Since February, the unemployment rate has steadily risen in Canada due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the most affected groups is new post-secondary graduates, as many are graduating without experience in their chosen field of study. With finances to maintain, and the looming threat of a recession following the pandemic, recent graduates are searching for every opportunity possible to survive.
According to Statistics Canada, the current unemployment rate has surpassed the peaks of the past recessions in the early 1980s, early 1990s, and late 2000s. If the rates maintain as they have for the majority of 2020, graduates could lose $25,000 or more over the next 5 years unless the situation changes quickly.
Yug Chokshi, a recent Business General graduate from St. Clair College, has been struggling to find a job in his chosen field since May 2020. “Every day I applied for 20 jobs and received a ‘No’ because all the banks and companies wanted an experienced individual,” Chokshi explained.
He is not alone in his search for full-time employment, and the growing concern of financial instability for both graduates and current students is causing more stress for students already coping with alternative forms of education delivery. According to a Statistics Canada crowdsource collection, students are concerned about not only using their savings but also taking on more student debt in order to cope.
The collection states: “50 per cent of post-secondary graduates had student debt at the time of graduation with a median debt of around $17,500. The pandemic has heightened students’ concerns about their debt load with 47 per cent being very or extremely concerned about having to take on more student debt as a result of COVID-19.”
Other concerns that new graduates are facing include paying for living expenses on top of trying to lower their debt. With the current lack of jobs for new graduates, the stress is continuing to heighten the longer COVID-19 continues.
“Almost all my classmates from the same program are struggling to find a job.” Chokshi stated. “I have applied to hundreds of positions but I have hardly received any positive responses, except for the fake companies who want to exploit new graduates.”
Many new graduates are turning to part-time employment to try and regain some financial stability. Chokshi is one of these many students, and is currently working at a Subway restaurant in Minden, Ont. “Job satisfaction is very important and I am currently struggling a lot with it.”
Currently, there has not been a significant decrease in the unemployment rate for youth ages 15 to 24 in Canada. However, the Canadian government is working to provide as much support as possible for the struggling age group.
The creation of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) to assist with financial support for those who cannot find full-time employment and provide job opportunities for sectors that support the delivery of essential services has been beneficial to many youth in Canada. These services can be found on the Canadian Government website.
However, until the pandemic has ended and financial stability is an attainable goal, many post-secondary graduates will continue to be in the same situation they are in currently. “As far as I know nobody has successfully found a good job in the field,” Chokshi explained, “which is heartbreaking.”