Today my grade 10 Future Forums class watched a CBC documentary called Generation Jobless. It was a great activity for the class because the documentary is well structured, and presents one side of a very strong argument (like an essay, which lends itself well for anlaysis). It claims young adults are underemployed (or unemployed) because of “education inflation” (too many people are over-qualified), the federal government does nothing to mediate university entrance, and old people take all the jobs after they retire (double-dipping).
My main concern with the documentary are the camera techniques, foreboding music, and one-sidedness of the presentation almost leaves students in tears as they realize some of them may have to keep their McPart-time-job well after their post-secondary education.
Although I do appreciate CBC’s blunt wakeup call to an alarming situation, is it too much? At one point they mention 68% of new grads from teachers college are underemployed by the end of their first year. My lingering questions revolve around that 32%. What did they do differently? Why are they successful? And how can my students emulate this in search of their own career? Of course, the answers aren’t crystal clear, as they vary from position to position. Also, if it were that simple, grade 10 careers wouldn’t be a mandatory course for high school.
It’s important to remember that as manufacturing jobs are distinguishing and being outsourced, tech and engineering positions are booming in the KW region. My wife’s work, Desire2Learn, is currently hiring over 100 positions. Her team in particular has hired a number of students who have done co-op terms with them. The trick is, as CBC mentioned, every employer is looking for someone with “the right skills.” Co-op and internships are a valuable means of gaining experience.
As I teach resume, interview, etc. skills, one thing I continuously emphasize is the need to get experience. As a teenager though, co-op and internships may not be an option for you right now. Also, unfortunately, gaining experience is not something a parent or teacher can do for their student. So get out there! Volunteer now. Find out if you like your areas of interest before taking on $27k of debt. Then when the day comes that you’re competing for your career opportunities, my hope is that the skills you’ve developed will set you above the rest.