When I grow up, I want to be… employed
Going to school in hopes of getting that career is no longer the difficult part; finding it is.
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:08
As a child, when asked what you wanted to be when you were older, the sky was the limit. Effortlessly, it could be decided that you would be a teacher, a veterinarian, an astronaut, or even ruler of the world – and of course those answers changed with each day passing.
Some aspired to do exactly what their parents did, regardless of what their parents did – because, as we all know – one of the best things about childhood is the ability to glamorize anything and everything. There was no thought process involved, no logic required, you did not bother asking how you would get to where you wanted to be and you regarded careers as though they were things that you would one day go to the store to buy for yourself. Oh, how seemingly blissful life was once upon a time ago.
Ironically enough, the things that never crossed your mind back then are the same things that stand in your way today as a twenty-something-year-old. Surely, over the past few years you have narrowed down that long list of possible careers to one or two realistic ones, and have sought out the educational paths that will best result in you being qualified for said careers. Good for you. Or is it?
In today’s society, wanting a certain career and being qualified for it is no longer enough for you to obtain it. More and more, it becomes common to see a college or university graduate with a degree and a job that has no correlation to that particular field. After years of schooling, students are suddenly relying on part-time jobs that they thought would be temporary in order to get by. For some, not even a part-time job exists. As many have realized, or will eventually come to realize that finding work is one of the most difficult and agonizing challenges of today.
“I see and have been going to a lot of training courses on the effect that youth unemployment is having on young people, and a term has been coined for this crisis, called malemployed,” said Deanna Villella, Manager of the Employment Division at the John Howard Society of Niagara’s Job Gym in Welland. “It categorizes people who are in their twenties, who are in jobs and are making less than twenty-eight thousand a year, that aren’t related to their career choice or what they took in school.”
Job Gym is an employment agency that runs a program called Employment Ontario, which is the same in every community across Ontario. Open to anyone and free of charge, the employment program offers employment counseling, access to job leads, job development services, wage incentives to employers and job certifications and training, such as Smart Serve, National Food Safety Training, Service Excellence, First Aid/CPR and WHMIS. Whether you are employed, underemployed or unemployed and regardless of your age, Job Gym assists individuals in finding a suitable job and entering the workforce with confidence that may have been lost.
Students are constantly subjected to the hopeless messages that circulate within society, such as that there are no jobs out in the real world. These messages are heard so often that they may deter any enthusiasm that students once held. Those who hope to be teachers one day are not strangers to this. Constantly, these students are reminded that they will probably be wait-listed for a few years after graduating, while others are told that it is simply about whom you know, not what you know. Some students are told that they are entering a dying field, or that the job they want will cease to exist in the future, which is why they should opt for another route. However, after investing years of time, work and money, opting for another route is not always an option that students can or are willing to take.
“I have a very special place in my heart for youth employment. It’s not easy for students to go to school now and get a job in their field of interest, even after all of their efforts. That transition from an education to an actual career is becoming increasingly difficult to make,” said Villella.
Although you are told your entire life to stay in school, at a college and university level, staying in school becomes costly rather quickly. Because there are so few jobs available, more students are staying in school for longer, all the while compiling more and more debt. The ability to pay this debt off becomes progressively difficult when students’ only source of income comes from a part-time job, serving coffee, stocking shelves or answering telephones. As much as students may not like their part-time job, for most, it is a necessary lifeline that cannot be done away with.
“It is admirable when students are working part-time while going to school and trying to do what’s best. On the other hand, there are those who move into a state of hopelessness and aren’t working at all, which is the worst scenario for them,” said Villella.
Along with hopeless messages in society, discouragement also stems from the public’s tendency to devalue work. The term “McJob” has been given to describe an unstimulating, low-paying, low-prestige job that requires few skills, minimal training and has a high staff turnover rate. Most of these jobs are ones that students carry part-time while going to school, and are the same ones that a growing majority of those students will have no choice but to keep upon graduating. Though maintaining a job of any kind is the responsible thing to do, when society devalues certain ones, it makes the individual holding the job feel as though they are inadequate.
“All work should be valued, plain and simple. In all work you have something to gain. Granted, you do not want to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and working as a barista, but there are things that you can get from that experience alone that can and will help you when you finally do find a consistent career,” said Villella. “So, it’s hard when you hear people devalue jobs, because as students, you are working and contributing, regardless if it is your first choice or not. Not to mention, it brings down others with those jobs who are content in them.”