INTRODUCTION – WHAT IS YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT?
There was a time when a University degree assured you a good job, good pay, and a comfortable life. This is not the case anymore! Today the unemployment rate for young people in Canada is close to 15% -- double the rate of the general population. Youth unemployment has been defined by the United Nations as “the unemployment of young people aged 15 -24 years old.” An unemployed person is considered to be an individual who does not have a job but is actively seeking work. In order to qualify as unemployed for statistical and official measurement, the individual must be without employment, willing and able to work, of the official designated “working age” and actively searching for employment. Historically, the unemployment rates of youth are double or more than that of adult rates in nearly every country in the world. Since unemployment is defined as those who are out of work but actively seeking work, the youth that are out of work but not seeking work is not part of the unemployment statistics. Youth in training, unpaid internships, or educational programs, but seeking paid work, is not counted among the unemployed even though their presence in such programs may indicate a shortage of jobs for young people. Therefore, the rate of youth unemployment is undercounted. CAUSES OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
There are many causes behind the high rates of youth unemployment. Many of these causes stem from issues that are related to the structure of the job, labour markets and education. There has also been a vast rise in the amount of internships and other temporary work for youth which has had a significant impact on the unemployment rates among youth.
Inflexible Labour Markets: Older employees have more job experience which provides them with additional job security. Therefore, it is typically the youngest, less experienced employees that are more likely to be let go than an older employee, who has been with a firm for a long time. When searching for employment, youth have less experience with job hunting. This ultimately makes the job hunting process more difficult and they are less likely to be successful than older employees who are also job hunting. Along with less actual job experience than older employees, youth have smaller social networks and fewer contacts. Mobility is another factor that impacts the youth unemployment rate. Youth are most often less mobile than older workers. Many youth today are relying on their parents for financial support because of labour conditions. Therefore, they are less able to move to other locations to find a job whereas older workers can relocate their entire family. Also, because youth are being supported financially by their parents, they often wait longer before accepting a job, meaning that they will remain unemployed for longer periods of time. Increased Education Expectations: Today’s youth are expected to have more education to compete for jobs than any other generation of workers that came before them. This phenomenon is referred to as credential or academic inflation. Youth are expected to stay in formal schooling for longer periods of time. Employers use credentials as a way to determine whether or not youth applicants would be potential good employees, requiring youth to seek out education which delays their entry into the workforce. The use of education credentials as a method of screening potential employees is forcing more and more youth to remain in formal schooling longer in order to meet requirements of employers. As a result of the increasing amount of time spent in school, this has also increased the average age when full-time employment begins. Finally, a drawback of this increased focus on academic credentials is that today’s youth may be receiving education that is preparing them for jobs that may not exist or jobs that, in reality, have very few prospects. Temporary Contracts: Young people today...
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