One million young Canadians not at school or work: StatsCan

May 24, 2012 - News

Nearly a million young Canadians are out of work and more than half aren’t even looking for a job, according to the first-ever study of its kind by Statistics Canada.
They represent roughly 13 per cent of all young people between the ages of 15 and 29, the federal agency said.
And while that’s high compared to Canada’s overall jobless rate, which stood at 7.2 per cent in April, among Canada’s G7 peers only Germany is in better shape with a youth unemployment rate of 11.6 per cent, the study noted.
Unlike previous studies of unemployed youth, the report is the first to include young people who aren’t in school but are also not looking for work.
The phenomenon, dubbed “NEET,” which stands for Not in Employment Education or Training, is an area of growing concern to policy makers around the globe.
In some countries, high levels of youth unemployment have led to riots and demands for social and political change. In Greece and Spain, more than half of those under age 25 are out of work due to the growing debt-crisis in the euro zone.
However, in Canada, a significant chunk of young people who opted not to work cited other factors, such as a desire to stay home with young children, Statistics Canada found.
“Almost half a million young people are not in the labour force. The NEET indicator suggests something negative is going on. But we don’t know that for sure,” said the study’s author, Katherine Marshall.
“The youth in the NEET state are actually a very diverse group, particularly so in Canada. So it has to be taken with a footnote that not everybody in the NEET state is at risk of being discourage or disengaged,” Marshall said. “A large minority is parents with young children, or they’re at home doing unpaid work, or volunteer work, or leisure. These aren’t necessarily negative activities.”
But an association whose members work directly with unemployed youth said the data could be masking some underlying issues.
“Looking for work is very, very hard and very, very stressful. A lot of people when they don’t find work quickly get demoralized,” said Matt Wood, executive director of First Work, an association of Ontario Youth Employment Centres.
The numbers don’t include the millions of young people who may be staying in school longer because so few good jobs are available, he said. Nor do they show how many are working at part-time, temporary or contract jobs, he added.
The pace of technological change means most jobs require at least some training, which few employers are willing to provide, Wood noted.
Meanwhile, some jobs are going unfilled because of a mismatch between employers’ needs and young people’s skills, Wood said.
Canada needs a more coherent youth employment strategy, he said.
Among the 904,000 young Canadians considered “NEET” last year some 391,000 were actively looking for work while the other 513,000 were not, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.
Among those looking for work, only 55,000, or 1 per cent, had been doing so for more than six months. That’s one of the lowest rates among Canada’s economic peers, the G7 group of countries.
Gender, education and marriage all had an impact on young people’s employment track record.
Young men were having more trouble than women finding jobs. The less educated and unmarried were also more likely to be out of work.
Eight out of 10 who said they weren’t looking for a job cited family responsibilities, health issues or other activities as their reasons.
Of the 2 in 10 who wanted a job but had stopped looking, most said they’d become discouraged, or were waiting to be recalled or were unable to work.
— Torstar News Service