Doin’ the Millennial Side Hustle

Side Hustle

NO, IT'S NOT A NEW DANCE FOR 2017. It’s real life shit for far too many young people who did their part and got a degree, but find themselves unemployed, underemployed, or looking for something on the side, a side hustle, just to get by.

That’s why so many of them are attracted to driving Uber or freelance gigs. Not because they want to. They didn’t go to school for 4 or 8 years to drive drunks home after the party. They want jobs and careers and a family. But that’s not what’s happening.

Here’s what is. CBC recently did a story on some young people with degrees but no jobs. Here are two of them. Two, amongst many.

Clair Parker
Claire Parker has had to master the ‘millenial side hustle’ (Leonardo Palleja/CBC)

Clair Parker has a political science degree from Carleton University in Ottawa and a certificate in public relations from Humber College in Toronto. But she works at  Halo brewery in Toronto, bartending and doing whatever else is needed to keep the small business running. It’s what she calls “the millennial side hustle.”

Her bartending job doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet so she cobbles together enough money to live in Toronto by also working at a yoga studio and house sitting.

“We all have different side hustles that we do to get money. So many people who would have worked in-house for a company before are freelancing now.”

Christian McCrave
Christian McCrave has a mechanical engineering degree and no real work (Leonardo Palleja/CBC)

Christian McCrave has a mechanical engineering degree, a lot of student debt, and no job. He has applied for 250 engineering jobs, but he’s only had four interviews and no job offer.

His only work experience to date has been as a cashier at Winners. He has now applied to work at the local Sobeys grocery store near his parent’s house in London, Ont., where he has lived since soon after graduation.

“Being unemployed while having a degree is kind of a kick in the face. If anything, it’s a setback. You have all this debt and this degree, and everyone has one, but it doesn’t get you further in life sometimes.”

The potential scarring of a generation

These are just two stories among millions across the country. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that the unemployment rate for 15-to-24-year-olds is almost twice that of the general population. And a 2014 report from the Canadian Teachers’ Federation found nearly a quarter of Canada’s youth are either unemployed, working less than they want or have given up looking for work entirely.

The CTF report went on to conclude:

An entire generation of Canadian youth is being left behind. Perhaps the greatest urgency comes from the potential “scarring” of a generation. Recent research and surveys comment on the recognition of the dilemma faced by young Canadians. Results published by the Broadbent Institute (Time for a New Deal for Young People, March 2014), based on a survey of what 20-30 year olds are telling us about Millennials and optimism regarding career success, indicate:
“Fifty two percent of millennials think their generation will work on contract - either mixed with permanent jobs, or contracts alone”. And further: “and while more than half of boomers are certain they’ll own their home at retirement, only a third of millennials are as confident”.

That was in 2014. If anything, things have gotten worse rather than better since then. Canada’s teachers are worried. That’s why they also published a number of recommendations for the federal government to consider. Here is the key one from their report:

That the Canadian Government develop a national job creation strategy with an emphasis on addressing the unemployment and underemployment of youth. This strategy must be developed in partnership with employers and labour organizations and consider a broad range of social programs including the elimination of unpaid internships as part of the solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.

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