Monday, January 28, 2013
Generation Jobless: Must-See TV
Generation Jobless is the sensational new documentary about how so many Canadians under 30 can't find permanent jobs despite being the best educated bunch in history.
Brilliantly written and conceived it seems like it was torn from today's headlines.
But Sharon Bartlett (co-director with Maria LeRose) says it took a full year from the initial research to filming and editing for it to appear.
"In that time the problem just became larger."
Every year Canadian universities graduate some 254,000 talented students. But good jobs are drying up at an alarming rate and by 2030 only half as many good jobs will be available compared with today.
There was a chance Generation Jobless might have deteriorated into another talking heads project leaving the poor viewer overwhelmed by the dire statistics.
But Bartlett and LeRose wisely personalize the problem.
We see individual cases --an urban geography grad who must wait on tables because there's nothing available for newcomers in her specialty.
We see a young boy proudly framing in degree in civil engineering and then going off to a job in construction with his father.
"The jobs pool is drying up at a shocking rate," Bartlett says. "And it's right across the boards. Boomers are delaying retiring --often because they accumulated debt getting these kids through college. Many kids graduate with no job strategy skills --they just assumed there would always be jobs out there."
Today's college grads are more in debt but better educated than any other generation in recent history. But the jobs for which they've been trained just aren't there.
One girl tells us "I'm a serial intern". Like many others she has taken an unpaid internship to get her foot in the door. At one company Remote Stylists we see that few of the consultants are paid and only a handful ever get offered full time jobs despite accumulated experience.
"As we progressed we discovered parents need to be aware it's a different world out there than when they graduated," says Bartlett.
Automation and outsourcing to foreign countries mean Canada is losing good paying jobs faster than new jobs are being created.
"It's not going to get better,"Bartlett cautions. "We talk about driverless cars which means few jobs left for taxi drivers and delivery van drivers. We talk about 3D printing which Google is preparing."
And I added in my talk with her the disappearance of reporting jobs at the daily press, the loss of projectionists in cinemas, the closing of corner DVD outlets and neighborhood book stores.
The documentary is devastating in analyzing why Ontario still graduates hordes of teachers who will never get work. High school career counsellors just aren't with it.
We listen to individual cases: of the Ontario teacher still supply teaching after nine years in the system. This is contrasted with the retired teacher who still supply teaches because he's good at it. He doesn't feel he's manipulating the system at all.
That's the downside.
"We had to choose between Germany and Switzerland for a solution.We show Swiss kids can chose an apprentice program as early as 15 and after they do that for three years they can switch to the university stream because they're still young. And unemployment is very low compared to the 67 per cent of young Canadians unemployed after university and in debt that averages $27,000 a person.
This is the third in a trilogy of thought provoking similarly themed docus: Hyper Parents And Coddled Kids (2010) and Generation Boomerang" made by Bartlett and LeRose for Dreamfilm Productions.
Biggest problem was boiling it all down to a compactly edited 42 minutes making Generation Jobless a model of its kind in combining brevity with stark visuals.
And just Google CBC Doc Zone Generation Jobless for even more information.
GENERATION JOBLESS PREMIERES ON CBC-TV'S DOC ZONE THURSDAY JAN. 31 AT 9 P.M.
MY RATING: ****.