Youth Employment: Our next generation must make sound career decisions

CPC Career Help 2

By Sharon Graham.

Canada’s economy is dependent on a productive and versatile labour force. Our youth are the key to our nation’s future. If they make thoughtful career decisions today, they can position themselves for success in years to come. Unfortunately, many are not prepared to make informed educational, occupational, and employment choices. This “youth disconnect” might be one of the most important strategic challenges for the prosperity of our country and its people.

Next_Generation_Youth_EmploymentStatistics Canada’s publication on Employment Instability Among Younger Workers suggests that there is a “growing pool of youth who may have trouble finding stable employment that matches their qualifications and allows them to make the transition into productive adulthood.” The current youth unemployment rate is double that of the rest of the Canadians in the labour market. A great number of university and college graduates are grudgingly accepting low-skilled or part-time jobs just to get by.

Youth Employment Decisions are Crucial to Ongoing Career Success

Youth who are unemployed or under-employed are likely to have trouble throughout their career. For highly educated new graduates, interim job placement might be a stopgap alternative, but it is not necessarily a precursor to full time employment. Challenges such as significant student debt cause immense stress. Over time, working in a low-skilled job is likely to erode self-confidence. As time progresses, there is not much opportunity to practice essential skills. Those that become entrenched in their circumstances might never be able to catch up with other professionals in their career of choice.

Career Development is the approach an individual takes to ensure meaningful work throughout his or her lifespan. It is a lifelong process of learning and growing, which starts with determining a vocation and adequately preparing for the “world of work.” Properly applied, it enables one to make thoughtful and informed employment choices that will be the foundation of a fruitful career.

Career Professionals of Canada’s Certified Career Strategist Program advocates that youth – and others in the labour market – take a “careerpreneurial” stance. As the term applies, careerpreneurs take an entrepreneurial approach to their own career development. They proactively research, plan, prepare, implement, and revise goals.

In the very early years, we must prepare our children to take a careerpreneurial approach. To position themselves well, they must value and embrace two key areas of career development:

  • Labour Market Information: In order to make good career decisions, youth must have a strong understanding of the labour market. They must know and appreciate the principles of labour supply and demand, job market trends, and occupational forecasting; particularly, labour market projections as they relate to their own career and employment choices.
  • 21st Century Competency: Youth need a distinct skill set in order to thrive in the 21st century. Our “world of work” is changing rapidly. Skills that might have been vital in the past may now be unimportant. To remain viable in a constantly changing work environment, individuals must adopt new ever-evolving core competencies.

Our Youth Must Grasp the Relevance and Importance of Labour Market Information

For our youth to determine effective career paths, they must have a strong understanding of the labour market. In making career decisions, the next generation must be cognisant of shifts in the market. It is possible to predict viable career opportunities based on demographics and the evolution of industry in Canada. For example:

  • In an environment where many youth are graduating with higher education, skilled trades are quite in demand and a good career option moving forward.
  • As technology advances, the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are becoming indispensable.
  • An aging society is likely to drive an increase in medical and healthcare-related occupations.
  • Increased globalization means that professionals who can analyze and improve supply chain processes, manage logistics, or oversee product delivery are going to be in demand.
  • Increased commercial litigation puts a greater emphasis on privacy protection and corporate governance.
  • Online marketing requires specialists who can effectively perform market trend and consumer demographics analysis.
  • Engineering is a hot area because industrial tasks need to be automated further as technology expands.
  • Because data is becoming a valuable resource for companies, positions such as database administrators and business analysts are increasing in demand.

Our Youth Must Attain and Build on 21st Century Core Competencies

The University of Phoenix Research Institute: The Institute for the Future has identified ten competencies that one might need to be successful. These competencies are fleshed out in detail in their Future Work Skills 2020 report:

  1. SENSE-MAKING: Determining the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  2. SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE: Connecting to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  3. NOVEL AND ADAPTIVE THINKING: Coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
  4. CROSS-CULTURAL COMPETENCY: Operating in different cultural settings.
  5. COMPUTATIONAL THINKING: Translating vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and understanding data-based reasoning.
  6. NEW-MEDIA LITERACY: Critically assessing and developing content that uses new media forms and leveraging these media for persuasive communication.
  7. TRANSDISCIPLINARITY: Understanding concepts across multiple disciplines.
  8. DESIGN MINDSET: Representing and developing tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
  9. COGNITIVE LOAD MANAGEMENT: Discriminating and filtering information for importance and understanding how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  10. VIRTUAL COLLABORATION: Working productively, driving engagement, and demonstrating presence as a member of a virtual team.

More than ever, insightful decision making is crucial to career development. A careerpreneurial approach will no doubt enable our next generation to excel in the short-term as well as the long-term.

Note: The term “careerpreneur” was introduced by Career Professionals of Canada in 2006’s certification program. The 2013 Canadian Career Strategist eGuide fleshes out this concept in depth and provides further career development strategies for practitioners and their clients.

Spread the love
Categories: ,
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments