Job struggles continue for our University Grads

Dec 19 2017, 6:29 am

Canadian university grads are still facing struggles to find related full-time work. This is not new and has been the same case for almost 4 years now. How many grads have you met working at the local Starbucks, or serving your dinner at Cactus Club? These students invest a lot of time, money, and hard work to make it in life just like they were told to do – and just over 50 per cent of the time it is not working

The traditional template of Go to school, get a good education, and get a good job is not working like it did for generations past. The striking part is that our youth are still taking most of their advice from people who are uneducated on what is working in today’s job market and what employers require. I’m sorry to say parents, but in this regard you may be doing more damage than good when it comes to guiding your children.

Young people often worry (with good reason) if their studies will lead to an actual job. In May 2012 the Labour Stats released that the number of unemployed youth between the ages of 15 to 24 increased by 15.3% from a year ago. Studies indicate anywhere from 43 – 51% of grads are working in jobs that do not require a degree. Although we can see the data and the bleak circumstances, our approach has varied little. Parents are still directing their children to become lawyers, doctors, or worse yet maybe they are leaving it completely in their children’s hands allowing them to go study a general arts degree or psychology.  There is little to no research done as to what these degrees will translate into and what the outcome will be. How about some basic questions, such as, Where do you think you want to live and build a career? What kind of lifestyle would you like to have?

Example: If you want to become a lawyer and live in Vancouver, you may want to know that only 7% of law grads actually landed an articling job in Vancouver in 2011, where it was closer to 15% in Toronto.  With enrollment numbers still climbing in Law, and declining school-to-job transition rates, you have to wonder if the facts and numbers are even being considered. Law students, are you willing to move? Well, you may have to. Outsourcing is another consideration: other countries like India are becoming well-versed in Canadian law and can be hired for articling jobs at lower pay.

Canada currently has a stronger demand for people with trade skills rather than basic undergraduate credentials. A crucial report from Rick Miner, a former College president, insists we are producing too many generalists and not enough specialists in Canada. His report titled, “People without jobs, Jobs without People” outlines how the Canadian education system is producing many well-educated people, but not necessarily in industries where the need is the greatest.

We are simply churning out more graduates in areas then than the economy can employ. Looking at Vancouver and B.C’s current situation, you can see that trades are in demand. There are 550+ current Trades jobs available in the Greater Vancouver area. Just take a quick look at the search site.

Note: 96 per cent of BCIT apprenticed grads are working in their chosen trade 2011.

The trades industry is worth considering for those who want to live in Vancouver or in B.C. Mom and Dad may not be as prideful in telling their friends that their son is studying to become a welder rather than a lawyer – but it’s not about them. They had their time and their chance to accomplish what they wanted in life, and now it’s your turn.

It can be hard to stand out among a sea of similar graduates looking for work. To help you get started, here are a few tips:

  • Volunteering – I know, you’ve heard it before, but it is tough to gain experience, and this is one way to start. It will be harder to do later in life, so do it now.
  • Networking – still very effective, and who you know counts.
  • Communication and Leadership Study – outside of the classroom. Read books, attend seminars, and learn from those with experience. 
  • Co-op programs – a great way to learn, get your foot in the door, and bridge the gap from classroom to work world.

Book Recommendation:  Ken S. Coates &  Bill Morrison – Campus Confidential: 100 startling things you don’t know about Canadian universities.

Have you ever looked at World rankings for Universities? Perception still plays a major factor in today’s world. The World Rankings for Universities in 2011-2012 included two Canadian institutions in the top 25: the University of Toronto came in at 19th while the University of British Columbia ranked 22nd. Maybe sending our kids to a more prestigious post-secondary school isn’t a bad idea. Canadian institutions continue to urge our youth to “just get started and figure it out along the way.” This is one hell of a marketing ploy.

Mary DeMarinis, director of student recruitment and advising at the University of British Columbia says, “If kids don’t know what they want to do right away, we encourage them to take a really broad array of courses. I believe they will be inspired and ignited by something. There’s lot of time for kids to explore and take a number of classes before they have to decide their major.” 

At a tune of about $8,000 for one semester and with the current average B.C student debt load at a mark of $27,000, that is some costly self-reflection.

There is no clear-cut solution, but allowing our children to take time after high school to work, travel and figure themselves out may prove beneficial. The consideration of trades work or attending a technical college should be highlighted more. We are asking 18-year-olds to determine what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Not an easy question for anyone to answer. We need to equip youth with the hard truths and more tools to help them navigate the realities of the world and find their place within it. If they’re never shown or taught these essentials how can we expect them to make $27,000 decisions regarding their future. Stealing the experience from current professionals gone before us until we gain our own is invaluable. Thank you to all of the volunteers out there who take their time to give back in hopes of helping our future generations – they need it.

Thoughts, ideas, stories? Would love to hear them.