Youngster At Work


The next generation at work–or not?

 In the news media, recent economic projections indicate that the future income and employment rates of young adults of today are in decline. The value of an university education appears very limited nowadays, and is very different from previous generations: many do not find jobs in their field. On the contrary, pursuing a degree seems a recipe for the accumulation of a crushing debt load, without an ability to pay it off. At the same time, having a degree does not guarantee a permanent, full time job anymore, or that  pension benefits are attached.

In BC the level of employment and the level of income has  decreased significantly over the last seven years for the age group of 15 to 25 year olds, according to an article of today’s Globe and Mail titled Lost In The Crowd. 

The number of full time jobs are diminishing and pay levels are declining.  Employers cut corners by only hiring part time workers for whom they do not have to pay certain benefits. A young person might have to get 2 or 3 low paying jobs in the service industry just to keep her head above water. Housing prices have skyrocketed in the last ten years: purchasing a home has become out of reach for many young families. 

Canada has a well educated workforce with high rates of university educated young people, who have trouble finding full time employment in their field. At the same time, trades jobs are unfilled and cheaper (lower paid) foreign skilled workers are attracted to fill vacant positions. Well paid positions in technical trades are available, but seem less attractive to Canadian graduates, as the myth is still strong that one doesn’t get anywhere in life without a university education. The expectation to earn $60,000 a year in your first job is misplaced and out of touch with reality.

The results of not finding a well paid job and having to work hard to make ends meet, or being unable to achieve that level of comfort on their own, is that many young people return back home to live with their parents (boomerang children). Increasingly, many high school grads have not even moved out and linger on at home, having gotten used to the idea of having everything they want at their finger tips in their parent’s home. Others really tried to leave, but failed. 

In the meantime, baby boomers who should by now retire and make space for the next generations, are hanging on to their jobs. They feel their prospects of maintaining their standard of living in retirement has diminished after having lost some of their retirement income in the economic crisis of 2008. Now that they also have to pay longer for their child who came back home, they feel they have to keep earning the same Income: they are caught in the middle.

 Yes, this has become a vicious circle, one that is not yet addressed by any provincial or federal government. When the retirement of many boomers is postponed, the hiring of a young workforce is delayed. No government incentives are offered that I know of to get boomers to retire.Young people are kept in limbo in service jobs and do not get a chance to start in their field of study. This is not a healthy situation for a country. It appears that this switch to part time jobs has become a permanent labour situation.

 I have seen some minor advertising in the media intended to increase the flow of high school graduates to the trades. On the other hand, many universities advertise vigorously to attract more students. This increasingly is an avenue for people with means to find a away to immigrate to Canada. Nothing against that, but the competition becomes more fierce for the fewer positions that require a university degree.

 I believe it’s a job for education ministers and trade ministers to stimulate high school grads into a different direction that is more advantageous for the economy and for Canadian society. As well, to encourage the changing of the guard, incentives should be offered to get boomers to retire, starting at 55,  with reasonable severance packages for those who did save and are just falling short. We boomers need to  make place for our young people.


In Europe turn over of the workforce was consistently promoted about twenty years ago with much effect: no seniors are hanging on for dear life in jobs they are burnt out from. No seniors need to be greeters at the Walmart doors to subsidize their poor pensions.

This takes political will and changing of attitudes.  Having a work ethic is fine, but workaholics need to focus on their health long term, and on retiring while remaining active instead of fearing being sidelined and finding nothing to do, and be bored out of their heads.

By the way, the economic crisis in the EU was NOT caused by government funded social benefits that were too rich, as some will maintain in North America. That is plain propaganda and incorrect. The direct cause of the global crisis that also hit Europe and other areas in the world, was due to the fall-out of the massive fraud and schemes for more profits by investment banks (sub prime mortgages etc.) in the US, and also in Britain to some extent. The sure fire investments in US stocks and real estate proved to be not so save as many thought. 

 Yes, now to get out of that black hole, national austerity measures proposed by the EU and other nations’ governments might be a solution, although many citizens do not agree with that solution and are understandably still very angry. I can see their reason for anger: the schemers at the top got away unscathed and did not lose their millions/billions, while the rest of the world has to pay for those shenanigans and the US bankers illegal, fraudulent behaviours are left unpunished.

What is more astonishing is that the past US administrations that deregulated the banking world in the name of free market primacy are also excused. Even worse: the  representatives of that blame-the-victim movement are pushing a candidate (Romney) without shame, blaming the current, democratic administration of trying to nationalize the country for trying to make life better for all Americans, not just the rich. Voices are heard in that world that it was the greed of the buyers of those sub prime mortgages that made them go in over their heads, not the banker that offered those. So much for justice! 

Back to the subject of changing the guard. It is a well known economic belief that when everybody in the productive years of our lives has  employment that provides job satisfaction and can fund our costs of living (plus extras such as education),  economic stability follows.

If we can bring that principle to the world as a global community, world peace will follow. A small step for mankind starts at home.


Please, rate this post at the top, “LIKE” on Facebook, and leave a comment if you have a remark to any of my questions.

Do you think it is wiser to tighten our belt now as boomers, downsize, send your child on his way, giving our children the incentive to fend for themselves?

Do you insist your child gets some work experience when they hit 15, even if it’s in a Mac job?

 Do you think our governments have a role in making early retirement happen, lead the way, and spend some tax money on it?

Do you think tax money should be spent on employers to provide training and apprentice subsidies, so trade college and high school students can start their on-the-job training?

 If you are a boomer and still working, would you be able to do with less and retire, so someone’s child might get that job you will vacate?

 And the bottom line: do you trust your child to look after you if it so happens that, in spite of all your preparations, you can’t look after yourself anymore? Or is this lack of trust in your child’s ability and intent a reason why you keep working and accumulating more retirement income

About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
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  1. adanesuazo says:

    Right on the spot. During this Spring’s student protests in Quebec, one of the key issues I personally felt was worth debating was the government’s role in helping to offset newly-graduated individuals’ low likelihood of getting a good paying job upon graduation. I wrote a post about this in my blog. Give it a read whenever you get a chance:

    Thank you for a great post!

    • Hi,
      Thanks for your comments. I wondered if you had any comments on the just elected Anglophone Mayor of Montreal and what that might mean for the city.

      • adanesuazo says:

        Hi Johanna,

        I think Applebaum’s appointment (do take into account the word appointment) as the first anglophone mayor in Montreal was a bit too stretched out by the media here. Firstly, he is only serving as interim Mayor of Montreal, and secondly, he was not elected Mayor in an election, rather he was voted in at City Council.
        I don’t think this will have that big a repercussion to Montreal as a city. What I think will be interesting to see is how he deals with the budget issue, which was somehow left in the air due to corruption allegations and the Charbonneau commission.
        Furthermore, for our next municipal elections, we have to see the role that a person like Denis Coderre plays as potential candidate (and francophone…)

  2. So pleased with your response. I read your article about the Quebec situation and agree. Too bad that most people are not really flexible enough to dream a different society.
    Thanks for your support.
    Johanna van Zanten

  3. Hi Adan,
    Thanks for your reply. I was not aware it was not an election, I will pay more attention, now that my daughter moved to Montreal and I will visit more often in the future. When will the next municipal elections take place? I loved the city!

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