Print Edition: June 24, 2011
My first job was at McDonald’s. I was thirteen and eager to make six dollars an hour for my first 500 hours. The work was relatively easy. I was able to make new friends and goof around while working. I look back on that job and miss how I could spend my money frivolously and not have to worry about any rent, water, or gas bills. Today, not only do I worry about those very bills, but also I worry about finding a job so I can pay said bills.
Finding a job while I was a teenager was an easy task. If you were an able-bodied person who was ready to work, people didn’t have a problem hiring you. Today, youth face a new and annoying problem: there is no work. Over the course of two weeks, I personally handed out 40 résumés, and received two call backs for interviews. According to Statistics Canada, youth unemployment is at the highest it’s been in 11 years. Between the ages of 15 and 24, the unemployment rate is at a scary 15.9 per cent, and as of June, 33,000 jobs will have been lost. At this point, in our economy, it does not matter how educated you are, or how little education you have, the work is not available.
Most students who are not in summer semester use their free time in the warm season to work and save for the fall and winter months. While handing out résumés, I was put in a position to tweak my résumé by reducing my qualifications. If I put that I was educated at a university, no one would hire me because they knew it wouldn’t be long term. As much as I am willing to serve coffee and wipe tables, no one is interested in hiring a returning student. Businesses that normally rely on grants from the government to staff their company for the summer have to go without this summer. This naturally means students have to go without work as a result.
This essentially creates a downward spiral, especially for students. If we are not making enough money to meet our immediate bills (not to mention the nag of credit card debt), we are forced to take on more student loan debt. If we are just borrowing more money from the government, can the budget not be shuffled around a little so we can have the opportunity to make our own hard earned cash rather than relying on debt? If a student were to receive the full amount of student loans for two semesters, one would receive approximately $11,000. That’s classified as a living below the poverty line!
The government is supposed to be on the side of youth. Without the youth, our future has nothing to look forward to. We cannot afford to put ourselves through school because we cannot find work in the summer, and without educated people, our long-term goals are shattered. Students and youth are willing to go out and work, but instead, our government is forcing us into a position of debt and poverty.