What can parents do about youth unemployment?


When it comes to our kids, we would do just about anything for them. We want them to succeed at everything. We want them to be active, contributing members of society. We teach our kids the best we know how and when they turn the right age we send them to elementary, secondary, and perhaps post-secondary schools to learn about the world around. Herein lay the problem. School systems consider our kids’ education needs; not their career prospects.

Because today’s schools are not aligned with our business economy, Canadian youth are facing high unemployment. Higher education is not filling the skills gap in the business world; it is cranking out young graduates with little knowledge of the world of work. Four years invested into a post-secondary education only to come out and do the same job you could have done straight out of high school can frustrate any eager new graduate.

Canada Youth Unemployment Rate 2015

Universities and Colleges in Canada are continuing to enroll students into programs that supply more graduates than business demands. As a result, Canada’s changing workforce has left university and college graduates on the sidelines of its economy with unemployment rate as high at 14.8% in the last 12 months.

“At present, the development of the Canadian workforce through post-secondary education…is not sensitive to the job market. It is driven by parental, student and governmental priorities with relatively little input or direction from the Canadian business community.”

– Ken Coates, CareerReady: Towards a National Strategy for the Mobilization of Canadian potential. Taking Action for Canada Jobs and skills for the 21st Century

We send our kids to school in the hopes that they will find a good job and live fulfilling lives. However, we miss a vital step in their education when we assume someone is giving them insight into how to have a successful career. Most students require basic training in career planning and career development, but miss out in favour of more traditional academic pursuits.

It is our job as parents to prepare our kids for the world of work. Sadly, we assume sending our kids to college or university will solidify the skills they need to be successful in their careers.  As a parent, what can you do?

  1. Teach them about the economy and their role in it.

If your kids don’t understand the basics of the economy, they may not understand their role in it.

This week I had a wonderfully supportive mom inquire about hiring me to help her son in his job search. About to graduate, he is an A-student, well rounded, and well connected in his industry. The issue: he does not have the skills to go find meaningful employment. He has spent the last five years working hard to complete his Bachelor of Arts, then Masters Degree. Little to no advice has been given about exploring the world of work and learning about companies that might hire graduates like him. He has not learned how to approach employers and make meaningful connections that might lead to a job offer.

What this graduate needs is an understanding of the local labour market, a professional resume and cover letter, along with the skills to promote himself as an ideal candidate to potential employers.

  1. Invest in Career Development

According to Linkedin Talent Solutions’ 2015 Talent Trend report, “The typical career path is more fluid than ever before.” Teaching kids the basic elements of career development will establish a foundation from which they will navigate all future career decisions.

Things have changed since we were students. The advice I got from my parents was to go to school, graduate, then get a good job. It was as if it were a foregone conclusion. But the two are not connected and haven’t been in quite some time. Our kids need to realize that competition for good jobs is the norm. Good grades will only take them so far; they need to take themselves the rest of the way. Career Development gives them the tools to do the rest.

If you’re like most parents, you want your kids to have a great life; maybe you’ve even helped them financially by contributing to their academic pursuits. Don’t stop there. Knowing how to work at a job is one thing; knowing how to ‘get work’ that’s something different altogether.

A solid foundation of career advice will establish the trajectory of your son or daughter’s career right from the start.

Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors. She has been interviewed as a career expert for the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun, and has been published in multiple career-related books. | www.mypromotion.ca

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  1. Leslie-Anne McKenzie says:

    This is a very interesting article. My first thought was ” Stop giving them everything!” of course this does not apply to every student as many struggle to complete education without parental support.
    Teaching kids about the economy and their role should be something that is learned. Other than the parents, who would teach that?

    If it is in high school the focus is on academics to get the grades required for a post-secondary future. There is a course in Alberta that discusses many of these subject areas(finances, career development, job search skills, how to maintain a job). The challenge is to have students understand the importance of that course.

    Most post secondary institutions have a Career Center where students can seek assistance in career planning, work search strategies etc.
    How many students access that information? If their academic schedule is so full, “When would be the best time?”.
    With the focus on academics to be ‘successful’ in post-secondary it is challenging for many students to learn how to apply that success after completion of their education.
    Once into post secondary students need to be reminded that it is their responsibility for their own success and where and how they can obtain the skills needed for that success after post-secondary.

    Many students do not and consequently fall into the category as described in this article.

    The solid foundation may not be just from the parents. It may need to come from a variety of people that are involved with that student’s educational life both high school and post secondary.