Canadian youth struggling with outlook on future

YOUTH PROTECTION

An RBC study found that across every province and major city in Canada, youth aged 14 to 29 are significantly less confident when it comes to their job prospects and how prepared they are for the future of work.

Vice President of Social Impact Mark Beckles said COVID-19 disruptions and job availability is driving the insecurity.

 “The absence of meaningful employment opportunities combined with COVID-19 has lead to some real challenges but overall just over 1,800 young people have told us that the interruptions to their education, the new realities brought on by social distancing and general feelings of anxiety and fear over COVID-19 are having this negative effect on their outlook as their navigate their career paths.”

The data suggests young women are feeling more pressure to succeed and perceive that they're not doing as well as men.

“Gen Z women make up 2.5% of the Canadian labour force but make up 17% of the total decline in employment during the pandemic so that tells you that men are doing better. This also skews regionally where, for example, young women in BC are more likely to say that they always or usually feel overwhelmed by the stresses of today versus their male counterparts,” said Beckles.

He added that feelings of worry increase when youth identify as a minority.

“For example, Indigenous as well as LGBTQ2S+ are more likely to report feeling pessimistic about their future in the job market and believe that problems like COVID-19 just lead to larger problems and set them further back.”

Almost half of respondents currently studying say they feel education during the pandemic is doing a worse job of preparing them for employment.

Currently, seven in ten young Canadians are learning remotely to some extent.

The survey also shows an increase in mental health challenges and calls to Kids Help Phone.

“What we've seen is a three-fold increase of calls up from 1.9 million in 2019 to well over 4.5 million in 2020. young people are concerned about physical health, they are concerned about future career potential, they're concerned about their personal financial situation, their jobs, school life, their happiness and these are issue that sort of role into how one is feeling from a well-being perspective.”

45% of respondents say the pandemic has negatively impacted their optimism for the future.

According to Beckles we are not at the point of crisis yet but these are leading indicators that Canada needs to think about supports for youth as we recover from COVID-19.