Guest Blogger: Zach Dayler, National Director, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
The last time I was unemployed was three years ago. I had just finished a Masters degree in urban planning and had almost no leads on a job in my field. I moved back in with my parents at age 25 and had no idea what my next steps were.
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I was not alone; graduating in the wake of a global recession was a terrible time for many Millennials finishing with very few opportunities to capitalize on. I was lucky.
Millennials are, by all accounts, the most well educated cohort in Canada’s demographic landscape.
We also face significant challenges, especially during periods of transition, which have made it difficult for many to find relevant and stable employment.
Couple this with the perceived fragility of Canada’s economic recovery and mounting levels of student debt and it may look like the reasons for us to be optimistic are dwindling.
Despite these challenges, it is crucial to note that there is no group in society better prepared to deal with the rapidly accelerating pace of change that will be brought forth by technological advancements.
The frequently applied moniker ‘digital natives’ is as significant and accurate a label as any that exists for this generation.
Recently, Monika Kosinska, Secretary-General of the European Health Authority said: “[Youth] are ideally placed to capitalise on the explosion of new technologies and greater global interconnectivity, and are already using these technologies to reshape our societies and democracies.”
Harnessing our strength will be crucial as the country stares down an anticipated demographic crunch described as “unprecedented in history, both in scope and size,” by the Bank of Canada. Every working age Canadian will have to be demonstrably more productive in the years to come in order to meet the needs of our society.
Education Matters! And Millennials are Educated.
While the recession exacerbated the challenges ahead of us, it also exposed the resilience of those who had attained high levels of education. We are well placed not just because many of us have advanced credentials, but also because of the methods by which we have learned. Computing and its applications are ubiquitous in our education system. For the majority of individuals who access our post-secondary system the outcomes are tremendously positive.
Canada is the most Educated Nation in the World
Canada recently retained its ranking as the most educated nation in the world. This comparative educational advantage has benefited us for years and will continue to do so, but other nations are hot on our heels. To maintain our advantages we will need to creatively approach the challenge of funding post-secondary and ensuring a fluid transition from secondary to tertiary education and then into the workforce.
For us, disruption does not equate to destruction.
In our relatively short lives we have experienced the world going online firsthand.
This paradigm shift is emblematic of the nature of changes that we can expect in the future. Being at the forefront of progress will mean not simply adapting to it, but shaping it directly through business, government, and social movements. These changes create an opportunity for young Canadians to take a leadership role and work with decision makers throughout society.
Unfortunately Millennials still face the challenge of having their voices heard by those in power. Our rates of democratic engagement are low and participation is the key to recognition in electoral politics. Millennials could play a more significant role in shaping public policy if they voted in higher numbers.