By Brendan Strandberg-Salmon, National Observer, October 26, 2020
To change the course of student careers and society for the better, the Canadian government must launch a green jobs initiative for youth and give youth hope for themselves and their communities.
COVID-19 brought the lives of Canadian youth like me to a grinding halt. Schools closed, graduations were cancelled, social events were curtailed and careers were derailed. Unemployment rates for those aged 15 to 24 soared to a historical high of 29.4 per cent in May, up from 10.3 per cent in February. Those who kept their jobs primarily carried out high-contact and low-paid essential work.
In September, Statistics Canada reported one in four Canadians under 30 were “NEET” ― not in education, employment or training. Jobs are returning more slowly for youth, and studies of the 2008 recession show that youth who are unemployed for long periods struggle to maintain employment later in life.
In short, young people living through this pandemic are at risk of becoming a lost generation.
Canada must lead in helping youth recover from unemployment by establishing a youth green jobs initiative within its COVID-19 recovery strategy.