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Toronto’s 30 Nothings

October 2008
Regarding Andrew Ross’ article “Toronto’s 30-nothing generation needs help (Toronto Sun, 26 October 2008); now I don’t know Mr. Ross’ specific situation; however, there are some things that are way off base in his article.

Mr. Ross states that “30-nothings have been enslaved in a useless pursuit of education with zero career prospects, compounded by meaningless McJob employment…”. I strongly disagree as an education is never a useless thing. Even graduating with general arts degree from university demonstrates to potential employers that you have the motivation and ability to work and succeed.

An education doesn’t have to be a two to four year course of study either. Even a factory worker who takes night school courses or employer offered skills upgrading will be in a much better position to land a new job if faced with lay-off. It’s hard to train for or find a new job when you are laid-off after 20 years on the factory line with no transferable skills.

How about joining the military; even for just three to five years, is a great option. If you want to be a mechanic or a doctor, the army will train you while paying you a salary at the same time. Even an infanteer (soldier, grunt, G.I.), a job that doesn’t train you specifically for any civilian occupation, still learns valuable leadership and organizational skills which could land you a good paying job.

Don’t knock the McJobs either. I know someone who started as a minimum wage worker for a big-box operation and is now a regional manager making a six-figure salary.

Those coming out of our post-secondary institutions need to remember that they are not automatically entitled to high paid jobs the day after graduation. It took me a full year out of university before I landed my first full-time job, making a $8.56 an hour. It wasn’t my dream job, but as the years went on, I landed better paying jobs and now, at the age of 39, I’m making the most I have ever made in my life.

Although job placement assistance is great, the task ultimately falls to the individual. In the early 90s, I was working at a job that paid well, but was ultimately a dead-end job. With no job-placement help, I searched for a new job, but could only find jobs for less money and no benefits. During this time period I was serving in the Navy Reserve, so I ultimately decided to seek out a full-time position as a Reservist. In the mid 90s, with the Regular Force downsizing, there were plenty of full-time Reserve positions opening up, so I applied and got a contract position. I made less than I was making at my old job, but it had medical and dental benefits and was something that I liked doing anyway.

My point is I didn’t wait for someone to hand me a job; I went out and found it, with a little help from some of my military contacts.

This of course leads me to another point, which is get out there and make contacts of your own. If you really want to break into a profession, take whatever position you can. Once in, start making contacts and then use them to your advantage. In my current job, I owe a big debt to the fact that I took a part-time, volunteer position in the industry; one that gave me some great experience and got me known to those who could make a difference. Now I had another paying job at the time, but I was willing to put in the extra time volunteering if it would help my career, and I was eventually hired full-time.

Student Debt

Student debt is a big problem. I’m very fortunate that my parents, both university graduates, saved for my education. Along with the money I earned from summer jobs, I had more than enough money for university.

I recently signed my infant daughter up for an RESP, which may not be enough in 18 years to pay for her education, but it will be a start. I realize that not everyone is so fortunate, though.

Student-debt forgiveness is an idea that shouldn’t be ignored, but it should come with very strict conditions. Someone who spends six years in college or university, changing their course of study every year or two because they can’t figure out what they wanted to do, should not have the whole debt wiped out. There should be some obligation on the student not to treat it as a free ride.

While there are many people like Mr. Ross looking for work (I was once there too, as are many cab drivers with medical or engineering degrees), sometimes you need to swallow your pride and take a stepping stone or as a temporary fill-in job until something better comes along. I worked hard to get where I am now and didn’t listen to the people, including HR people, who said I should give up and look for another profession.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/torontos-30-nothings/

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