Are You an Unemployed Geospatial Graduate under 30? You’re Not Alone
Last September, GoGeomatics conducted a survey at their cross-Canada Back to School Socials to get a better picture of the demographics of their participants. GoGeomatics socials are free monthly networking events for everyone in the geomatics community. They take place in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Niagara. This is my second article in a series analyzing the survey results. See the first article, outlining some findings of the survey, here.
One finding that surprised me was the high number of those who reported they were unemployed, particularly in Calgary. Of the seven cities surveyed, Calgary reported the highest unemployment. This doesn’t reflect Alberta’s lower-than-average unemployment rate (currently at 5.3%), nor does it support the popular belief across Canada that finding a job in Calgary is no challenge. Given that this survey was conducted before the drop in oil prices, I would assume that it’s only gotten worse since then.
Granted, part of the reason for this could be due the type of people who tend to come to a social – networking is certainly more important for people who are unemployed, and looking for work. But as the majority of the respondents were young, it also reflects the struggle that young people are having finding meaningful work.
For many Canadians under the age of 30, whether they are in the geomatics sector or not, finding work is a struggle. That means it’s even harder to start building experience in the career they went to school for. The Conference Board of Canada reports by 2020, 40% of all new jobs will be in skilled trades. Where does that leave all the people with a university education?
The Canadian education system is known to be one of the best in the world. Despite this, disconnect between the education supply and workplace demand contributes to Canada’s 13.4% youth unemployment, almost double the national unemployment rate. The rhetoric and the results simply don’t match up, and the current government does not seem to be focusing on strategies to help youth overcome their many barriers and obstacles to employment. Inadequate government spending has resulted in a lack of resources to improve Canadian youth unemployment assistance programs.
Are young adults just too lazy to put in the hard work? Some baby boomers might think so, but in reality, youth are ready and willing to work, but just can’t seem to land meaningful jobs.
It used to be the employer’s responsibility to provide training on the job, but some companies have been relieved of that responsibility. These days, human resources are complaining that they cannot find employees that are 100% suitable for their positions. Back in 1993, employers invested an average of $1,207 on training per employee annually. Today, that spending is down almost 40%, at $705 per employee annually. Employers seem to be scared that if they train their employees too well, and educate them too much, their employees will find better opportunities with competitor companies. Gone is the wisdom that if we take a chance on our employees and provide them with the best opportunities, they may just stick around.
Tuition fees are rising, cost of living is increasing, and job prospects and job security is diminishing. What’s the solution? In my opinion, there needs to be a movement to create more opportunities and programs to assist youth and young adults with getting into the workforce.
Youth are more educated than ever before, with 44% of young people aged 20-24 currently enrolled in school. These days, obtaining an undergraduate degree is the norm, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a big investment that doesn’t deserve big career rewards after graduation. Many young people with an undergraduate degree, finding no luck in the workforce, are returning to school despite the high cost and the uncertainty to pursue a second degree or diploma.
One major problem is the transition youth must undergo from school to the workforce. More programs need to be created to combine education and work-related training to close the gap. Co-ops and internships during a school program are great, but they do not guarantee jobs after graduation. These days, there are no guarantees!
The discussion of youth unemployment is very much related to the geomatics industry. There is too much supply, and not enough demand. An average job posting in Alberta receives about 50 applications, and only one person gets the job. Schools are pumping out graduates, but there aren’t enough positions to go around. The reality is that many young people are forced to swallow their pride and take a job other than what they studied in school. Employment and job creation statistics don’t necessarily show an accurate picture of the market, as they combine part-time and full-time jobs, making the market appear healthy and strong.
It’s not all negative. The more you read, travel, network, and connect with people, the more you become exposed to what the world has to offer and what opportunities might exist for you. As a young professional, you have to take chances, be patient, and move somewhere else if you’re not getting the job you want.