Canada's youth are facing challenges when it comes to employment, according to a report by the Community Foundations of Canada.
"The linear path from school to career, home ownership and family has disappeared," said Ian Bird, president and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. "We want communities to recognize that this is 'the new normal.' We need to work with youth to find better ways of preparing and supporting them for a journey that is less certain and more fragmented."
The national quality-of-life report, Canada's Vital Signs 2012 — Vital Youth, pulls together research conducted by many organizations to paint a picture of the economic, educational and societal factors affecting youth as they enter adulthood.
Among the report's key findings are:
Big debt, little work: After graduation, youth are saddled with debt that can take 14 years to pay off. Then, only piecemeal or part-time employment awaits: one in three move into a low-skilled job after graduation, said the report.
Summer jobs at all-time low: The youth unemployment rate is consistently double the national average. In June, it was 14.8 per cent compared to the national average of 7.2 per cent and summer jobs in 2012 were at the lowest level since data was first collected in 1977.
Delays in post-secondary education: Young people are delaying the start of post-secondary education to improve high-school grades or save for tuition, which has risen up to 200 per cent in some provinces in the past 20 years.
Retirees still working: Young people today face competition from baby boomers who are hanging onto jobs longer, or returning to work after retirement age.
Young people are already feeling financial and other impacts. A staggering 3.2 million of 12- to 19-year-olds in Canada are at risk for developing depression, said the report. The rate of students reporting psychological distress has risen to 43 per cent, up from 36 per cent in 1999, found a recent study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
But growing up in an era of rapid change has also helped prepare youth for some of the challenges ahead. They are tech-savvy, connected to vast networks and are passionate about public policy and global issues, said the report. They place a high value on personal relationships and want to align their values with the work they do.
"If any country can grapple with these challenges, it's Canada," said Bird. "We are one of the best educated countries in the world. But like others, we need to come to grips with the gap between who is thriving and who is being left behind. The consequences of inaction are too serious — for young people and our communities."