Friday, 15 January 2016

Generation Jobless

I know I whinge and whine about the problematic issues rife in Canada. The struggles that we, as a nation, face are great. The issue of unemployment specifically is the reason I haven't blogged recently. In October last year, I moved to Victoria, British Columbia, to find a job. After I left Kuwait...So long ago...I hoped, rather than believed, I'd find work in Canada. For the sake of brevity, I'll simply say, I didn't find full-time work that paid the bills.

I have a master's degree and have work experience in Canada, Japan and Kuwait. I have worked as an instructor/teacher for more years than I care to admit. In addition, I've worked as a writer and editor for my own private business which, in the past, did very well. However, the market in Ontario was tough and making enough money was almost impossible. Finding myself almost $40k ($40,000CAD) in debt from my master's degree (the cost was so high because I went to school out-of-province), and then still another $15k in debt from my undergraduate degree, I began to panic. I sent out roughly 150 resumes which yielded zero offers of employment. Unfortunately, minimum wage positions wouldn't cut it. I was looking at either filing for bankruptcy or working abroad. I chose the latter.

So why haven't I been able to secure work in Canada, you ask? I don't know exactly why. Unemployment rate in Canada is at 7.1%. The Canadian dollar is weak. Perhaps it's a combination of the two? Could it be a result of corporations hiring foreign workers instead of Canadians? That DEFINITELY has to be contributing to the problem. One article I read argues that machinery and robots are able to provide the services that people once used to. Regardless, I knew I would have to make changes, so I sought professional help with my resume, networked, followed-up with the resumes I've sent out, read as much as I could about how to compete in today's job market and attend free sessions about how to land a job. When I knew I was really struggling, I went to staffing agencies. All this work resulted in zero job offers. 

Although it killed me to see, I felt a little comfort that I wasn't alone. My brilliant best friend received her master's degree from a prominent Toronto university in environmental planning and is also unable to secure a job in her field in the GTA (greater Toronto area). Another good friend of mine received his MBA and cannot find work in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. I realized that I'd made a mistake. I'd grown up hearing from teachers, family and the media that without a degree, I'd never secure a good job. Now, I wish I'd become a mechanic, an electrician or even gone into the pet care industry. I've yet to meet a poor mechanic in my hometown-even better, I've met an incredible woman who is an electrician, owns a business, has taught at colleges and is training her daughter to do the same! LOVE it!!!

I don't have regrets, and I'm thankful for all that working abroad has offered me, but it's unstable, doesn't always pay well, and even if it does, the work environment/expectations can be unrealistic and unhealthy. I wish the EFL/ESL world would change whereby there was a union in place to protect workers, something that will, sadly, never happen.

I'm disappointed and frustrated and angry at myself for buying into the hype that a degree has worth. Our market is now saturated with over-qualified Canadians vying for positions as a cashier at the grocery store. The government, corporations and post-secondary institutions are not making the situation any better. My advice, not that it's worth much, is this: go into the trades, invest where you can, and don't rely on anyone or anything to help you get ahead because, let's face it, everyone's in the same position and they're willing to fight you for it.

So folks, I'm off, yet again, for work abroad. I leave next month after four stressful months in BC where all I did was realize that I'm not good enough to work in my home country. For the next generation, the only way to stop this is to stop giving money to the government and to universities. Work hard and save so that you don't need to rely on the banks or the NSLC (national student loan centre) to pay your way to school. Go into the trades UNLESS you're planning on becoming a nurse/doctor/surgeon/vet, lawyer or professor, and do NOT think you're going to go anywhere without amazing computer skills.

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