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Fewer youth getting permanent full-time jobs

By: Daniel Taylor [1]

BELLEVILLE – Many post-secondary students fear the possibility of being unable to find full-time work after finishing school.

“I know a lot of people are worried about getting full-time jobs because a lot of people do graduate from however long they’re in school and end up with a part-time job that has nothing to do with their program”, said Ryan Proteau, a second-year business accounting student at Loyalist College. He worries about finding full-time work when his program ends.

And he’s not alone.

On Monday, Statistics Canada [2] released a report that summarized the last 40 years of youth employment, focusing on the ages 15-24 who are not full-time students.

According to the report, the jobless rate among young people has pretty much stayed the same over that period. Youth unemployment was at 13.2 per cent last year, compared to 12.4 per cent in 1976.

But, the number of young people getting full-time or permanent jobs has fallen substantially over the last four decades.

Loyalist College sports management student, Joseph Mohammed also worries about finding full-time work. He feels more opportunity should be given to young people coming out of post-secondary.

“Youth are the building blocks of the future for certain companies, so, I feel like those companies should give the opportunities to young kids. They can work their way up and work for a company for the rest of their lives rather than giving it to someone who is just going to retire in four or five years”, said Mohammed.

Stats Canada found that of all the young people who are not full-time students, fewer are employed in full-time positions that involve 30 hours or more a week than there were four decades ago. From 1976-1978, the percentage of the youth population with a full-time job averaged 76 per cent for men aged 17-24 and 58 per cent for women in the same age group.

From 2014 and extending to the third-quarter of 2016, the corresponding percentages were 59 per cent for men and 49 per cent for women.

Lyndsay Kerik, an employment and career advisor at Loyalist College, has seen the decline in full-time job positions for young people.

“Honestly I wasn’t really that surprised (referring to the Stats Canada report). We’ve seen a flux in the labor market going towards less full time and more contract, more part-time over the last few years and I think that’s simply a means of how companies are trying to adjust and deal with budgetary constraints,” said Kerik.

“Sometimes companies who don’t want to let staff go end up having to create alternate arrangements. That means they are not permanent full-time. In discussions with a lot of our colleagues we were seeing that same thing across the board. It’s happening with giant companies; it’s happening with smaller companies.”

“When you have full-time employees it typically means you then have to pay pensions and benefits, or there’s additional costs to the company and that seems to be one of the things unfortunately, really unfortunately, that’s dissipating in the employment market,” Kerik explains.

Despite the recent change in full-time positions for youth, Kerik said there may be more job opportunities opening up for young people in the near future.

“A lot of the baby boomers are holding on, they’re holding on for that financial stability, there’s lots of worry of oh my gosh am I going to be able to survive off a little bit of pension and so they’re working a lot longer. And for a lot of them now it’s their children who are staying in school longer and they’re trying to support their kids, so that certainly affects the fact that job openings are minimal.”

“But, we’ve had employer panels with members of the Human Resources Professional Association for the last few years say that they see five to seven years from now that the entire labor market is going to change. It’s going to be a job seekers market.”

These changes in job types were not unique to Canada. In many other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the prevalence of part-time and temporary jobs as a share of total employment has risen since the mid-1980’s.