Youth at risk due to job shortages, retirement delays

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A lot of discussion goes into discussing Gen Y’s motivators and expectations, and how HR can best attract and engage them - but it seems younger Canadians are struggling thanks to changing workforce dynamics.

"The linear path from school to career, home ownership and family has disappeared," Ian Bird, president and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada commented. "We want communities to recognize that this is 'the new normal.' We need to work with youth to find better ways of preparing and supporting them for a journey that is less certain and more fragmented."

The national quality-of-life report, Canada's Vital Signs 2012Vital Youth, pulls together research conducted by many organizations to paint a picture of the economic, educational and societal factors affecting youth as they enter adulthood.

With higher debt levels than past generations, fewer well-paying opportunities and more older workers staying in the workforce young people have a harder time finding work.

However, growing up in an era of rapid change has also helped prepare youth for some of the challenges ahead. They are tech-savvy, connected to vast networks and are passionate about public policy and global issues, the report noted. They place a high value on personal relationships and want to align their values with the work they do.

The report concluded that if young people can’t find meaningful work ,locally, they’re likely to look overseas, leaving Canadian employers to face that ever-growing skills shortage.

The report found Canadian youth are struggling because of:

Big debt, little work: After graduation, youth are saddled with debt that can take 14 years to pay off. Then, only piecemeal or part-time employment awaits: one in three move into a low-skilled job after graduation, said the report.

Summer jobs at all-time low: The youth unemployment rate is consistently double the national average. In June, it was 14.8 per cent compared to the national average of 7.2 per cent and summer jobs in 2012 were at the lowest level since data was first collected in 1977.

Delays in post-secondary education: Young people are delaying the start of post-secondary education to improve high-school grades or save for tuition, which has risen up to 200 per cent in some provinces in the past 20 years.

Retirees still working: Young people today face competition from baby boomers who are hanging onto jobs longer, or returning to work after retirement age.

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