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Vancouver, Canada — on October 30, The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) released a report on youth unemployment in Canada arguing that the situation is not as dire as commonly perceived. Despite the challenges experienced by unemployed youth (15 to 24 years) in Canada, hardship caused by joblessness during the most recent recession and recovery was more moderate compared to that of the recessions in the early 80s and 90s.
“Conventional thinking seems to be that the jobless situation for youth has never been so bad. It’s challenging, that’s for sure. But it has been worse,” says Anthony Ariganello, president and CEO of CGA-Canada. “The situation today is not dire and so we need to reinforce the message to youth to not despair.”
The highest level of youth unemployment during the recent recession was 15.2 percent – evidently below that experienced in the previous recessions. Youth unemployment swelled to 19.2 percent in 1983 and 17.2 percent in 1992.
And youth are finding a job quicker than any other age group. In 2011, nearly half (46.8 percent) of unemployed youth were able to find a job within 1 to 4 weeks and the average duration of unemployment experienced by youth did not exceed 11 weeks. Long-term unemployment was not common among youth either: only a small proportion (5.4 percent) of youth remained without a job for more than one year. Instead, youth is most often unemployed while transitioning from school to the labour market and only a fraction of them are jobless due to layoffs.
Despite the positive trends, the big issue is underemployment.
“Underemployment is a big issue not only for youth, but for people of all ages,” says Rock Lefebvre, co-author of the report and vice-president of Research & Standards at CGA-Canada. “And while we know how harmful underemployment is for individuals as well as to the economy, we know far less about what causes it.”
To improve the understanding of the causes of youth underemployment, CGA-Canada recommends launching a research initiative focused on the issue. Advancing the Canadian economy towards a greater reliance on higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs is also crucial.
For that, CGA-Canada encourages businesses to improve competitiveness by investing in machinery and equipment and resource and development (R&D), innovation, and aggressively expanding in foreign markets. Greater use of school-employer partnerships may help to improve the match between employers’ needs and workers’ skills as well as help youth make informed decisions about their field of study.
For more information on youth unemployment and the report, visit: www.cga.org/canada/employment.