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Why can’t young people find jobs?

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in HR Issues, Moneyville | 0 comments

Read this blog and comments on moneyville.

       October 25, 2012

It took my son a year and a half to find a job as an analytical chemist in Vancouver after he graduated with an M.Sc. from University of British Columbia. In the interim he worked at a call centre.

His experience is not unique. Statistics Canada reported in September 2012 that youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is 15 per cent, as compared to 7 per cent for the workforce as a whole. Many young people are working in precarious temporary jobs and it is taking them longer to get a precious toehold on the career ladder.

Why is youth employment so high?

Lawyer Andrew Langille, who also blogs about youth and work recently interviewed Angella MacEwen, an economist with the Canadian Labour Congress. When asked why the disparity between youth unemployment and overall employment rates is so great, MacEwan said that as Canadians are living longer and working longer, there are fewer openings for youth. She also noted that youth often lack the experience/and or connections of older workers. In uncertain times businesses are leery of hiring an unproven entity.


A recent survey by recruiter Ranstaad Canada reveals that many Canadian employers are struggling to find the right people amid a growing skills shortage. The lack of skilled workers is widespread and affects employers in such areas as manufacturing, automation and energy and utility industries.

I can see a partial solution to youth unemployment and the skills mismatch here. Educational institutions, governments and the private sector should work together more effectively to get the message out about where the jobs are and the skills  needed to do the work.

Co-op and apprenticeship programs should be mandatory in high schools, colleges and universities so every young person graduates with work experience and references.

  • Every high school student should have the opportunity to be paired with one or more mentors in the community who can be a reference point for future networking opportunities.
  • Employers should have incentives to provide on the job training.
  • Where jobs are in one part of the country and the young people who can fill those jobs are somewhere else, work/travel allowances and job security for a specified minimum period should be available to encourage labour mobility.


Both private and public sector organizations need skilled workers. Young people need jobs. Instead of squandering that potential, we need to find constructive ways to build more bridges between education and work.
Why firms should hire young workers
Job market recovery leaves young people behind
Manufacturing jobs are there for the highly skilled

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