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Too many of our university graduates are mired in debt and underemployed. Are they becoming a lost generation?

There was a time that a university degree was a ticket to a good career, good pay and a comfortable life style. Not any more. To-day the unemployment rate for young people in Canada is approaching 15% which is double that of the general population. Too many of our university grads are unemployed working at low-paid part time jobs that do not require a post secondary education. In fact the stats show that one in three 25-29 year olds with a university degree ends up in a low-skilled job.

Sixty per cent of Canadian students graduate with an average debt load of $27,000. Automation/technology has erased tens of thousands of jobs of what where once considered good/secure paying positions that have disappeared.

Many of our graduates are told that you need on-the-job experience to be able to be employed. How do you get the needed experience if no one will hire you?


Co-op/internship programs for university/college students helps them get the needed exposure to the job markets. Waterloo Engineering students have Co-op placements and Western Engineering students have Internship programs for 16 months of paid employment.

Fanshawe College is well known for their Co-op programs with the graduates being employed in directly related careers six months after leaving school.

It is a great opportunity for students to apply their studies to the career that they wish to follow. Employers can better assess the qualities of future candidates. The students learn to adapt their College/ University theory to on the job experiences. The students earn while they learn to allow them to graduate with little or no debt.

Many of my clients who show a high correlation to Military Officers have opted to attend Royal Military College in Kingston. An excellent education, room and board books and uniforms all free paid for at the taxpayer’s expense. Students graduate with a prestigious degree with no debt and a guaranteed career in the military.

Secondary students need to spend the needed time to explore their strengths and weaknesses and how they match up with the programs and opportunities offered by the school they wish to attend. It is a little too late to change your choice of programs after two-three years of schooling. You can go on-line to check out the schools but on-site visits to ask important questions sure helps.

Staying home for an undergraduate degree sure helps to save the cost of housing and room and board. Lots of time to move out of home when you want to take a graduate program.

Scholarships and bursaries go along way to help pay for your university/college program, The Ontario Provincial Government is paying 30% of tuition fees leaving approximately $4000.00 left to be paid by the students.

Students should try set aside money for the first semester and if the marks are ok then the parents can help.

One of my teenaged young women was very creative. She made up a brochure which she hand-delivered to householders offering to take care of their snow and grass cutting needs. Mom and dad offered the family snow shovel, lawnmower and garden implements and she was very busy taking care of 25 properties. At $20.00 a per visit over a four year period she paid her half of her tuition fees.

There is always the opportunity for those who need funds to apply to the Ontario Student Aid Program for assistance to attend post secondary education. Remember, that the loan payments are repayable six months after leaving school at the interest rate set at that time.

Apprenticeship programs offer up skilled trades training for those who enjoy hands-on-training. We have an ageing group of tradespeople who are soon to be retired. The job opportunities are in high demand and the remuneration is excellent Plumbers, Electricians, Hairdressers, Chefs, Heating/Air Conditioning Technician are just a few of the job designations that lead to employment along with a sense of job satisfaction.

Parents can help guide their children to help them not join the jobless indebted generation of students. Hard working people with a sense of direction can find their way and be successful.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com