CUP Ottawa Bureau Chief
OTTAWA (CUP) — The notion of today’s youth being the lost generation is being challenged by a new report from TD Economics. Published Oct. 22, the study focused on the skills mismatch and labour shortages in the market over the last 10 years. It found the picture is not as grim as it has been painted.
“The notion of a severe labour market skills mismatch has topped the headlines,” reads the report. “With data in hand, we debunk the notion that Canada is facing an imminent skills crisis. At the same time, there is some evidence of mismatch across certain occupations and provinces, but the sparse, non-time series data prevent us from saying whether the situation today is worse than in years past.”
The report looked at three key areas: the Canadian labour market over the past 10 years, whether there’s a skills mismatch and what should be done about it. It honed in on areas where there are commonly perceived skills shortages or surpluses, including the trades and arts degrees.
“Some have been labelling the current youth generation as the lost generation,” said Sonya Gulati, senior economist at the TD Bank Group who co-authored the report. “For us, while we determined the unemployment rate is higher, part of the reason for that is where we are in the economic cycle.”
According to Statistics Canada, the youth unemployment rate in 2012 was 14.5 per cent compared to six per cent for workers aged 25 and up. However, the rate is historically low for those aged 15 to 24 not only in Canada but across the globe.
“Occupations widely thought to be in shortage have recorded considerably lower unemployment rates than their counterparts in the surplus camp,” reads the TD Economics report. “Still, vacancy rates outside of some pockets (e.g., trades) are not significantly higher than the national average. They also have not accelerated over the past few years.”
Gulati explained one of such examples is graduates with arts degrees.
“What we found in terms of the arts degrees is typically people graduated with a lower labour market outcome in terms of salary and it usually takes them a longer time to get a position, but over time that difference between specific fields begins to narrow,” she said.
The TD Economics report gives a number of recommendations for governments, employers and potential employees. It says job training is not happening at the same rate as it used to be. While the Conservative government’s newly introduced Canada Jobs Grant is a step in the right direction, according to Gulati more can be done to improve Canada’s job market.
Employers can “provide incentive to a worker for taking on the job training,” she said. “For instance you may get a tax break if you seek training above and beyond what you already have. You can give employers incentives to make sure the skills workers have are aligned with what the needs of the general labor market are.”
Students need to look for prospects before they enter a field of study to make sure they can get employment after graduation. Despite prospects not being as bleak as predicted, both Canada and its citizens should take steps to safeguard their employment.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor