Olivia’s Op-Ed for The Bulletin
September 24, 2012
TORONTO – The horrible knot in the stomach. We all wish we won’t experience this sinking feeling: the world comes crashing down when you are told by your employer that you are no longer needed. The devastating moment is too often followed by endless months of sending out hundreds of applications without landing a job.
This depressing experience has become routine for hundreds of thousands of young Canadians struggling to find permanent employment. Youth joblessness keeps on rising with official numbers now reaching 15% – the highest level in more than 10 years. An even gloomier picture is painted by labour market experts that estimate the real number to be closer to 20%.
Over the past four years, almost 200,000 young people have simply given up looking for a job and returned to school or quit the labour market completely.
Justin is one of the jobless young people having a hard time finding work after graduating from university – despite his substantial credentials. Instead of landing a permanent job, he is forced to string together contract jobs and badly paid internships to stay afloat.
Justin is not alone: his classmates are all in the same boat. And they are crying out for help. In his own words: “I want the federal government take the lead in helping young Canadians get into the fields they had trained for.”
But Harper is making matters worse. There are 300,000 more unemployed people than 2008. Instead of tackling the growing crisis, the Conservatives are cutting youth employment services with wait hours now reaching three hours for a young jobseeker to get help. Bringing 200,000 foreign workers in Canada every year means less chance for young people to land a first job, and take away the incentive for companies to train young Canadians.
We owe it to the young generation to reverse the situation. We need to invest in training programs, education grants and youth employment services to put people on the right track.