Op-ed: The Potential of Canada’s Economic Action Plan for Youth

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Canada’s Economic Action Plan of 2013 and 2014 demonstrates a strong attempt to put research, entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of job creation for Youth. As a graduating student of International Relations programs I examine CEAP 2013 and 2014 to understand the potential of Youth Employment Strategies to understand the future of my prospects. The main point is to assess the current employment conditions for youth and what Canada is doing to uplift Canadian youth and support their natural talents. In my assessment with great optimism I look at the way youth initiatives as architected by the government is the perfect opportunity for youth to consider bigger plans for themselves and their communities.

Currently, if there is anything certain it is the current economic uncertainties especially for youth. Many university grads today are taking a different pathway – one that leads to the doorstep of a college or polytechnic institute. I know many students who have enrolled into Humber or Sheridan because they provide co-op with their year-long program. Furthermore my own roommate, a graduating student from ——– who just finished her co-op at —–  has been busy looking for a job online but have found no luck. Her whole graduating class is facing the same odds. They have been told to apply internationally and few of her classmates are likely to be employed abroad. For me, as a student of International Relations program, my peers are also looking abroad for jobs while the prospects of finding anything suitable here in Canada appears bleak. One thing that I have common with my roommate is our parents wondering when are we going to get a job. I believe this frustration is our right to complain. When we have done everything right, we are pushed to wonder whether universities are selling false promises. For my roommate, (university name) had given the employment rate upon graduating to be at least 90% but the present tells a different story. Waterloo university runs on a similar motto, promising that with their co-co-op program the likeliness of being employed increases after graduation. Still, unemployment for youth lurks. The question is what is the problem?

According to Economic Insights Canada’s youth employment rate was 14.3%, compared with a rate of 6.0% for workers aged 25 to 54 and workers aged 55 or older.  Last year the Canadian youth unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 has been raised steadily, hitting 14.5 per cent in April. This year Youth Unemployment Rate in Canada decreased to 13.60 percent in February of 2014 from 13.90 percent in January of 2014. Does that mean the EAP is working then?

CEAP architect shows signs of optimism. There is a dedication to $40 million towards supporting up to 3000 internships in high-demand fields for 2014-5 and 2015-16. This recognizes the reality that despite Canada boasting high levels of post-secondary achievement, the transition to a first job can be challenging.  Currently the government invests over $330 million annually through Youth Employment Strategy for youth at risk, summer students and recent post-secondary graduates.  But EAP 2014 proposes for the Youth Employment Strategy to be reviewed to better align itself with the evolving realities of the job market.  Moreover there are plans to reallocate $15 million annually within the Youth Employment Strategy to support up to 1000 full-time internships for recent post-secondary graduates in small and medium sized enterprise. What this means is that for recent graduates that you must keeping shopping. To take advantage of these initiatives it does not mean a job will be handed to you but with diligent research there are good chances you will find work close to your field. Canada is working on it and coming around to the reality of the fact that though OSAP may provide quality education we may be losing talent to other countries.

Precisely for this reason, EAP designates over 18 million over two years to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. This is a national not-for-profit organization that works with young entrepreneurs to help them become the business leaders of tomorrow through mentorship, expert advice, learning resources and start-up financing. Since 2002, the Foundation has worked with 5,600 new entrepreneurs, helping to create 22,100 new jobs across Canadian communities. So for all those graduates who find themselves unemployed, stuck with a fast-food job or have found no luck in finding work abroad because of lack of experience have an alternative to pursue their own genius. This could possibly be the next big thing and be the provider of employment. Canada may not have a Silicon Valley but the government will continue to look for ways to foster these types of opportunities for Canadian innovative, high-growth firms and to promote Canada as a leading jurisdiction for innovation and investment opportunity. You do not have to be graduating from business, or economics to take advantage of such policies. If you are a graduate, the minimum any degree has taught you is how to think. Initiatives like this calls on students to brainstorm and be creative. It is demanding youth to look around their community to wonder what need could be tapped into-that is the essence of entrepreneurship. As youth of today and skill workers of tomorrow, the lurking question that begs an answer is what kind of society do you want to live in?

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