Op-Ed

Art: Kim Wiens

Millennials are facing a job market with more freedom to move

While “not being able to hold down a job” would be seen as a character flaw for any Baby Boomer, switching jobs—and even fields—has become commonplace, and even a positive experience for many Millennials. Far from being a simple case of generational itchy feet, this pattern reflects a larger trend in Canada’s job market.

Unlike previous eras, staying with one employer for your whole career is now not only unlikely but also discouraged. Despite the divergence from previous eras, according to Laurie Lopez, partner and senior general manager at WinterWyman, in Forbes it’s better for Millennials to be in this situation because “it allows… the opportunity to gain valuable technical knowledge in different environments and cultures.” Transitioning into new roles and disciplines  at our convenience could even lead to higher job satisfaction overall.

With less job security, new job openings and a global demand for specialists and professionals in certain fields, many young workers are being hired on shorter term contracts. The increasing prevalence of  contract-type jobs creates ideal conditions for young professionals to move between jobs and explore a wider of fields than would not have been possible in the past.

One issue is how this changing trend will affect the post-employment benefits of Canadian workers in the future, from healthcare to retirement.

Workers in the U.S. are increasingly less able to rely on one employer to attain their pension and other post-employment benefits according to Forbes.

With low job security workers are less incentivized to funnel large percentages of their paycheck into pension plans at companies they’ll only work at for a short time. A report by Benefits Canada showed that in Ontario, many companies aren’t even in a position to fulfil their long-term pension commitments to employees.

A contractor relationship doesn’t require the same benefits to be provided, according to a publication by the Alberta government, since none of the benefits paid to an employee are available to a contractor.

Employees shouldn’t have to go without important benefits, and people will increasingly have to look into alternative financial options such as government bonds, tax free-savings accounts and RRSPs.

One thing is for sure, with the fluctuating economy and changing hiring patterns, it would be wise to consider the effect of switching jobs on one’s long-term financial future.

From 2002-2012, 500,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared in Canada, according to the Huffington Post. The once lucrative oil fields have lost at least 40,000 jobs last year according to the Financial Post. These examples show that even if you can snag the generic 9-5 job, you might not be able to hold it for long. The shift to contract work as the norm has created an environment that provides less security for workers, while giving them more freedom as well as reducing the commitment needed from an employer.