Sep 13, 2010

Young university grads having a hard time in the Canadian labour market


An interesting chart from The Economist shows that over a third of young university graduates in Canada end up working in low skilled jobs. In fact, Canada is second only to Spain in the OECD when it comes to young grads employed in jobs that fail to take advantage of their skills.

Chart showing the percentage of university grads employed in low-skilled jobs in selected=

There is certainly lots of anecdotal evidence that young graduates are finding it harder and harder to get jobs in their fields these days. I have several friends with degrees who are now serving in restaurants or working in grocery stores. Those lucky enough to get jobs that use their skills often have to contend with short contracts that provide few benefits and little job security. Getting a permanent full-time position after university is almost unheard of these days.

This graph is the first piece of quantitative evidence I’ve seen on the issue, and it raises serious questions about the prospects of young grads in the labour market.

Canada has a large low-wage sector, which has persisted despite economic growth and our increasingly better-educated workforce.

The graph above shows that there are some very well educated workers toiling in the low-skilled low-wage sector in Canada. Telling people to get more education is not a good solution to working poverty. It’s time to take a look at the demand side of the equation.

Canada invests little in research & development and is exceedingly focusing its export strategy on selling commodities with virtually no value-added manufacturing on top. Coincidence? I think not.

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