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I just finished an interesting book, "Intern Nation , How to earn nothing and learn little in the brave new economy".
I love the irony of the title.

In the last few years internships have spread to every facet of the economy. It is a form of mass exploitation that is hidden in plain sight. In a time of chronic high unemployment of our youth, internships are replacing full time paid employment.Those who can not work without pay are shut out.

Internships are the domain of the families of well connected wealthy parents whose children are supported by their families. Once you start spinning your work to pad your resume it is difficult to stop. Never mind that your tasks, making/fetching coffee or answering the phone have little to do with your past education or your future career goals.

Employers really do not care about the development/education of their interns. The bottom line emphasizes productivity not personal development. We all remember the most famous of interns was Monica Lewinsky who served President Clintonís needs. Her father actually donated a large amount of money to the Democratic Party to help her attain her position at the White House.

Young people are enticed to be part of the fantasy, glamorous celebrity internships in journalism music broadcasting, theater, modeling, travel and tourism are but some of the dead-end pursuits.

The Walt Disney corporation in Orlando Florida has had 50,000 interns over the thirty years of its existence. In reality it is a cheap labor source that pays very little to the young people who work very long hours tending to the wants of the visitors. Candidates are told very little of the low pay while paying rent of $1000 per month to the Corporation to share their apartment with six other interns. When you check out "Fantasy Land" reality you are signing on to be an indentured servant working very long hours being paid very little while performing boring repetitious tasks.

Internships most often can be likened to an expensive university three year General Arts degree that you pay for in the hopes that the light at the end of a tunnel is a way to escape from the basement of the Canadian work force.

Youth unemployment of 16-24 years of age is at an all time high of 20% resulting in the loss which has had a devastating effect on the Canadian economy. Past milestones of adulthood such as: finishing school, being employed and financially responsible , leaving home to establish a residence of their own, getting married, having children is not part of many young peopleís persona.

The stats show that the average age of a young man leaving home, taking his bed out of his parentís home, is 27 years of age. I have recently counseled like minded men who are still living with their mom or dad who are in their thirties/ forties; they had no intention of leaving their comfortable feathered nest.

There are solutions to help young people be self sufficient and successful. Co-op Apprenticeship programs pays the students to earn while they learn that leads to good paying interesting careers that are/will be in demand in Canada. The University of Waterloo for many years has led the world in providing their students with meaningful paid Co-op work in Engineering. The programs run all year long with student taking four years eight months to graduate. Students are paid for on the job work experience for 18 months with up to three different employers .

It is an amazing marriage between the university, employers and students. Some of my student clients have attainted work experience with the Bruce Nuclear facility in Port Elgin, Blackberry in Waterloo, Celestica in Toronto.

For those students who do not want to go on to university check out the co-op career opportunities at Fanshawe College. The school publishes each year their "Graduate Report" which shows the number of graduating student numbers to find employment and work related to their education six months after graduating from the college.
Apprenticeship programs offer up meaningful learning experiences for young people that are paid where students can do real work that employers and the Canadian economy are searching for.

Check out the September the 16th edition of MacLeanís magazine Special Report of "THE FUTURE OF JOBS" " More then a million Canadians are searching for full-time work, but employers complain they canít find the people they need to survive and expand. MacLeanís reveals the hottest jobs, where to find them and what the country needs to solve the skill crisis."

The thirteen pages with headings: "Filling the Gaps", "Itís not such a dirty Job", "Training Places", "Living off the Land," "The trades: where help is actually wanted", "Structural Problems", are a must read for students and their parents.

Now that you have the knowledge you can make wise decisions to help your son/daughter to be productive employed adults who can live well and at the same time be productive citizens.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com