Sunday, September 1, 2013

Generation Jobless

There was a time when a University degree assured you a of good job, good pay and a comfortable life.  Not any more.  Today, the unemployment rate for young people in this country is close to 15% – double that of the general population.  But the real crisis is the increasing number of university and college grads who are underemployed – scraping by on low-paid, part-time jobs that don’t require a degree.  Although there are no official statistics in Canada, it’s estimated that after graduating, one in three 25 to 29 year olds with a college or university degree ends up in a low-skilled job.  And to make things worse, 60% graduate with an average debt of $27,000.  Mired in debt, and working in dead end jobs, their launch into adulthood is being curtailed.  Some call them “the lost generation”.  But, it’s not only young people who may be lost.  If the next generation fails to gain a toehold into the economy, who’ll buy boomer’s houses?  Who’ll pay for social programs? Youth unemployment and underemployment is a ticking time bomb with serious consequences for everyone.

There was a time, when working at Eatons was considered a career. Working at a GM plant in Detroit was considered a career. Middle class was achievable through such means, and such workers made up the bulk of the middle class.

What truly pulled the United States out of the Great Depression, for better or worse, was manufacturing for the war effort. Early post war Canada/US economies were not "service economies".

When you create a service economy, you are almost, by default, making higher education mandatory.

This in itself has some immediately noticeable effects: Depreciating the value of higher education, lowering the standards of higher education, turning institutions of "higher learning" into "assembly lines" (making them in turn into corporations).

Large swaths of "highly educated" (arguable) people, with unrealistic expectations, a mountain of debt, a sense of entitlement, competing over fewer and fewer jobs. It is a recipe for, I won't go as far to say "disaster", but definitely, a recipe for large amounts of "disgruntlement", and potential "disenchantment".

The "American dream", "hoodwinked" people into believeing that there is no such thing as "class". This has two immediately noticeable effects:, first and foremost, the individual by default takes the blame (or reward) for everything. Since it is all "in your hands", you have no one to blame but yourself. Not that the "blame game" serves any purpose, but a recognition of what makes up a problem, is absolutely necesary if one chooses to do something about.