Somber music plays, quietly, subtly, setting a mood that seems to generate sympathy.
Then, he starts speaking:
“I’ve been looking for a job since I graduated over a year ago, but I still haven’t been able to find one,” he says, and then pauses for a moment, forcing the listener to reflect.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the sad university graduate in this constantly-played Unifor radio commercial has either a political science or international relations degree, or some other similar degree of equal uselessness in terms of its career transferability.
He continues: “I’m eager to work hard, and I want to build a future for myself, but I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll ever be employed. If Canada’s doing so well, then why are so many young people out of work?”
I believe many “young” people I know are out of work because after they spend four or five years in school—or maybe even seven or eight and come out with a master’s degree—they seem to believe a stable 9-to-5 government job with a beautiful pension, no less, will be laid out before them the moment they throw their graduation cap in the air with pride.
So they start looking for the career they’ve been priming themselves for for five years: They apply to Environment Canada, to the City, and to non-profits like Oxfam—all to no avail. They quickly realize they're a dime a dozen, and a year later they find themselves still searching. And still not working.
If the guy in the commercial represents many of the graduates I know, he probably hasn’t been looking for bartending or serving positions. He thinks he's overqualified to pour drinks (although he's quickly starting to question what he is qualified to do, and starting to lose confidence in the process).
Today's graduates seem to feel entitled to an immediate career post-graduation—a career they deem to be prestigious enough for them. After all, they just spent years in a classroom, accumulating debt in the process, learning how to both think critically and how to write research papers with impressive sounding titles like, “The impact of climate change on food security in sub-saharan Africa.”
Two points about this.
One: I graduated in 2009 with my master's in journalism and aspired to work in mainstream media—at CTV or The Vancouver Sun. Upon graduation, I realized quite quickly that my options in the field were proving to be far less prestigious: An unpaid internship, or maybe a $10-an-hour job at a local newspaper.
It never occurred to me to blame the government for the fact that traditional newspapers at the time were changing, shrinking, dying, or for the fact that CBC was then in the process of cutting hundreds of jobs.
Instead, I changed my direction. I started coaching CrossFit. I never thought I'd enjoy coaching, but here I am six years later still coaching, and loving it. And my writing career has steadily grown in the last six years to the point that I could stop coaching if I wanted to.
The point is there are jobs out there, and there are careers to be built. I just think individuals, and the free market, should dictate where these careers are needed and built—not the government.
The second point is about blame.
The graduate goes on:
“I wish the government was concerned about my future, but the Harper conservatives aren’t doing anything to help us."
I’m not exactly sure what this poor college graduate wants the government to do: Make space in an office and create a bullshit job in the planning department?
“Canadians need leadership that serves everyone, including young people,” the graduate says.
I would rather our leaders cut the number of students they let into university arts programs—and probably other overflowing programs too—than spend time pitying poor graduates who feel entitled to a career right out of university.
I would rather our leaders encourage young people to enter programs that better lead to careers than a history or economics degree does. It would help the government. It would help the taxpayer. And it would help the graduate in the commercial, who is so desperate for a career.