By Alex Lambert
Youth unemployment in Canada is experiencing some positive trends, according to a report released Tuesday by the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.
The report outlines the misconception many people have that youth unemployment in Canada is at its worst, and argues that what we should be worried about is youth underemployment.
“Conventional thinking seems to be that the jobless situation for youth has never been so bad. It’s challenging, that’s for sure. But it has been worse,” the association’s president and CEO Anthony Ariganello said in a press release.
“The situation today is not dire and so we need to reinforce the message to youth to not despair,” he said.
Statistics cited in the study show that unemployment for youth during the most recent recession was lower than during recessions that occurred in the 80s and 90s.
The highest number for youth unemployment in the last recession was 15.2 per cent, compared to 19.2 per cent in 1983 and 17.2 per cent in 1992.
Other positive findings in the study include the fact that in 2011, Canadian youth, defined in the report as those between the ages of 15-24, found jobs faster than any other age group, had a low chance of being unemployed due to layoffs, and in general, tended to have relatively short periods of unemployment.
When it comes to youth underemployment, the report states that its existence can be attributed to “the underutilization of skills and labour”, which refers to youth whose skills and availability are not being used to their full potential.
Rock Lefebvre, the report’s co-author, told Humber News that in order to combat youth underemployment, Canadians must work to “align the prospects of young people with the actual opportunities in the Canadian workplace.”
Lefebvre said Canadians’ educational goals are not meeting up with market demand. For example, he said there should be less focus on post-secondary and more promotion of areas like trades, where there are skill shortages.
“We’re probably producing too many specialized people for the number of jobs available in Canada’s market, and that’s why we have to reorient people towards where the opportunities lie.”
The report offers a number of recommendations to combat and better understand the causes of youth underemployment in Canada, including launching a research initiative to study the issue, better use of school-employer partnerships and improving competitiveness of businesses in a number of ways, such as encouraging them to invest in machinery and equipment, and research and development.