Tag Archives: youth

(380) Ontario’s jobless youth [Report]

Young Woman WorkingWe’ve had the weekend to absorb the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report on youth joblessness in Ontario.  Pass the Tylenol.

On Friday the good folks at the centre forced us to consider the prospect of a lost generation.  Windsor, Oshawa, Brantford and London carry youth unemployment rates at twenty percent which places them in the same danger zone experienced by many European Union member nations in recent years.  Toronto is right behind these communities with just over eighteen percent, according to the report.  The Statistics Canada data in the document indicates that in five years youth have seen little in the way of meaningful participation in recovery and can expect to continue to live impaired lives in terms of employment.

Ontario’s youth unemployment among worst in Canada: Toronto has highest unemployment rate for 15-24-year-olds
cbc.ca – includes short video

The young and the jobless: youth unemployment in Ontario
CCPA

image: young woman working by Bill Branson via Wikimedia Commons

(314) Youth & work in Ontario

Newsboy_in_1905Tip stealing, outsourcing, illegal unpaid internships, low wages, unsafe conditions, harassment.  Young workers face these and other challenges here in Ontario too often.  Luckily, those same workers have a friend in Andrew Langille, a Toronto-based labour lawyer.  His website Youth and Work spells out his commitment to them.  The blog in particular is a worthy effort, full of deft and detailed discussion of the pressures facing young workers.  Youth and Work names and shames government officials, media outlets and all kinds of businesses that impose upon students, recent graduates and other young workers – often in clear contravention of employment law.  Mr. Langille has also posted a number of interviews on the site and they are educational, powerful reading.  This is no rusty sword in the fight against precarious employment, questionable business practices, low standards of living and exploitive tendencies.

Youth and work: a website about youths, workplace law, economics, labour markets, education, & public policy

image: Toronto newsboy selling Toronto Evening Telegram in 1905 via McCord Museum/Wikimedia Commons

(313) Internal economics

tumblr_mf8ygfCJsj1qc0pgeo1_1280Internships have become a fixture of the economy.  Asking around about the value of working without pay in order to get some real world currency with employers is to solicit decidedly mixed responses.  Descriptors range from “worthless” to “depressing” and “annoying bullshit” to “it saved my life”.  Where is the truth we might wonder at a time when the employment prospects for youth seem as difficult as ever?  We are told with religious certainty that maximum education is required for success in the new workplace and being an intern is therefore to be embraced.  Young people often serve more than one and yet the internship, for many, is just another stretch on the road to nowhere, a feature of underemployment and poverty.

The downside of interning has struggled to emerge within the story of work and employment as it has come to be known since the 1980s.  The mythology of internship remains strong, in part, because there are success stories.  So, what of the time-wasting, depressing, free-lunch-for-business critique of interning?  Well, it’s becoming especially important now that legalistic arguments are being advanced that large-scale use of interns may actually be illegal, not just morally iffy, but contrary to reasonable expectations of the social conduct of business and government?

Canada appears to be catching up to the States and the UK where the negative take on interning is a much more evolved and visible story, and has been for a while.  The University of Toronto Student Union spoke up this week on behalf of some 300,000 unpaid interns across the country in nearly every kind of industry, taking a position that such internships are exploitve.  UTSU’s letter to Ontario’s Minister of Labour received a mediocre response from that office and seems to have been pushed out of the media by the Boston attacks.

Letter to Yasir Naqvi from UTSU regarding unpaid internships

Coincidentally, a social media/brand management firm in British Columbia called HootSuite has been so embarrassed, in the online world in particular, at the backlash against its use of unpaid interns it has stopped the practice and going forward will pay interns.  Clearly, their interns have been doing something of monetary value and their lawyers must have told them there is merit, and therefore risk to HootSuite, in the argument that interning is illegal.

Unpaid HootSuite interns get back pay itworldcanada.com

The book Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy by Ross Perlin made a project of understanding internships in the United States and is brutal reading.  Perlin allows for the potential value of interning, offers numerous solutions but finds too many things wrong with the phenomenon for it to remain the way it is.  He sets out the scale, meaning and implications of what has become a social norm.

These are not your father’s internships Ross Perlin 2012 NYT opinion piece

Ross Perlin speaking at Google headquarters 2011 
58:17

In the UK we find an ongoing legal case in which a 24-year-old museum volunteer, Caitt Reilly, receiving a job seeker’s benefit was required to work without wages at a retail chain called Poundland, British equivalent of a dollar store.  Ms. Reilly is part of a challenge to the legislation requiring unpaid commerical work for social welfare benefits mounted in the courts.  Her example has stirred a large amount of emotion and the government was compelled to amend a bill in parliament to prevent back pay being given to those in unpaid-work-for-benefit situations like Ms. Reilly’s.
For many observers her case speaks to the miserable nature of the current coalition government steering the UK towards austerity and seeming to lack any other idea beyond cutbacks to public programs and lower taxes for the wealthy.

Poundland ruling ‘blows big hole’ through government work schemes
guardian.co.uk – see video, other links & comments section

International Lessons: youth unemployment in the global context
53-page .pdf version of a January 2013 report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation which finds the UK comparing poorly to, yes, you guessed it, Germany when it comes to moving young people from education to employment.

image: Wikimedia Commons

(198) New Brunswick

With this alarming turn of phrase the CBC reported on the description of youth unemployment in New Brunswick as: “approaching levels seen in the poorer parts of Europe.”  Randy Hatfield, a poverty activist, was speaking at a forum in Moncton as head of the Saint John Human Development Council.

New Brunswick poverty numbers on the rise  CBC.ca

Poverty costs New Brunswickers $2 billion dollars per year
2011 report from Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

photo: Open CLip Art Library via Wikimedia Commons

(52) Crap jobs

A modest moment of truth and advocacy in the UK online press today.  How lovely, after all the recent idiocy over Murdoch, to be reminded such moments are possible.
A major HR industry figure in a western country has spoken some truth for the record.  Not a pleasant truth, no.  But surely the truth is a good place to start when assessing where it’s all going?  The only thing the chief economist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development forgot to add to his description of younger people’s job prospects was “…and in the suburbs.”
Youngsters put off work by ‘crap’ jobs, says CIPD: Employers who moan that young people lack the right attitude for jobs should acknowledge that in many cases the roles they offer are “crap” and low paid Telegraph