All Posts Tagged With: "job market"
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?”
But jobs available don’t match students’ interests
It’s been a tumultuous few years for those graduating with sociology doctorates in North America. In 2009, the number of job listings for entry-level professors plunged by 35 per cent.
But new numbers show that listings increased 32 per cent in 2010 — a near recovery. It’s all in the American Sociological Association’s new report, Moving Toward Recovery.
It’s not all good news, however. The report also surveyed PhD candidates and found some major mismatches between their “areas of special interest” and the jobs that were available in 2010.
One of the widest gaps is in criminology (a.k.a. social control, crime, law and deviance), which made up 31 per cent of all postings on the ASA’s job site in 2010, but was only listed as an area of special interest for 18 per cent of PhD candidates whom were surveyed by the ASA.
Ambitious grads find big rewards—in between toys and housewares
Loblaw, Wal-Mart, L’Oréal and Abercrombie & Fitch are lacing up their gloves and pounding banks, hotels and financial service firms in the perennial grudge match to entice the world’s top graduates. They’re the scrappy underdogs going up against the established heavyweight champions, but now they’re employing the same secret weapon that’s been up the sleeves of the other industries for years—manager-in-training programs.
“In an environment where Loblaw is competing with Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart and, soon, Target, there’s no room for complacency. It’s a ruthlessly competitive landscape,” says Jeff Muzzerall, director of the Corporate Connections Centre at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “Now is a wonderful opportunity for retail to showcase itself.”
Alix Carter never expected her dream HR job to involve walking the aisles of a grocery store or asking a group of colleagues huddled between rows of frozen pizza and granola bars trivia about the founding of the company. But now, she says, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“A lot of people might see retail and get scared away,” she says. Grad@Loblaw “showcased an industry that is overlooked by a lot of graduates.”
Should schools be in the business of turning out employable grads?
Carlie Deneiko is from the tiny town of Watrous, Sask. (population 1,800), more than an hour’s drive southeast of Saskatoon. As a teen, she dreamed of travelling the world, but her priorities are shifting. “I’ve got a boyfriend, and I’m really settled,” says Deneiko, 20, a student in the faculty of education at the University of Regina. “It’s becoming more important to me to get a job.”
Deneiko’s not too worried: her education comes with a job guarantee. She’s one of 355 students enrolled in a new program at the University of Regina that promises students they’ll land a job—in their chosen field—within six months of graduation. If they don’t, the university gives them another year of tuition for free. The UR Guarantee has other bells and whistles (like internships and work programs), but for Deneiko, it’s that extra year of free tuition that pulled her in. “If I don’t get a job, I’m coming back to get my special education certificate,” she says.
Since it launched in September, the UR Guarantee has been incredibly popular. Enrolment in the program, which is open to all first-year students, has already jumped by 24 per cent, says president Vianne Timmons. “We looked at students’ motivation for attending university,” she says, “and realized they’re looking at a degree primarily as a launching pad for a career.”
Universities have long been seen as ivory towers, leaving job training to colleges and vocational programs, but that’s changing fast. “It’s not the old, green college on the hill anymore,” says Lloyd Axworthy, president of the University of Winnipeg. “The marketplace has changed,” adds Ronald Bordessa, president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). “Some universities have moved quickly. Others haven’t, and are having greater difficulty attracting students.”
Regina isn’t the only university in the job guarantee business—tiny Sainte-Anne in Church Point, N.S., offers its education and business graduates free tuition if they haven’t found work after four months. It’s a radical approach—but some schools don’t even track how many graduates go on to get jobs in their field. Monitoring this is “absolutely critical,” says University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera. “If your students are not finding employment, it means that employers are not finding them competitive.” Even so, it’s hard to know which schools are turning out the most employable grads, which leaves some industry leaders shaking their heads. “Amazingly enough, [employability] is not the metric for success that universities follow,” says businessman Reza Satchu, who teaches the highly successful economics of entrepreneurship course at the University of Toronto.
You can hold a job while in school, just don’t expect much else in terms of support
We have an international readership here, and I received some mail the other day from a student hoping to study in Canada.
I am an international student considering education in a college in Toronto. I am also depending on part time jobs to take care of my living expenses. Now that the announcement has been made that recession is over in Canada, is the situation still the same or got better now and how do you expect it to be in the near future. Thanks in advance.
First, let’s talk about working on a student visa. It’s not nearly as difficult as it once was. The extended details can be found at this government website. The short version is that you can always work on campus with no restrictions. For off campus employment, you need to apply for an additional work permit that will allow you to work 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during breaks and in the summer. I gather that’s a pretty straight-forward application and shouldn’t be a problem. Though as the site says, merely having the permit doesn’t guarantee anyone a job.
Now, I can’t swear that’s going to be enough to support your studies. In fact, once you combine living expenses and tuition the odds that you can earn enough to entirely cover your studies are probably quite slim. I’m not sure if that’s going to be a problem for the student who wrote me in this case, but it’s something that international students need to know. And it leads me around to an interesting point.
Quite a lot of international students are interested in studying here. I suppose that’s a good thing, and reflects well on Canada. But some of the questions they ask about funding, scholarships, and covering their costs suggests that not all international students understand how they are regarded by Canadian institutions and governments. Rightly or wrongly, no one really believes that Canada has an obligation to fund or support the studies of every student who wishes to come here. Those who can pay the full cost of their tuition (without the usual subsidies for domestic students) and also cover their living expenses are welcome to do so – but the idea that society owes people the chance to pursue post-secondary education just doesn’t apply to international students. The very few merit-based scholarships that are available are purely selfish in nature. The hope is that Canada will retain the best and the brightest.