Eagle Vision Quarterly Newsletter

March 2013

Richard L. Simms
President, Black Eagle Executive Search

Youth Unemployment – Consider a Trade!

For the Eagle Vision quarterly newsletter of December, 2012, I received interesting responses from industry people I know, saying they were astounded at the youth unemployment levels cited. In my Career Transition practice (search, outplacement, career counseling, and executive coaching) I am constantly hearing from young university educated people (ages 22-29) who are desperately seeking full time employment. From the last newsletter, I cite the youth unemployment statistics:

The Canadian Press, January 29, 2013

Youth unemployment in Canada peaked at 16.4 per cent in July of 2009 from a pre-slump level of about 11 per cent. More than two years into the recovery, the rate remains elevated at 14 per cent, about twice the national average (7.1% in January 2013).

Updating to the present time, April 8, 2013, below is a quote from an article by a 24-year old, Nicole Wray, in Workopolis (she is a regular editorial contributor).

As a 24-year-old Bachelor of Arts grad with a degree-related full-time job, health benefits and vacation time, I am an object of envy for many university-educated twenty somethings who have hit a roadblock on the highway from backpack to boardroom. As a new crop of graduates finish their final exams and begin to compete for full-time employment, here are three reasons why undergrads may soon find themselves unemployed.

1. Universities produce unprepared grads, study says

In a 2012 survey completed by The Chronicle of Higher Employment, 31% of all employers polled reported that grads are unprepared or very unprepared for their job search. More than half of all polled employers reported difficulty finding qualified candidates for the job, citing oral and written communications, problem solving, organizational and project management as sought-after skills. Rated as more important than major or academic standing is an internship or employment experience, a must-have resume credential for recent grads according to survey respondents.

2. University grads have unrealistic employment expectations

Campus Confidential authors Coates and Morrison (two Canadian professors) argue that universities are meant to be places of higher learning: “the meeting place for brilliant young minds and accomplished mentors.” In reality, argue Coates and Morrison, many students are completing their university degrees with the minimal amount of effort… leaving them with few desirable skills. For example, employers surveyed in the above-mentioned study cited basic oral and written communications and decision-making skills as traits that post-secondary institutions need to work harder to produce in graduates.

Rather than blindly pursuing a university degree, Coates and Morrison urge students to consider less glamorous, more practical alternatives to higher education, such as skilled trades programs that teach tangible skills leading to specific employment outcomes with steady job markets.

3. Blue-collar jobs vs. white-collar unemployment

Though the Canadian education system is one of the best in the world, a disconnect between education supply and workplace demands contribute to Canada’s 14.2% youth unemployment rate. With an estimated 40% of all new jobs being in the skilled trades and technology industry by 2020 (according to the Conference Board of Canada), university-bound high school students should be asking themselves not what they want to major in, but whether or not they should be applying to university at all. Not only can an electrician or a plumber make just as much or even more per hour than someone working an office job, skilled trade education costs can often be offset by paid apprenticeships and government funding. Trades jobs also offer steady, more predictable job markets; regardless of the next tech trend, people will still need haircuts, toilets will need fixing and houses will need wiring.

So, when you encounter young people from high school age through to age 30 complaining about the lack of job opportunities for youth, perhaps we should all be suggesting they pursue a trade!

Contact Black Eagle

Telephone: (416) 458-9969
Email: info@blackeagle.ca