Next week marks another academic year. Now more than ever the future for coming graduates is bleak.
In March, University of Windsor president, Alan Wildeman said, at a CBC town hall meeting on post-secondary education that the purpose of university is higher education and not necessarily employment.
That’s unfortunate news for those hoping to get an edge on the competition, but a university education is not the ticket to prosperity it once was.
“If you have more people with higher qualifications, they’re going to raise the entry level. No one is ever going to advertise a job anymore where they didn’t throw a BA in right away,” said University of Windsor coordinator of interdisciplinary programs Larry Kulisek.
The populace is more educated than ever before and still not educated enough.
“If you do an honours in Psychology it doesn’t make you a psychiatrist, psychologist, or even a counsellor, because if you don’t do an MA or graduate work you’re an educated person, but that doesn’t slot you in and most professions are requiring more training,” said Kulisek.
Generation Y (the generation born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s) has been called narcissistic, entitled, and lacking in work ethic, yet today many young workers find themselves in unpaid internships or underemployed doing the same work they used to push through school.
While studies have shown young people on-the-whole are inherently narcissistic, can youth really be considered unrealistic for wanting decent pay instead of making lattes or dunking fries in a deep fryer?
In July, employees at a Halifax Second Cup started trying to unionize, a move prompted by the lack of real fieldwork its staff can’t find.
“Job security is basically gone,” said Christian Trudeau, a tenured University of Windsor Professor of Economics. “There’s more risk now when you start a career. The days of knowing you’re going to go into a job and work there for 30 to 40 years are almost gone, except for guys like me.”
Canada has faired better than many countries since the recession. Natural resource exports from Canada play a large factor in this. Individuals from around the globe have gone to Alberta to make a quick buck in the oilsands. Australia faired well for the same reason with coal exports: good paying, back breaking work if one can take it, and hardly conducive to a higher education. The untrained look to this employment, as there are less and less manufacturing jobs, and globalization becomes rooted deep into the collective economy.
“There’s no reason we should have these jobs, and no one else should. Sure it’s tough for these workers and for our economy, but at the same time workers get worse but consumers are much better off,” said Trudeau. “It’s always been a challenge to co-ordinate the formation of graduates with the needs of the economy, especially now with everything changing so fast. Everything is dependant on the world market.”
So what are grads to do these days? The education can’t be negated or just tossed aside carelessly. Instead, everyone has to work harder andbe more efficient while working longer hours and getting paid less with no security.
Although unemployment is currently on the decline, 8.7 percent in August of 2009 at its highest, and now 7.1 percent nationally as of June, the federal government is looking at getting more skilled trades persons into the workforce by making companies give apprenticeship training when they bid for government contracts or through tax credits.
“The politicians, they say we need more mould and tool makers. Fine, maybe in the short run,” said Kulisek. “The colleges tend to draw from the local area, and how many skilled tradesmen can be absorbed into the local area?”