Youth employment worsening, and we are not helping young people

Youth unemployment in Canada — does anybody care about Canadian kids?

Youth unemployment in Canada — does anybody care about Canadian kids?

According to StatsCanada, approximately 420,000, or 14.3 per cent, Canadian youth under 24 are unemployed.

That is one in 10, but some say the real number is much higher, around 20 to 25 per cent. Even the Statistics Canada rate is more than double as the national average.

Canadian industry prefers to hire experienced workers over new graduates. The Conservative government therefore opened the doors to unprecedented numbers of immigrants, up to 250,000 every year and 45,000 mostly Asian immigrants arrive in Vancouver every year alone.

These workers mostly have to be language trained (taxpayer money), culture integrated, and their education and skills are often not coherent with Canadian standards.

Canadian companies also don’t take apprentices. Some of the big industry in Lacombe County, for example, takes minimal numbers of apprentices for six months, sometimes one year, and then lets them go in favour of journeyman with five to 10 years of experience. Some don’t take any apprentices.

For high school grads who choose a higher education, the average student loan, depending where you look, is $30,000 to $60,000.

Our Canadian kids then have two choices to pay the interest on these high student loans: fixed rate of prime plus five per cent, or a floating rate of prime plus 2.5 per cent. A student loan of $30,000 on a fixed rate and an average 10-year period to pay it back is $ 45,657.

The normal interest rate for a line of credit from a bank is prime plus one per cent, so our government is making money from our students. After six months, the student loan has to be paid back (while interest is accrued from the time of graduation), whether the student has a job or not.

This is our investment in Canada’s future.

If a student has to pay back their student loan for 10 years or longer, they are not able to purchase a house or even a car.

This will obviously not contribute to our economy. Many baby boomers housing are their adult children who cannot find work, or are working for minimum wage, as well as helping out financially with the ever-increasing tuition and purchases such as cars. After all, it is difficult with almost no public transport system to find work without transportation.

Recently, CBC aired a documentary on Canadian companies hiring grads as ‘in terms’ and not paying any wages, so about 300,000 Canadian grads are working for free. Bell was one of these companies.

The U.S. now has a $1 trillion in student loan debt. The Canadian student loan debt is estimates at $22 billion!

How will a Canadian post-secondary graduate pay off their student loan while unemployed or working on minimum wage, because they can’t get work in their field?

Thousands of teachers, even engineers graduates, and can’t find work. Years after graduating from university, young women in Canada are working in coffee shops for minimum wage.

Some countries in Europe, however, invest in their future. In Germany, for example, university education is free, always was, no student loans. Every large company takes apprentices and lets them finish their four years in the same company. Many of these young people are then hired by the same company. Apprenticeship originated in Germany. Also, students have the option to have a finish in high school at age 16 to proceed to an apprenticeship.

The Canadian education system must incorporate skills that enhance student employability directly into the curriculum. Education and work-related training must be combined. This would allow youth to find jobs while in school and close the learning gap that exists when students transition into the work world.

The Harper government needs to legislate the apprenticeship program and think more about our own children and their future than always acting in the interest of big industry.

Foreign workers are snapping up jobs and our Canadian youth are on the streets, jobless.

I doubt that a Canadian university graduate who put four, five or even seven years into difficult studies, stress and student loan debt does not want to be interdependent and working.

Show the government where our priorities are — with our children or the big industry?

Ilse Quick

Lacombe

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