Canada's Youth Face Job Crunch

Ce que j’aime du Huff Post, c’est la qualité de leurs articles, certainement mieux la multitude articles publiés dans le ‘mainstream’ qui ont tendance qu’à faire du bruit.

On parle de vrais débats, non du simple copie-coller.

Extrait de: Canada's Youth Face Job Crunch, Huff Post, 03/26/2012

Among the world’s biggest economies, Canada’s unemployment rate is quite respectable.

Canadian youth, however, might beg to differ.

·         Statistical data released earlier this month shows that the country’s total jobless rate currently sits at 7.4 percent.

·         But for those in the 15-24 age bracket, the figure is 14.7 percent — 27,000 fewer youths have jobs right now than at this time last year.

“We couldn’t be that severe and say that Canada has a jobless generation — that would be too alarmist,” said Nancy Schaefer, president of Youth Employment Services (YES), the largest organization of its kind in Canada.

“But the situation is bad, because we need our young people in the workforce, we need their energy and new ideas and we need them to pay taxes.”

Ne pas oublier, ce sont nos futurs payeurs de taxes.

Organizations like YES are pressing the government and the private sector to take more action by introducing more accessible co-op and professional job placements.

Economist Francis Fong believes today’s youth are in a uniquely difficult situation.

“In addition to the fact that youths are facing competition:

·         From their own age cohorts,

·         They are now facing competition from people who just lost their jobs during the recession and have 20 years of experience in the workforce,”

Fong said.

In a report published March 8 by TD Economics, Fong found that increased competition leads young college and university graduates to take jobs further away from the subject of their degrees, or pulls them out of the labour market altogether.

Même effets désastreux aux États-Unis.

'Boomerang effect'

According to Fong, this creates a “boomerang effect,” where university graduates,

1)     unable to find jobs in their field of study,

2)     retreat into another degree or

3)     a job that can support them but doesn’t put their training to use.

“The whole process of trying to get to where you wanted to be when you got out of university takes years longer than it used to. Taking a lower wage than you were initially expecting has significant repercussions for your long-term career,” said Fong.

He explains in the report that a one-percent rise in unemployment rates leads to a six to seven percent decrease in salary.

“It can take anywhere from 10 upwards to 15 years to close that gap of reduced wages. So your lifetime earnings are substantially lower, for the simple fact that you graduated at the wrong time,” Fong said.

Another study, out of the Yale School of Management in 2009, indicates that the timing of a person’s entry into the job market will be a direct factor of their success.

Even so, Fong believes Canadian youths still fare better than many of their international counterparts. In European countries like Greece, youth unemployment has reached a desperately high level of 51.1 percent, according to Reuters. For the first time in Greece’s history, unemployed youth outnumber employed youth.

Par contre le système financier européen est bien content de la survie de la Grèce dans la zone euro, surtout pour les banques, pour les jeunes Grecs, ils ne sont que du simple bétail humain.

Canadian youth need more help

Schaefer acknowledges that the situation in Canada isn’t nearly as bad, but she contends that it’s not being adequately addressed, either.

“We know that there are more youths who are unemployed than the recorded 14 percent, because a lot of young people aren’t collecting Unemployment Insurance or welfare,”

she said.

Bon Dieu !, il pose de vraies questions.

Only youth who collect UI or welfare are recorded in Canada’s unemployment statistics.

One group that is trying to carry youth forward is Ashoka, an international organization that fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among youth and tries to support them in their journey to stable employment.

The organization was established in Washington, D.C., in 1980. Since the first “fellows” — or beneficiaries — were selected in India in 1981, Ashoka has sponsored more than 2,000 fellows in over 60 countries around the world.

Ashoka partners with universities around the country and receives funding from corporate sponsors. This allows them to carry out entrepreneurial boot camps, seminars and assist chosen candidates in developing business action plans.

An entrepreneurial approach

Elisha Muskat, executive director of Ashoka Canada, says the organization’s main goal is to create a world where everyone is a “change-maker.”

“One of the most important things is for people to carry an idea that it’s not just the same traditional jobs that people need to look for, but that there is real opportunity to create something of your own and allow yourself to explore outside the traditional roles that are talked about in the university environment,” said Muskat.

“We encourage and support them to build action plans to how they could launch or strengthen something they are already doing,” said Muskat. The action plans are then presented to a panel of businesses who decide whether to offer the students up to $1,000 in funding to make their ideas a reality.

Some of the concepts Ashoka has sponsored include an environmental company working to redesign urban spaces, a website providing interactive education tools and an initiative encouraging community involvement in energy conservation.

However bad the current situation may seem for young Canadians, Fong cautions that we’ve seen worse.

“Looking back to the ’90s, job losses were far and above worse, job recovery was worse and we had disenfranchised youth who were rebelling because they had very little opportunity,” he said.

For Fong, the silver lining is that the current job market could lead to long-term improvements in the overall workforce.

“If the economic uncertainty acts as a trigger for a lot of people to go back to school and upgrade their skills, our labour force will ultimately be more productive and skilled in the long run.

Good Jobs Few And Far Between

When it comes to evaluating Canadian job growth, the employment numbers are just part of what worries Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets.

"It's not only the quantity, but also the quality of employment that's falling in Canada,"

says Tal.

"A lot of the jobs that are being created are low-quality, especially part-time jobs and low-paying jobs."

Exacte, même phénomène aux États-Unis, même en ayant plus de
2, 000,000 d’emplois additionnels, la masse salariale globale des employés
américains a
baissé, peut-être un emploi, mais moins bien rémunérés.

Though -- unlike the U.S. -- Canada has regained all the jobs lost in the recession, he says that an absence of good-paying jobs is the "main reason" why wages have stagnated. Adjusted for inflation, personal after-tax income is now rising at the slowest rate since 1995.

Meanwhile, the skills mismatch in many jurisdictions has left employers short on skilled labour despite still-high unemployment levels in other regions.

"If you lose a job, you don't have the skill set to go an find a job elsewhere that companies want and need," says Tal.


When Caterpillar decided to stop assembling locomotives in its Electro-Motive facility in London, Ont., it was a poignant reminder of how globalization is giving deep-pocketed, transnational corporations the ultimate trump card in bargaining with workers: a cheaper alternative.

According to Mike Moffatt, a labour expert at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of Business, because of automation and an increase in imports from lower wage jurisdictions like China and Mexico, Canadian workers are competing for fewer manufacturing jobs.

"That's given firms real power to negotiate down wages," says Moffatt, who points to the Rio Tinto lockout in Quebec as another illustration of the might afforded to companies with global reach.

Exacte, et bien sur nos médias traditionnels qui appartienne à l’oligarchie ou nos économistes d’université qui ont une sécurité d’emploi à toute épreuve vont vous parler des bienfaits de la mondialisation, pouah !

Since locking out workers at its aluminum smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean on December 31, the Anglo-Australian mining giant has used non-union workers to operate the facility at one-third capacity. With no plans to return to the bargaining table, the company recently announced it is restarting two suspended lines, and is expecting to return to full capacity in May.

As Tal maintains, "In this environment, the bargaining power of labour is diminishing."

Austerity Agenda

Just as the power has shifted toward private-sector employers, Michael Lynk, a labour law expert at the University of Western Ontario, says there is a sense that governments are becoming emboldened amid the post-recession climate of austerity that has swept from Toronto's City Hall to Parliament Hill. 

"There's increasingly an attitude of take-it-or-or leave-it by [private sector] employers, but we may begin to see that with public sector bargaining as well, where they basically say, 'You have to meet our bargaining objectives this round, and we're going to be prepared to endure a short or lengthy lockout to prove our point," he says. 

Though global economic instability recently prompted federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to pull back on his earlier commitment to deep cost-cutting in the upcoming budget, government departments are expecting spending to be slashed by between five and 10 per cent, a goal that will be met at least in part at the expense of public service jobs and benefits.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently estimated that the federal government's budget cuts could push unemployment up half a percentage point, to 8 per cent.

Pension Problems

From Dalhousie University to Air Canada, employers no longer able -- or willing -- to fund costly pension plans are mounting attempts to roll back retirement benefits, stoking labour unrest and a growing sense of financial insecurity among workers.

As Dalhouse University labour economist Lars Osberg explains, the financial crisis took a huge bite out of the value of corporate pension portfolios and the interest rate required to generate the stream of returns to make these programs sustainable.

All of which explains why experts anticipate a deepening of the trend away from inflation-protected, gold-plated defined-benefit pension plans, shifting responsibility for retirement savings from employers to workers.

Decline Of Unions

The power in numbers that enabled Big Labour to negotiate better wages and benefits in the aftermath of the Second World War is a distant memory today, as the erosion of unions continues to whittle away the strength of collective bargaining.

This is particularly true in the private sector, where unionization sits at 16 per cent of employees, less than a quarter of public sector unionization.

"I think you will see more disputes with unions having to compromise more than in the past," says Tal. "I really don't see that they have the upper hand at this point."

Given the yawning gap between private and public sector unionization, Lynk warns that pressure on public sector unions could mount as it has in the U.S. in recent months.

"The argument they've been floating is, 'Why should public sector workers have jobs for life, good pensions, and decent wages? They're eating up your taxes,'"

he says.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we're not [starting] to see the beginnings of that kind of argument here in Canada."

Question tout à fait justifiable, quand c’est le secteur privé qui paie la facture.