A new year beckons and for many people, that means a renewed sense of optimism. Whether that feeling holds for Canada's young workers might be debatable.
A story on page A10 of Thursday's Herald, headline "The lost generation," indicates that things aren't all that rosy for many young Canadians who are trying to find their place in the job market. Young people between age 15 and 24 are facing a number of challenges besides the economic difficulties faced by Canadians at large. The youth jobless rate, while down in November, still stood at 14 per cent, almost double the national average of 7.2 per cent. Contributing to the lack of available jobs is the fact many baby boomers are having to delay retirement, creating added competition for young workers.
Then there's the fact many young people with post-secondary education are still carrying a sizable student debt load, with the average such burden being a whopping $28,000, according to a Community Foundations of Canada report this fall. The report, "Canada's Vital Signs 2012 - Vital Youth," indicated it can take young people up to 14 years to pay off their debt.
These challenges are creating stress for the country's young people, as the report noted an increasing number of them are at risk for developing depression.
On the positive side, a recent report from the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada noted that youth unemployment rates are still well below historic highs of about 19 per cent that were seen during the 1980s.
The Community Foundations of Canada report also said the current adverse conditions have helped make today's young workers a particularly adaptable group. They're "tech-savvy, connected to vast networks and are passionate about public policy and global issues, even if they don't show it on voting day or via traditional institutions. They place a high value on personal relationships and want to align their values with the work they do," said the report.
That sounds encouraging. Perhaps there is reason for optimism, then, with a new year just around the corner.
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