Skills mismatch may mean 1.5 million vacancies by 2016
On a recent February evening, Karl Eve received an emergency call from a restaurant owner in Canmore, Alta. The busy eatery had suddenly found itself with no hot water, even though the basement hot water tanks appeared to be working fine. A plumber with 10 years’ experience, Eve eventually traced the problem to a malfunctioning dishwasher and got the hot water flowing again—much to the owner’s relief.
It’s the sort of detective work Eve says he loves about his job. He also likes that his plumbing business, which he runs with his wife in nearby Exshaw, provides his family with a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. But it was a career he very nearly missed. Never a fan of textbooks, Eve ended up toiling in a southern Ontario gypsum mine after high school. It was only after moving to Alberta years later that he considered a career in the trades. A chance meeting at a church potluck led to a ride-along with a local plumber and, ultimately, an apprenticeship. “I discovered there was a lot to learn, especially when it came to math,” Eve says of his four years of training, which included eight weeks a year in a classroom. “The amount of education was very surprising to me, but in a positive way. I grasped it with both hands, so to speak.”
Eve’s story is more rare than it should be in Canada. Many consider the trades to be low-paying, go-nowhere jobs, if they consider them at all. But it’s a perception not grounded in reality, as Eve’s healthy hourly rate of $90 to $135 suggests. Nor is it one Canada can afford to maintain. Numerous studies warn Canada is facing a massive shortage of skilled workers over the next few decades as millions of baby boomers hit retirement age and exit the workforce.
Why a generation of well-educated Canadians has no future
Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer. She chose a vocation that, by unanimous opinion, represented a path to steady employment—teaching English as a second language to the thousands of immigrants pouring into B.C., a good many of whom, the experts predicted, would be making their way to Victoria, where she grew up and wished to make a home. That was back in the early 2000s, when opportunities for the young and industrious appeared unlimited. A rewarding career seemed within reach for all.
Cullins’s degree in applied linguistics was the gold standard of ESL qualifications. But she graduated in the thick of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the entry-level position she imagined would launch her career never materialized. Governments cut back on language transition programs. Resumés piled up in recruitment offices. Her calls to program directors went unanswered. “For me, that was a huge blow,” she says. “I had almost perfect performance reviews from my practicums, but I couldn’t even get an interview. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me?”
Leader recalls great teachers, friendships and… manure?
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I came to University College, University of Toronto, in the fall of 1966, studied modern history, and graduated with a B.A. in 1969. In the first week I was assigned by the seniors in residence late one night to find a bucket of horse manure, which meant figuring out where the police stables were.
The labour minister on ’80s hair and staying close to home
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt offers her advice.
I graduated from an all-girls Catholic school and I decided to do a year—before I moved away—at University College of Cape Breton, now called CBU. At the time they were not allowed to give full science degrees in what I wanted to study, which was chemistry, so I knew I would do one or two years there then transfer.
My first year, I worked at our local Dairy Queen and I lived at home so it was very much like being in high school but the academics were a lot more difficult. One embarrassing thing: first-year university, here I’m going to be in class with boys for the first time and I get the worst haircut and perm you can imagine. It was absolutely horrendous. In the ’80s we did the perm thing and I was like Olivia Newton John on steroids. It took me a long time with that bad hair to get a boyfriend in university and I’ve been terrified of getting my hair cut ever since.
‘Better’ schools wouldn’t take him. Now, he’s a master.
John Fraser is master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. His advice first appeared in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings.
The agony of “getting it right” when choosing a university to kick off the higher academic experience in life is one I never had the privilege of experiencing. I had only three humble criteria: (1) is there a university that would actually take me, (2) could I afford it, and (3) please, dear God, can there be enough distance between my home in Toronto and this mythical, inexpensive place of higher learning—preferably with water in between?
Those are not generally the concerns of either parents or students, but variations on those themes are actually not a bad way to figure out where to go. The endless searching for exactly the right high-profile place, the relentless reliance on university evaluation guides (including the highly popular one this magazine puts out every year), the phone calls to well-connected friends, the trauma visited on the victim-students, the over-the-top ambitions of concerned parents: all these ingredients can add up to a roiling broth whose only parallel seems to be the hysteria of a bride’s mother the day before the wedding.
I was jack-of-all-trades and master of none. But it worked.
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians, and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their responses are a perfect addition to our First Year Survivor blog. Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio’s Q, shared his wisdom—and opinion on tuition—with Julie Smyth.
I went to York University and I partly did that because I didn’t want to stray too far from Toronto. I was already playing in a band. My first intentions were to go for theatre but I had a passion for politics and history and that is what I ended up doing—pursing a political science and history double major that turned into a political science major/history minor with women’s studies as a minor as well.
I did all of this with some trepidation. I desperately worried throughout university that I was a jack of various trades and master of nothing. At the same time, I was a student activist and I was really involved in theatre and music and I had started this band, Moxy Früvous.
Inside the war against risky drinking on campus
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
When outraged members of Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Tennessee called a news conference in September to protest the suspension of their fraternity due to allegations of strange and excessive alcohol abuse, two words sprang to mind: Animal House. The news conference, immortalized on YouTube, is so unintentionally bizarre that it could be mistaken for an outtake from the subversive 1978 frat-boy comedy that launched a million toga parties and countless hangovers. The press conference—featuring a bow-tied, dead-serious Southern lawyer backed by an angelic legion of fraternity members in their Sunday suits—was called to refute allegations that one of their own, 20-year-old Alexander P. Broughton, had indulged in “butt-chugging” massive quantities of wine. While there was no denying that Broughton was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after a night of fraternity drinking games, the idea of an alcohol enema is “repulsive” to Broughton, his lawyer said. “He is a straight man.”
Students are doing extraordinary things with video cameras
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Andrew Cohen sat near the window of a south Vancouver coffee house, scribbling notes on flashcards to study for an urban geography mid-term. The fourth-year University of British Columbia student grew restive, so, naturally, he took to watching YouTube videos.
Before long, he came upon a video made by students at the University of Victoria. It was a so-called lip dub, a style of video in which students dance and mouth the words to a popular song in an enthusiastic show of school pride. Cohen put his books away within seconds.
“I stopped studying,” recalls Cohen more than a year later. Now 22 and done school, what he saw that day inspired him to become a filmmaker in Vancouver. “That totally changed my life.” He immediately started planning his own lip dub for UBC.
Struggling is what teaches you the habits of success
As you cram for midterm exams and freak out about November’s essays, consider this story from the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. You’re not the only one who is struggling.
In the late summer of 1999, I drove with a friend from Calgary over the Rocky Mountains to Victoria, where I was to start university that fall. I was 18 years old. My hair was tipped blond and I had the collected works of James Joyce in my suitcase. I hadn’t read any Joyce at the time. But I wanted to be a writer. And I thought his collected works were the kind of thing a writer should have when he goes off to school.
Writing novels—being a novelist with a capital “N”—was what I had always wanted to do. Reading defined me as a kid. It was what I did better than anyone else. What I didn’t do back then, at least not outside essays, was write. No short stories. No plays. Nothing to indicate a budding creative talent. And once in university, my dream of becoming a writer lasted all of four weeks. After nurturing the vision through a decade’s suburban childhood, I gave it up after less than 30 days of actual work. What happened was this.
I was enrolled in the University of Victoria’s creative writing program. In first semester, that meant one creative writing class. One night, not long after starting, I sat on a landing in my residence building grinding through an assignment. What I had written was a mess. It was supposed to be an excerpt from a short play, but it had no characters and no plot. It was just awful dialogue about nothing. So I dropped it. Not just the assignment: the whole class—and program. My first piece was terrible and so, I figured, was I.
Are these students the best dressed yet?
Jessica Darmanin’s ninth Campus Style gallery is from her trip to Queen’s University in Kingston. Dare we say that these six students are the best dressed we’ve seen so far? We found a guy who made the blazer, jeans and bowtie combo work, plus a girl whose pearls, floral skirt and purple rims popped. The common thread in their threads? Confidence. After clicking on each of these photos, why not share yours? Tweet your fall fashion to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall.
See what students are wearing this fall
Guelph doesn’t shy away from its agriculture and veterinary school roots, so it’s no surprise that leather boots and leather jackets are in style. Unlike at some schools, it seems Guelph guys can get away with hoodies and shades. These photos are from Jessica Darmanin’s campus tour where she’s keeping one eye out for campus style. Click each photo to make it bigger. Then, why not show us your style? Tweet your fall fashion photo to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall.
Wolfville, N.S. fashion in photos
East Coast surfer style is all over Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. But when they’re not in Hurley tees or Billabong hoodies, they’re at least looking more relaxed than Dalhousie kids. Check out the shots Jessica Darmanin got on the final stop of her tour of Atlantic Canada where she captured campus fashion. Click each photo to make it bigger. Then, why not show us your latest style? Tweet your fall fashion photo to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall. Next up: Ontario.
Our latest fall fashion photos
Earth tones, scarves, leather—that’s what’s in this fall at Mount Allison University, the top-ranked primarily undergraduate school in the Maclean’s University Rankings. Sackville, N.B. was photographer Jessica Darmanin’s third stop on her tour of Atlantic Canada where she’s kept one eye out for campus fashion. Click on each photo to make it bigger. After that, why not show us your style? Tweet your fall fashion photo to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall.
Our latest fall fashion photos
Summers are short in Newfoundland and the sun sets early—7:00 p.m already tonight! To escape the darkness, Memorial University students are brightening things up with neon pinks, passionate reds and Batman yellow. St. John’s was Jessica Darmanin’s latest stop as she tours Atlantic Canada with an eye on campus fashion. Click the photos to make them bigger. Then show us your campus style. Tweet your fall fashion photo to @maconcampus or post it on our Facebook wall.
In the face of challenges, Canada’s business schools adapt
Peter Thiel’s career is the stuff of business legend. He co-founded PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook, paying future CEO Mark Zuckerberg $500,000 for 10 per cent of the company back in 2004. When the social networking giant held its IPO earlier this year, Thiel took home $640 million after selling off part of his stake. Since then, Facebook shares have lost half their value, but Thiel still managed to recently pocket $400 million after a regulatory lock-up agreement for insiders expired. In other words, while just about everyone else lost money on Facebook shares, Thiel made out like a bandit. It pays to get in first.
A timeline of injuries, deaths, scandals and crackdowns
Graphic by Jessie Willms. Text by Josh Dehaas.
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A grad’s survival guide
If you choose to drink, there are a few things you need to know. We’re not talking about the legal drinking age or the dangers of drunk driving, which society has justifiably drilled into your head since you were old enough to finger paint. Instead, Yuni Kim, a recent graduate of York University who is currently in teacher’s college, offers you 10 things every student should know about drinking.
1. Keep emergency cash for taxis. At some point, you will stumble out of a bar, feel the slap of the chilly Canadian air in your face and realize you’re nowhere near home. It will be 2 a.m. and public transit won’t be there to save you. Many cab drivers won’t take debit, and there’s not a single ATM on this sketchy street. You’ll be glad you have that spare $20 to whisk you away.
2. Pick up the tab once in a while. Be cool enough to buy a round of pints for your friends whenever you have the cash to spare. This ritual builds camaraderie and chances are the karma will come back to you just as your bank account hits zero around Thanksgiving. With that said…
Tips from a student who couldn’t wait for orientation to end
This time last year I was nervously anticipating orientation, also known as frosh week or “Week of Welcome” here at the University of Alberta.
I thought that the first week would be an accurate indication of how life would be over the next few years. I was wrong and I’m glad about that, because while there were parts of orientation I enjoyed, I honestly couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Here are five reasons my welcome week sucked and what I wish universities would do instead.
1: Quit it with the blaring house music!
Before my first day of school, I’d never heard Party Rock Anthem before. That changed fast. At first it wasn’t that bad, but after LMFAO announced that “Party Rock was in the house tonight” in almost every building I set foot in, I nearly lost it. Hearing that song over and over again was especially inconvenient when I was trying to talk to people I’d just met, or concentrate on academic stuff.
For the sake of we non-party-rockers, why not keep the club atmosphere all in one area?
Student narrowly escapes crash
Jay Mangat, a Bachelor of Natural Science student the University of Calgary captured this incredible footage showing a highway sign bobbing up and down on the Deerfoot Trail in Calgary on Tuesday afternoon. The sign collapsed shortly after he passed under. He says he feels lucky to be alive.
Halifax graduates turn to the underground economy
By Veronica Simmonds
Jess Ross graduated from Dalhousie University in 2009, straight into one of the worst economies in a generation. Her degree in anthropology hardly made her a standout in a Halifax job market with an unemployment rate nearing 15 per cent.
“My only options were to go back to the job I didn’t want to go back to, work for a catering company, get a master’s degree, or just do something on my own. Which I guess was the moment I tapped into my entrepreneurial spirit,” she says.
She and some friends set up a farm stand on Agricola Street in Halifax’s North End neighbourhood and started selling her homemade, German-style bread. They conduct their business under the table, without concern for the legalities of zoning or taxation.