Once upon a time having a University degree was sure to offer an individual the stability of a good job and a comfortable lifestyle. Not these days. Today, having a degree is not what it’s cracked up to be as the unemployment rate for graduates is rising, doubling that of the general population. But the real problem is the rising number of uni grads who are underemployed – getting by on low paying part-time jobs that don’t require a college degree. Drowning in debt, and working in dead end jobs, a young graduates launch into adult life is being curtailed. Many are labelling them the “lost generation”. But, it may not only be the youngins who could be doomed. If the next generation fails to gain a toehold into the economy, who’ll buy boomer’s houses? Who’ll pay for social programs? Youth unemployment and underemployment is a ticking time bomb with serious consequences for everyone.
Generation Jobless explores the reasons behind why so many young Canadians are overeducated and underemployed. The reality is that today’s twenty-something’s are entering an economy in the throes of a seismic shift where globalization and technology are transforming the workplace. Automation is replacing tens of thousands of jobs at a time. Companies fixated on the bottom line are outsourcing jobs and wherever possible getting computers to do the work. Employers are placing a higher premium on experienced workers, unwilling to invest in training new entrants to the workforce. So, young people are caught in a catch 22. How do you get experience if no one will hire you without it? Many are working for free as unpaid interns, just to try and get their foot in the door. And, for the first time in history youth are facing another unique challenge – competition with their parents’ generation for the small pool of jobs that do exist. Boomers who are delaying retirement.
And it doesn’t stop there, it could only get worse. The big boys who call the shots at Canadian universities and government agencies are not actively working together to find a solution. To make things worse, Canada is the only country in the world that doesn’t have a national department responsible for education and is seen by many other countries as the most decentralized and fragmented country when it comes to helping its young people enter the workforce.
Throughout the film, several experts weigh in on what many are calling one of Canada’s most important social issues. It takes viewers to Switzerland where the youth unemployment rate is 2.8% – the lowest in the developed world. In Switzerland it is almost unheard of for a young people graduating with degrees unable to find secure employment. Dr. Stefan Wolter, Director of the Coordination Centre For Research In Education, explains how all levels of government, educators and employers, work together to ensure that education and training are linked to employment.