Re: The New Underclass


This week Macleans Magazine highlighted the new underclass, “the growing number of well-educated twentysomethings scrapping it out in the job market for a limited number of prized positions.”

The article tests the narrative that a university education is the ticket to a good job and a comfortable life. Today we Millennials are concerned about the cost of education and student debt, but the most concerning issue is the job market they face after school.

Students and new grads are frustrated about the job market. From October  23 to 25, 2012 Abacus Data  conducted a Nationwide survey of  1,004 Canadians aged 18-30 with the Huffington Post Canada to get a sense of what matters to Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation or the Echo Boom.We asked Millennials to identify among the categories included here, which they consider to be the most important issue facing our generation in Canada. The availability of quality jobs was the most frequently cited response among this group by a notable margin.


* Huffington Post Canada National Survey, released in part with the Asking Y series, October 2012.

Our research found that there was little difference between those Millennials who are currently working full time, part time, doing unpaid internships or who are looking for work. People who fit into each of these groups see this as a challenge for the generation.

For people in my generation this issue is compounded by a frustrating housing market. Millennials, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, are starting to wonder whether they’ll ever own a home, 8% of those surveyed said that they believed affordable housing was the most significant issue today.

In looking at, “why so many smart, educated, ambitious young people have no future” Gillis and Sorenson explained that while many people with undergraduate degrees struggle to find decent-paying jobs, Canada faces shortages in the skilled trades. In particular, those with a higher level of education are concerned.

Millennials we surveyed who had a post-graduate degree (Master’s, PhD or Professional Degree) were more likely to rank availability of jobs as their top concern than Millennials with a bachelor’s degree or college diploma. Over 50% of those we surveyed with a college diploma did not even consider availability of jobs to be among their top three concerns.

What does this mean for a generation of university grads? As Macleans points out, the irony of frustrated jobs seekers is that Canadian employers are having trouble finding qualified people. Millennials seek to find meaning in the work we do, we want to contribute and we want to know that there is room to move up in our position. While Millennial grads struggling in the work force today may be pessimistic about the job market, there are areas in Canada like Health care, advanced manufacturing, mining and business services that continue to seek qualified candidates.

Jaime is an Analyst at Abacus Data and a thought leader for its Canadian Millennials research practice.

Contact Jaime Morrison:

T: 613-232-2806



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