who was about 5 years older than the others) approached me, during the meet & greet. The other speakers had similar experiences, despite the fact that we each represented a different specialization of the Commerce program.

    I know that networking, per se, is not taught at university; but could someone please teach these kids how to make the most out of these kinds of opportunities?

    Instead of introducing themselves to the industry person of their choice, they mingled with each other or just left. Any opportunity to make a good connection and – at least – have someone to call when they graduate was tossed away. I brought a box of business cards and left with the same (minus one). If this is indicative of what’s happening in other schools, in other programs and with other students, I can see why it’s becoming so hard to find a job. A real job search starts in first year (or earlier) by just getting to know a few people in the industry you want to join.
    That one student was smart enough to call me, when she graduated. My company wasn’t the right fit, so I talked to a few other people I knew and got her a great job with a global ad agency.

  31. Upon completing a Masters degree in healthcare in Ontario, I recognized immediately that there was an incredible job shortage for young graduates such as myself in the late 2000’s. I picked up what little possessions I owned (after 6 years of being a ‘starving’ university student, I didn’t own much) and moved to Calgary. Best decision I’ve ever made. While I do miss friends and family, my husband and I are way better off here than we ever would’ve been in Ontario. We both have secure jobs, healthcare benefits, job security, and a good pension. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and move away from your comfort zone in order to find that “comfortable, middle-class life”

  32. This is definitely the case in Ontario and BC, but Alberta is booming…

  33. I grew up in western Canada, completed a certificate in a business field, and had an office job soon after. However (against my parents’ wishes), I wanted a university education more than anything. I found that, living in a community based around resource extraction, people are sometimes ignorant of social/political issues (example: poverty, environmental problems).

    With a desire to know more about the world (in order to best contribute to society), I pursued an undergraduate arts degree and I’m currently working on a graduate degree (with the help of bank loans & scholarships). Based on my own skills, this is the right path for me, even if I end up renting for the rest of my life. However, I see many students who do not have the same enthusiasm for university. Personally, a one-year college program was not enough for me, but a 4 year Arts degree is not right for everyone either.

    While people do not “need” a university degree (their skills may be best used elsewhere), the critical thinking/awareness is so valuable. I’ve learned that many of my own opinions were ignorant.

    In order to have a more educated society, technical colleges and trade schools should adopt some of the universally useful lessons taught in universities. This would help to change the “stigma” surrounding careers in the trades.

    This type of education should be more prevalent in high schools as well. Many of my classmates neglected their school work, assuming that they would “just get a job in the oil patch.” There is more to being an active citizen of Canada than the career that a person chooses.

    * Also, I would love to see more physical components to “white collar” jobs. But that may just be wishful thinking!

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I really value the critical thinking skills and the awareness I picked up in university, and even though I absolutely admit that my BA is essentially useless, I do not regret getting my degree (but I am one of the lucky ones – my parents paid for my education, so I do not have student loans to contend with. If I did, I would think differently). I DID get things that I consider valuable out of the education, though of course it’s unfortunate that the workforce does not find those things as valuable.

      So I absolutely agree with your suggestion that colleges should “adopt some of the universally useful lessons taught in universities” – there is definitely not enough of that in colleges today, and I agree that it would reduce the “stigma” with foregoing university for a college or trade school. A mix of the critical and vocational with the practical would be ideal.

      • Why did she have 2 kids if her employment situation was dicey and her finances weren’t in order?

        • Sorry, meant to post that to the general thread.

        • While I understand the critism about having kids when you can not afford them I know the alternative is a lonely painful path. It’s really the only thing that saddens me about my prospects. I have come to accept the fact I will never own a home, retire and enjoy exotic vacations but accepting that being in a strong two working adult relationship will never be enough for me to have a child “responsibly” cuts a very deep pain.
          Most 20 something’s have no great futures ahead of them. They will need to choose between being bad parents or not being parents at all. Others will make their choices but I can’t accept having kids when I don’t know how to pay the power bill, and it saddens me. My family dies with me.

    • excellent! great attitude and courage for someone born and raised here (I presume you are Canadian by birth) – so different from your ordinary, boring, narrow minded and entitled Canadian.

    • Considering that many recent university grads are returning to community colleges to complete post graduate studies that teach them practical skills that employers are looking for, I find the suggestion a little funny that colleges should adopt some of the universally useful lessons taught in universities. The “universally useful lessons” that employers do not appear to be hiring for. The only university programs that I am aware of where students are graduating and walking into jobs are nursing and engineering. I’m not saying that critical thinking/awareness skills are not valuable but these days employers are looking for people who have specific skills that will have them up and running right out of the gate.

      Many community colleges partner with industry to develop fullsome courses that turn out very employable students. There are many careers and programs offered by community colleges that are in demand that are not “stigmatized” as dirty work associated with the trades. Maybe more focus should be made in high schools on specific careers/career paths.

      • My point was that while university prepares people for academic careers and white collar jobs, a university degree provides students with knowledge about politics/economics/social issues etc.

        Technical programs provide only the career without the additional knowledge. While I have no doubt that technical school graduates are highly employable, I think they could also benefit from lessons about how society works.

        Unfortunately, this is lacking in high schools as well. I completely agree with you that these lessons could be improved at a high school level, but I’m not just talking about career paths. For example, someone may be a welder in the future, but it is important that they understand the basics of “what exactly does liberal, conservative, and NDP mean in Canada” because they have the power to vote.

        University degrees have historically been considered the way to create “well-rounded” individuals. But, it would be fantastic if we could reform other education systems to produce similar results using less time/money.

  34. As someone who recently graduated, and is working in a full time permanent position in the industry I trained for. Why? I had to move to some middle of nowhere place (PS they required 3 years experience, but rural Canada is so scarce on workers, you’ll probably get the job if you apply).
    I have to say my generation wants it all; the job, the money, the perks, and all of it in the right place; no sacrifices. A number of classmates are not in similar positions; they work the casual-not-guaranteed-full-time route. Why? Because most of them don’t want to move or sacrifice any part of the ‘dream’ education supposedly promised us.
    I think if you aren’t willing to try relocating (or sacrificing some of the expectations promised upon leaving university) can you really complain?

    • Yes, western Canada and remote areas are the well-kept secret.

  35. This comment was deleted.

    • Some people simply don’t excel in science and math but they have brains. Your viewpoint is rather shallow and incredibly generalized. An engineering degree requires a physics credit, which I’m simply no good at, but I can assure you I’m intelligent and ‘have a brain’.

    • Use grammar and punctuation correctly, for starters.

    • I did Psychology and Biochemistry. What’s my problem then? This point of view is unbelievably biased and narrow-minded.

    • There’s huge amounts of engineering unemployment in Canada. My local telecom recruiter gets 50-100 resumes for a single job posting and position at a well known telecom provider in Western Canada. That’s 50-100 people with engineering degrees, sometimes multiple Bachelors or Masters degrees. The situation in the hard sciences (rather than engineering) is even worse.

  36. It really is about simple supply and demand. Interesting to see that many of the struggling ‘educated’ tend to come from the humanities. Really, how many more experts in Chaucer, poetry, women’s studies, philosophy, theater & etc can the economy absorb (or even use…No one can fix their car, their roof, or computer by quoting Shakespeare, Locke, or Plato to it)? We new parents of the GenX/Millennial generation must take lessons learned (like my lessons from my useless Linguistics degree) and bring up our children with realistic notions concerning education and return-on-investment (yes, I can feel the educated elite cursing at me for saying that). Living the ‘life-of-the-mind’ is the road to food stamps. We must ask our kids: how long do you want to live in my basement? There is no shame in not getting a 5-yr degree. A 1-year technical certificate can be the road to security. Become a maven in something society really needs…it can be the road to riches (refer to the IT specialists with a few certificates who we pay to fix our networks, computers, etc). First you need to eat, then when squared away you can go play (e.g. get your degree in philosophy if you so desire). I’m sorry – as much as I’ll love and support my children as best as I can, I simply can’t let run off a cliff thinking that their $40K degree in Medieval Lit or some similar piece of paper will be a road to success…at least not without a realistic conversation about it. We must be willing to speak the truth to our kids. BTW, in case anyone is interested, you struggling humanities majors may find this article as a sort of cathartic: google Thomas Benton’s article ‘Graduate School in the Humanities – Just Don’t Go’. I’ll make my kids read this.

  37. I am a little surprised the mismatching of immigration has not been referred to. With the growth in temporary workers, it is clear that the immigration policy needs tuning so the new immigrants are filling that shortage. Similarly, our current immigration process seems to have a large number of people new to the Canadian work force, competing with young Canadian grads new to the workforce – creating a surplus.

  38. The writers do mention the effect of the Temporary Foreign Worker program on the job prospects of young Canadians, but they don’t say very important details such as the fact that Ottawa allowed 400,000 TFW’s to work here last year and close to 300,000 in previous years.

    Also, the writers don’t say anything about the effect of allowing 250,000 regular immigrants to come here every year for the past 21 years. That is a gross abnormality in Canada’s immigration history. It started as an immigrant vote-getting tactic announced by Immigration Minister Barbra McDougall in 1990 and it has been virtually institutionalized.

    Those nearly 6 million (mostly unnecessary) people alone have probably had the most significant impact of all the possible factors. Why didn’t the two writers include this in their story?

    Dan Murray

  39. I saw this article pop up on my facebook news feed yesterday, I have since “Unliked” Macleans Magazine.

    It’s not that what you’re saying isn’t necessarily true, it’s the whole tone of the article.

    Maybe this cover story will sell a lot of magazines and get a lot of attention, but it will in no way contribute to those in the “Underclass” and intimately benefit society.

    I think you need to send your writer back to his or her computer to rewrite the article. Title it “The New Underdogs: How a generation of well-educated, ambitious, smart young people are creating bright futures for themselves.”

    Nothing in your article is new, and this conversation that has been going on for a long time especially in the United States. The conversation has now changed, enrollment numbers in colleges across the US are down, young people are already adapting and changing.

    It’s time to step up your game Macleans, this is old news.

  40. I began working when I was 14. It was summer jobs of course. I worked to pay my college and university. I completed a post-graduate diploma in accounting and a bachelor in management (HEC Montreal). I started my career as an auditor (external and internal) before even finishing my bachelor, landing a job at KPMG. I never ran off of work since, having work also a Deloitte in Montreal, Moscow and Australia. I am roughly doubling my salary every 5 years. I am now planning to start my own business. Life if easier when you are in charge.

    To get a decent job, that would help a lot to study in a field that actually have employment. e.g. My girlfriend as a master in criminology. She now realized that it was not a very good career choice as she is stuck with a low pay government job. She is now considering doing accounting to open up the array of possibilities. I will financial support her while she does that. We can afford it.

  41. depressing!

  42. I’m 24 and a musician. I’m currently employed in my field and work part-time at a record store and private instructor when not on tour. I’m legally allowed to work in the United States under the P1 visa class, and I am there fairly often while on the road. I have no benefits (most musicians don’t and never have). I have a
    meager savings, built from research work, wedding gigs, odd jobs, etc,
    but I invest my savings into my own small business (music!) and file my taxes
    every year. And yes, I had to move back in with my parents after I graduated (even with no debt thanks to a full academic scholarship).

    When I announced what I wanted to study, I was laughed at by peers, teachers, etc. Some of these people are now struggling to find career-field work; some of those same people are taking on even more debt by going back to school. I consider myself lucky because I knew what I wanted to do from a very early age and pursued it… others are not so lucky, partially due to the mess that is high school guidance and partially due to their own volition. People are pushed into programs/fields of study at an absurdly young age — though I knew what I wanted to do at 17, I am surely in the minority — and that is a multi-faceted cultural issue that we have yet to address in a meaningful way.

    To young people who can’t find a career field, I have only one suggestion: the Canadian government offers a vast array of grants to people of any age looking to start a small business, make art, or better themselves and our society in a meaningful way. Do your homework and find a grant that will help you achieve your goals and make an impact while they’re still there. You might not get that grant right away — you may need to employ a grant writer — but there are options for those people willing to think outside of traditional job markets.

    • great point

  43. Ottawa’s revamped foreign skilled workers program. “This has an impact
    on employers who are saying, ‘Why should I incur the cost of training
    someone when I can plead poverty and get someone from Mexico or Brazil
    to come and do the job at a lower wage?’”

    so true.

  44. Please stop having children

    • so all the muslims can populate Canada and you will be paying taxes to keep them on welfare? are you nuts?

  45. Hurr durr! I think those young folk are lazy bums who made bad life choices by going to university. Be more like me, and get a good job by commenting on Maclean’s all the time.

  46. “value of his degree in history and political science—or lack thereof” – Every time I read this kind of thing I wonder what went through these kids’ minds. Did they honestly believe that a degree in political science or history would lead to a six figure salary. Let’s be honest.

    • Can’t blame the kids. Likely their parents and teachers pushed them in that direction.

  47. It seems to me that the private sector, especially banks and other large organziations, have a reponsibility to stop setting the expectations so high to enter into their workforce, ie. MBA’s . As well, the idea of having to increase one’s unversity education to one’s portfolio helps you become more marketable is not necessary (transferable skills and abilities) it is also contributing to the huge amount of debt these young people are creating for themselves. It is totally not true that one with an MBA is more responsible, more effective, or more skilled as a worker…..our young people need work experience and the larger corporations have the resources to help them the most. I say….make the Corporate World be more socially responsible and help our youth!

    • the best will be if you created your own reality and not beg corporations for help

    • No one is ‘begging’. Just suggesting that those organizations who have more resources, especially those reporting larger profits, do their part to help these young people get started. Big business is leading the charge on the expectations of having to be academically decorated in order to be even considered for a work opportunity. This messaging needs to stop, entry level work needs to be more attainable for young people to obtain so they can prove themselves and start creating a life for themselves. Creating your own reality is fine but if there aren’t any work opportunities, how does that work then exactly?

  48. It’s funny that the things addressed by this article are true, but the issues that keep young people from moving up are ignored. Are people who are employed in Canada legally required to retire? No, that law changed a few years ago. As a result, people at the top of the ladder in companies get to stay there. This means no upward movements within companies, meaning no openings of entry-level positions. No teachers need to retire, so no teaching jobs available. The list goes on, really. My point is that because of this lack of movement, people are unable to acquire employment within the fields they have studied or trained in. So what options does that leave for young people? To try to find employment within the jobs that remain, and then pay the bills and pay the debts back. My opinion here is irrelevant, but I too am at the mercy of debt and a strange economy.

  49. Sometimes, reality bites. Today’s job hunters have the option of surveying the demand and tailoring their skills to the market or not. Forty years ago I maintained that the purpose of most university degrees was to acquire a stamp that said Middle Class, Can be Hired. Fifteen years ago I was telling gifted grade eights that university wasn’t always the answer. Sometimes they might find a job that makes them heaps of money, happy to go to work in a field they love. They might find a job that does one or two of them. In the end, there is nothing wrong with a job that pays the rent etc.and gives you time to pursue your interests. So go to university because you love academics or to train in one of the few professions that do require university training. Don’t put yourself in debt because everyone else is and don’t become an engineer because they are in demand and are well paid.

    Money is always a problem, especially in the first couple of decades of working. If you are buying coffee out, always buying new clothes, insist on a car and good restaurants and can’t see any options but separate bedrooms for each of your children, you might want to step back and look hard at the way you choose to spend your money. If you can distinguish between what you WANT and what you NEED, you may find it easier to save. Read the Wealthy Barber for excellent advice on saving and spending on a modest income.

  50. Universities and colleges are making billions telling people to go to school. So we waste our youth and our money paying for pieces of paper. And when there is no employment we spend more money on more paper. You don’t need school to do 90% of the jobs out there. When I say jobs I mean working in an office. There’s nothing you can’t learn on YouTube or learn just by reading. The sad part is the jobs we want are not even great. They are 9-5, eat your feelings, excel monkey jobs. I know I sound bitter but I have 3 degrees from the top universities in NA and after being unemployed for 2 years the best I got was an internship where I was pounding away on excel and working for people with lesser education than myself. My saving grace was starting my own business and doing my own thing. The reality is there are not enough jobs. The only way there will be more jobs is if more companies are created to offer those jobs.

    • sadly, this is so true – universities are interested in making money only – in order to do that they keep students busy with useless courses spread over long time and charge high fees (over 50% is spent on administration – at University of Toronto in particular)

  51. Hiring an apprentice and paying for their training is a win-win for employers. Government kick-backs encourage apprenticeship training and you don’t have pay as much for an apprentice in per-hour wages as you would with someone that has already got their ticket.

    Soo on that note, the shortages are coming in with having qualified tradespeople that have checked out and who already have their tickets. You can’t hire and offer apprenticeships if you don’t have enough journeymen.

  52. Why did she have 2 kids if her employment situation was dicey and her finances weren’t in order?

    • You might get jumped on for that comment, but you have a point. Kids cost around $250,000 *each*! People forget that for some reason. I hope the woman you’re referencing can fund the half million dollar commitment she made.

    • How do you know her finances weren`t in order. It takes two to have kids, and it seems probable, or at least plausible that she has a partner who is earning. Surprising that this is what you took away from this article.

  53. I think this skirts around a central issue:

    YOUNG CANADIANS WANT TO OWN HOMES. But even I, someone who’s lived in houses their whole life, know that most made today (or the past 15 years) are nowhere near the quality of the ones previous generations purchased. The older houses in the market didn’t cost anywhere NEAR that prices to produce or build yet they have obscene prices on them.

    It’s all the housing market and the abuses/constraints we force upon it every year, it’s been unsustainable and probably should have collapsed by now and should collapse by now. Or everyone needs to start building houses.

    We keep hearing that stat about how many young Canadians are living at home again; it’s because it’s impossible to afford a new home on any scale like years past, higher debt ratios like those never experienced, and as the article states a massive disconnect with reality in terms of what jobs we *need* and what jobs we train for.

  54. A Bachelor’s is nothing these days – get the Master’s and PhD, or none at all.
    Learn a trade – you will have many careers in your lifetime, so while you are young, make lots of money to buy yourself the freedom to do ‘what you want’ later. At least you can plan to retire someday.
    The middle class is gone. Don’t be sentimental.
    It has always been hard to transition from school to work. Find a co-operative program to help with this.
    Be prepared to travel – work moves these days – if you aren’t portable, someone else will be.
    There is nothing wrong with work in the trades – doing something well, and understanding quality, craftsmanship and service, will never go out of fashion – and women love a guy who’s handy!
    Take care of yourself – nobody else will.

  55. hey macleans, how much do you pay your well educated, 20-something interns?

  56. We have to use the expertise our current population has, harness it, take advantage of it to grow Canada and help it evolve into a prosperous, healthy, and social society.

    Our education system needs to change, too, to be much more flexible and integrated naturally with the multi-disciplinary education and skills that all of us will need so we’re not stuck with all of our eggs in one basket.

    And people, society, needs to be educated that these systems take multiple decades at minimum to start churning out highly positive results across the board; We can use how our current system has taken many decades to show the negative / imbalanced impact it’s had on society.

    Following the right leading metrics, and with the right systems supported / facilitated will allow for a lot of work to be created, for new and ongoing demand for skilled labour and trades.

    It’s possible we’re miseducating a lot of the population as well. This is bad because of fatigue and wasted money, and more importantly wasted time and energy. Everyone being funnelled into such specific educational channels doesn’t allow for a very dynamic economy, and creates a higher-risk scenario, when it would be best for long-term stability and sustainability to structure a more risk averse population in general – and for higher-risk opportunities do calculations on a per situation basis to determine what action to take.

  57. Two kids? sounds like she’s doing just fine. I lived in Victoria for four years, and everyone knows that there are no jobs there. Try moving somewhere where everyone isn’t rich, retired, or in university.

  58. It is ridiculous that Canada has over 400,000 short term foreign workers on our soil, when businesses will not engage in any in-house training. It is absurd to say that say Welding skills are so hard to teach that it justifies finding someone from another country to come here as an indentured servant. Shut down the free ride of imported labour, and just see how quickly employers start to train for such skills again, the way they did in the eighties. And I question why fixing a labour market failure is not a bigger priority than importing more serfs. It does not cost much to train people for specific skills like welding. I hire skilled trades, and guess what. If I want the perfect skill set in my employees, then I have to train the good ones. Then I have to pay a good wage, and provide good conditions to retain them after I have spent the dough on training. People like me used to be called good employers. Now I called a sucker if I am not importing hordes of Mexican serfs to do $35 per hour jobs for $10 per hour. I get the last laugh though. When I advertise for skilled people, and offer training on top of that, I get the cream of the crop, and my business has double the productivity of my competition. Just goes to show that the old adage `hire for attitude and train for skill is true. Too bad Canadian businesses and the Federal Government are too stupid to see past the ends of their noses, and tap into the endless supply of very smart Canadian Educated kids

    • Thank you for what you do! You are not a sucker, you are doing something smart (you are getting the cream of the crop after all, lol) and proving that maybe there is some hope after all :)

  59. Yup, it’s this way clear to Mexico.

  60. Canada has an engineering unemployment crisis, with only 1 in 3 engineering graduates managing to find a position, after graduation, that provides the requisite experience to qualify as a Professional Engineer in Canada. The software/electrical/computer field has been ground zero over the past decade for engineer unemployment as quality employers such as Nortel and others in the industry have dissappeared, with the rest of “corporate Canada” outsourcing everything possible in IT to foreign service providers.

    Much of my engineering and computer science graduating class of a decade ago, even to this day, is unemployed. We constantly ask ourselves, “what should we retrain to”, but many of us draw blanks because our degrees are already highly flexible. It seems to many of us that it is the employers who aren’t being flexible, and its the employers who aren’t willing to invest to make their businesses more productive and efficient, even if it involved taking some short-term loss of earnings potential to develop a long-term R&D capability.

  61. A diploma in any of a host of applied science technologies often trumps a non-professional degree in today’s career market…especially if the diploma is in a co-op program that puts students into paid work terms with potential future employers.

    Working at a BC college I witnessed it over and over again: frustrated grads with degrees, enrolling in college programs for career training.; In many cases students would have been far wiser to simply forego the degree and go straight from secondary school into a technology, or trade.

  62. No shortage of Leftist Mental Disorder on this thread.

  63. The truth is that the economy has been in decline for years, speeding up after the free trade and nafta sellouts by our corrupt politicians and corporations. You see, we have a facist dictatorship with harper and his cronies. He continues free trade deals with third world countries which only further destroys our standard of living. This hollowing out of the middle class started really accelerating after the ’93 recession. The promises of better times never materialized for the man on the street. As our jobs kept heading east the realization was prolonged by the internet revolution. The corporatacracy connected became rich beyond belief and continue to do so. The bottom 80% are getting further behind each year. In order to make up for the lack of increasing wages the banks and governments colluded to enslave the sheeple. They gave credit to everyone that could fog a mirror, regardless of ability to pay back. Then starting after the nasdaq crash in 2000 which was orchestrated by Wall and Bay Street and another devastating recession. The powers that be had another bubble up their sleeves. Lets crash interest rates to 0% or close to it and create a world wide housing bubble.

    The absolute treasonous policies of this neocon, reform facist government of harper, flaherty and governor of the bank of canada, carney created 0 % down payment and 40 year amortizations in 2006. This happened when the US and other countries such as Ireland, Spain etc. housing bubble was bursting. Harper wanted it to appear that the economy was doing well so that he could scam the sheeple into giving him his majority. This is the biggest mistake in Canadian history and his policies will destroy this country. His omnibus bills and secret tactics would make Edward Bernays stand up and salute. The economy has been intentionally destroyed. Canada’s housing bubble will destroy millions of lives and households will lose hundreds of thousands of equity. Houses were never meant to be investments. They were never supposed to be retirement plans for boomers.

    This last equity market crash of ’08-’09 was also orchestrated. Could the timing be more perfect? The pension plans and wealth of the average Canadian has been stolen by the corporatacracy. They want you to work till you die. And work at minimum wage jobs that the young and educated can’t even get now.

    There is no recovery in the US. The media lies and has been our total indoctrinated lives.

    Educate yourselves, sheeple. Do not trust the government, the bankster cartel, the media cartel, the real estate cartel, the miseducation cartel, or the health disease cartel.

  64. The truth is that the economy has been in decline for years, speeding up after the free trade and nafta sellouts by our corrupt politicians and corporations. You see, we have a facist dictatorship with harper and his cronies. He continues free trade deals with third world countries which only further destroys our standard of living. This hollowing out of the middle class started really accelerating after the ’93 recession. The promises of better times never materialized for the man on the street. As our jobs kept heading east the realization was prolonged by the internet revolution. The corporatacracy connected became rich beyond belief and continue to do so. The bottom 80% are getting further behind each year. In order to make up for the lack of increasing wages the banks and governments colluded to enslave the sheeple. They gave credit to everyone that could fog a mirror, regardless of ability to pay back. Then starting after the nasdaq crash in 2000 which was orchestrated by Wall and Bay Street and another devastating recession. The powers that be had another bubble up their sleeves. Lets crash interest rates to 0% or close to it and create a world wide housing bubble.

    The absolute treasonous policies of this neocon, reform facist government of harper, flaherty and governor of the bank of canada, carney created 0 % down payment and 40 year amortizations in 2006. This happened when the US and other countries such as Ireland, Spain etc. housing bubble was bursting. Harper wanted it to appear that the economy was doing well so that he could scam the sheeple into giving him his majority. This is the biggest mistake in Canadian history and his policies will destroy this country. His omnibus bills and secret tactics would make Edward Bernays stand up and salute. The economy has been intentionally destroyed. Canada’s housing bubble will destroy millions of lives and households will lose hundreds of thousands of equity. Houses were never meant to be investments. They were never supposed to be retirement plans for boomers.

    This last equity market crash of ’08-’09 was also orchestrated. Could the timing be more perfect? The pension plans and wealth of the average Canadian has been stolen by the corporatacracy. They want you to work till you die. And work at minimum wage jobs that the young and educated can’t even get now.

    There is no recovery in the US. The media lies and has been our total indoctrinated lives.

    Educate yourselves, sheeple. Do not trust the government, the bankster cartel, the media cartel, the real estate cartel, the miseducation cartel, or the health disease cartel.

  65. “Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer”

    I would beg to disagree.

    This person has made two rather large errors that seem to be perpetuated by a lot of job seekers, First she is unwilling to move from the expensive BC area Secondly she went and had a kid before getting a secured job.

    Take some responsibility for your life and realize that YOU need to make better decisions and a degree will not negate the poor decisions made.

    PS I am someone who graduated in the oil and gas industry during the great oil price bust in Calgary of 1986.
    Jobs disappeared and people just up and left with a good many houses left vacant, I moved to where ever I could to get any type of work and kept at it until many years later I was able to get my foot in the door and progress along.
    It was not easy and it sure was not the way that I had planned it, but I made sure that I always worked at something whether it was in the field I was trained in or not. Rome was not built in a day and not all careers can be either.

  66. Kids these days are so lazy. Why don’t they join the military or work on a fishing boat. I see nothing but advertisements for the Canadian Military. After I finished my grade 10 I got a job at a car factory. I had moxie in those days. I personally hand delivered my resume to the receptionist at the car factory. They were so impressed with my ambition that they hired me on the spot without an interview. I worked there for 35 years working the line and never called in sick once. Since I never finished high school I knew I would never get a job as an Engineer or President which I thought was wrong because I had been at the factory longer. Kids today just want to go to University to drink and look at pretty girls so they do useless degree’s. Its their own fault.

  67. Hello, I graduated 15 years ago so my advice may be a bit outdated. I have worked outside Canada for the last 7 years (more or less). Whatever your job is – not just manufacturing, but also in services (I work in IT) – companies are finding workers. I work in europe right now and believe me there’s a lot of guys in Hungary/Poland with good master degrees in you name it who speak English, German, Spanish, French etc who’ll do a job for 1/3 to 1/2 the price. The complaints of Canadian companies with labour shortages are complaining because they want to stay in Canada. They may have good reason to stay, but the workforce exists elsewhere (I am only speaking of Eastern Europe and I can imagine Asian as a whole and South America as a whole mayh have some interesting talent as well (for American english speakers)…

    The gaps in wages aren’t huge (10-30% difference) and culturally overall we are more focused on performance compared to the operations I’ve been involved in – but we should not fool ourselves that there is a ‘labour shortage’. Canadians are reluctant to move certain operations overseas (maybe for good reason).

    Part of my family are first generation immigrants to Canada and I am a strong believer that immigration is part of what has made our nation an open and strong nation and culture. I think we are more ready than any developed nation to handle what I see as a transition of influence and power. But I think it is in our nation’s interest to understand that this is what is happening. We are not better/worse than anyone else outiside our borders and we may have to redefine our idea of what it means to be ‘middle class’.

    I think our future generations will be ok if we find a way not to burden them with the massive obligations that await them to support an aging population which may possibly not have paid their way to their entitlements. And – more importantly, because I feel they’llhave to pay for it anyway – I hope for our newer generations to recognize the level of competence (and comptetition) outside our borders and outside our continent.

    No one’s going to read this because it’s too long, but I like and disliked this article, and I felt I had to react to it.

  68. Wow, I remember when I was in my 20’s just out of school and that was when it was all about equal rights hiring and well I could not find a job. I had 7 years University and 3 years of College and well, could not get a big job. I worked hard for 15 years and then I got one. This is like homes cost too much, Canada Goose never on sale, Lexus costs too much. Nothing comes easy, work hard and it will come. Its always been the same, I am Gen X, the lost gen, but somehow 20 years later we are buying Million dollar conds and doing well.

  69. This isn’t just a problem for young twenty somethings … it is also a problem for those of us over 40, and need work … I have an undergraduate degree, a masters degree, college certificates and professional licencing …. left traditional work force for 5 years, and the return has been gruelling, depressing, and demoralizing …

  70. Canada needs more immigrants to do the jobs Canadians won’t do.

  71. Stop crying the government just increased immigration and refugees for this year. It can’t be that bad. Hint of sarcasm, tell your MP how you feel. Be idle no more!

  72. The problem is rampant socialism. By definition, a person is not well-educated unless they have a high probability of finding a job with their skills. The economic downturn means the demand for labour has decreased.

  73. I am a skilled trades person from Europe and I dont understand it here!! I got my qualifications here by sitting an hour test, they did not want to see my credentials or schooling I just needed to provide a letter from an employer saying I have worked for 8000 hours in a technical field. I then sat the test which you can learn to pass at college (10 weeks course)
    Yikes beats 5 years apprenticeship and 7 years at college I guess!!!!!!

  74. First of all, university is not a vocational training institute. A university education teaches one to think and evaluate critically. That said, a good university education should enable a person to dig deeply into one’s own field, while not losing sight of how his or her knowledge is related or “fit in” with the big picture, and that’s where a general sense of history, philosophy and literature comes into play. The latter should prompt one to pick up and also be passionate with a “skill” and develop expertise in it. This would then allow a university graduate to participate fully in the labour market upon graduation while maintaining his or her “edge” because this is something on top of mere trades training.

    Too bad the latter half is often overlooked and not given enough emphasis by most.

  75. This generation needs to open their minds. Your education can be used in areas other than what you intended it for….at least until you can get into your area.
    I also notice 20-somethings think that their degree alone makes them useful and deserving of a high paying job. You need to work your way up by learning the ropes. Your degree teaches you nothing about your employer or about office/corporate dynamics. If you have a degree or even 2 or 3 but your work experience consists of serving drinks, you are only hireable for the mailroom or reception.

    Side Note: Young women need a reality check on workplace attire. It’s not a nightclub, it’s an office. I’ve seen many not get hired or promoted because they dress like they are working at Hooters.

  76. I find this entire situation so frustrating. I graduated highschool in ’07, and pursued a mix of skilled trades and academic education, as I (along with everyone else my age) was fully aware of the limitations of a purely academic education in todays job market. Since officially graduating in August with both technical certification and a bachelors, I have paid of all of my student debt and am living quite comfortably, making ~100k a year as a Ship’s Officer working a month-on month-off rotation. My generation is not stupid, they were made fully aware of the employment situation before enrolling in post-secondary education, yet due to some sort of willful ignorance, they have ignored it. I think the biggest issue we face today is a generation that expects to “love” their work. I think although it is certainly something to aspire to, employment (at least in my mind) is more about providing an opportunity at quality of life through resources, rather than quality of life itself. Its a vocation, not a vacation, as they say .

  77. My word of advice… save your money…don’t go to college or university. I graduated with a BA and after 10 years work experience still feel cheated because high-school educated colleges do the same work as me and live more comfortably due to not starting life in an academic debt hole. Take the money and invest it in your own venture, be your own boss and create your own wealth. If I could turn back time I would have saved my 30 g’s and just put in into a store or service that i’d run on my own.

  78. There’s another problem not discussed in the article– the presence of global free (or nearly free) trade, with the absence of global migration rights. Countries are (sensibly) specialising in certain industries, but skilled and talented people are not necessarily permitted to follow. I am an editor, specialised in the production of academic titles. Globally, it is a growing industry. There are hundreds of positions available in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and London. I worked in London until the UK changed its immigration laws in 2011-12, and now find myself stuck in Canada with a useless set of skills, since the immigration rules of both the US and the UK do not allow me to work there (the really stupid part is if I wanted to be an accountant for, say, the University of Chicago Press, that’s allowed under the TN Visa category. An editor for the same press, which sells thousands of books in Canada each year? Nope. Not allowed). And all of the big publishers produce their books in those two countries, and then “sell” the rights to a Canadian subsidiary, who repackage them and puts a “Canada” on the covers. But the only person employed in Canada is a bloody marketer.

    The ONLY reason why I am currently underemployed is because I am a Canadian, and only a Canadian. If I had an EU or US passport, I would be a much, much more productive member of the global community.

    Here, I still apply to jobs which come up with the few publishers who have tiny little Canadian editorial offices…but it’s just impossible. I think my project management (and people management) skills could translate reasonably well into a tech workplace, but I don’t get callbacks because my skills, experience, and qualifications don’t match the template some overpaid HR sheep fed into the computer to cover for her dearth of critical thinking skills.

    Canada has specialised in natural resources and tech companies. Outside of that, you can work in healthcare and financial services. If you want to work in one of the flourishing industries where Canadians are consumers, but no longer creators, you are only permitted to do so if you already possess another passport. It is absurd.

  79. Good luck filling the skilled trades with the new E.I. rules. A young trades person won’t have a chance. Most construction trades are seasonal for the first few years until you can go from apprentice to contractor. 10 Years from now is when these changes will really be felt.

  80. Canadians are valued all over the world for higher education, technical skills and good ethics. One needs to have the courage to leave the comforts of home and contribute elsewhere, internationally. Go out into the world, where Canaddians are needed!!

  81. I can’t help but wonder if Melanie would have found a position if she had applied for jobs outside of the lower mainland. I have found plenty of work in the north in my field (as a bratty kid from the millennial generation, I might add), and diversity of positions that need to be filled. Unfortunately, quite a few people are not willing to make the move out of the city. I think they need to put aside their misconceptions about northern living. Or not… More jobs for us.

  82. Very interesting article. However, I feel it stops short. I would love to see a follow up article about what all these 20 something’s are now doing. My guess is that entrepreneurial activities will be on the rise as people start their own small business out of necessity. Older adults with full time jobs are doing so to establish a Plan B and to protect against downsizing, so why would the unemployed well educated young adults not also?

  83. “People talk about the entitlement of the millennial generation,” says Diana Bailey, a 24-year-old advertising student at Toronto’s Humber College, who has found nothing better than an unpaid internship to sustain her after she graduates this spring. “But in most cases, the only option that’s being offered to us is indentured servitude.”

    “Making me work at something I don’t like or for less than I want is slavery. I’m not entitled!”

    Oh God the irony.

  84. A part of the problem that was almost entirely glossed over by this article is the problem of globalized “free” trade agreements.

    I think trading with other nations is great. I think places that have true competitive advantage for some item should make said items and freely sell them abroad.

    But that’s not the world we live in. Instead we pass reasonable laws in Canada regarding labour, safety and environmental standards. And we simply do not allow companies to operate here without complying with our laws.

    But we don’t require the same of foreign producers. So companies ship work overseas to countries that have abominable and inhuman standards, and then let them export vast quantities of goods back to us without penalty for what would be criminal behaviour in Canada.

    Canadians are told that we need to reduce costs so we can compete, but that’s not real competitive advantage, it’s just a race to the bottom. Our trade agreements should include massive tariffs on goods coming from countries/companies that don’t act responsibly–if a company wants to sell into Canada, then they don’t get to exploit unreasonably cheap labour and disastrously lax environmental standards.

    If we did so, you would see no small number of those “vanished” manufacturing jobs return to our shores.

  85. I keep hearing there is a global shortage of healthcare workers but I am born in Canada, trained in Canadian health records management from Toronto and I have 10 years experience in hospitals and universities and have been out of work for 3 years now. I am also a top notch medical transcriptionist in all fields of medicine, not just one. It takes years to learn that skill. Homecare jobs are taken up from newcomers from the phillipines and Haiti and you must have a car to do that job, not possible with the peanut salary they pay you.

  86. Nurses who trained and graduate in Canada have a hard time finding FT employment, most are only casual positions, however they bring thousands of nurses from other nations. TFWs take 500,000 jobs a year and not just Macdonald jobs in many lines of work, even hotel jobs, jobs that students would be doing until they found work in their chosen field. Office jobs have pretty well been wiped out by technology. Call centres half have moved overseas. Factories jobs are slim. Education has been cutback.