Unemployed and Underemployed Youth: A Challenge to Canada Achieving its Full Economic Potential

This document on youth unemployment (and underemployment) coincides with a policy paper series sponsored by Canada2020. Career development practitioners will find it useful as it brings together existing evidence to better understand some of the  challenges facing young Canadians in today’s labour market.

Much of the analysis provided in this report is based on recent data trends and existing research undertaken by domestic and international inter-governmental bodies, businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations. The report includes three sections:

  1. Recent developments in the Canadian economy and its implications for youth employment;
  2. Areas of improvement in higher education and emerging trends in youth underemployment; and
  3. Youth entrepreneurship in Canada.

The report makes the argument that based on recent trends in youth unemployment or underemployment, investing in young people is one of the best methods for leveraging human capital. It also looks at the potential that entrepreneurship holds for young people in today’s workforce and the type of supports that are required to attract youth to self-employment.

Some of the report’s key points include:

  1. The unemployment rate of 15 to 19 years old is persistently elevated at a time when the population of this age group is declining;
  2. Canada is not leveraging its highly educated population optimally as overqualified young workers end up in lower skilled jobs, which may result in weaker returns on Canada’s human capital investment over the long run; and
  3. Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship among young Canadians can be a powerful engine for local job creation.

This article provides a snapshot of what the future holds for today’s youth, and how they can represent a great leverage point for investing in human capital, as the earlier the investment, the longer the benefits accompanied by lower economic, fiscal, and social costs over the long run.