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I’m not entitled

Sofia Hashi | Fulcrum Staff

HOW MUCH WOULD you pay for a piece of paper? Probably not that much, but what if that piece of paper came with a lifetime guarantee of steady work and a salary? Then it might be well worth the investment. Too bad most twentysomethings today don’t feel the same way.

The paper I’m talking about is your degree—the one most university students slave away for four or five years to get, all with the dream of landing a job afterward. Unfortunately, those dreams are just that—dreams.

Recently, the Globe and Mail came out with a report on recent graduates’ or almost-graduates’ job prospects. The bleak and dreary images presented, while not new, are still disheartening to read. According to the report, Canadian youth unemployment sits at 19.6 per cent, the highest it’s been in 15 years. For young Canadians hoping to establish a life far away from their parents’ basements, it might be a more difficult undertaking than it was in the past.

What makes it worse is that the financial numbers just don’t match up. Paul Kershaw, a professor from the University of British Columbia, found that while the average young Canadian couple’s income has risen only five per cent in the past 36 years, housing prices have skyrocketed 76 per cent—hardly a promising prognosis.

Although the stories we university students hear may all be doom and gloom, there is always a glimmer of hope. With the natural influx of the job market, a lot of baby boomers should be retiring, leaving a major gap to be filled by the next bright-eyed generation. The problem is that with the economy’s current state and rising living costs, it doesn’t seem as if that gap will open up anytime soon. And recent graduates will find that most jobs offered are temporary, or are contract positions that don’t offer security, a steady income, or benefits. This, coupled with the staggering debts most students accumulate throughout their university career, means that most young Canadians will find themselves delaying a lot of their firsts—first real career, first car, first house… the list goes on.

We’re the most educated generation ever, but clearly education doesn’t equate to a profession. We’re living proof. The lie we were told as high schoolers is that a university degree will set you up for a comfortable life. A quick glance at our prospects implies that it was just that—a lie.

To those who say we’re whiners and entitled, I say we’re not. Something has to change, whether it’s companies offering more on-the-job training for young employees, or the government giving incentives to businesses that hire young workers. Universities could help by offering more co-op or apprenticeship programs to ensure their students graduate with some job experience.

Most twentysomethings I know are actively seeking work. From networking, constantly applying to jobs, and working at internships that don’t pay, it’s clear that we’re trying. Let’s just promise to keep trying and hope that something does change—and quick. After all, we can’t be basement babies forever.