Graduating students throwing caps in the air
Private School Guide Fall 2021Special Advertising Feature
Part 03

A look into the post-COVID job market

We’ve moved from an employer’s market to a worker’s market—where students and new grads are taking full advantage of their autonomy

Private School Guide Fall 2021Special Advertising Feature

Finally, some good news for students and new graduates after a long, hard few years: “Despite a mass disruption in the labour market,” explains University of Toronto economics professor Elizabeth Dhuey, “for many this equates to more opportunity.” How so? “When people feel their bosses and organization didn’t support them, they pull away. If you don’t feel like your company has your back, you’re more likely to leave.”

March 2020 and beyond unfolded a lot like exposure therapy. Just as people feared, the market (nay, the whole world) destabilized, nearly one in 10 Canadians lost their job, and unemployment rates spiked when they couldn’t find another. Of those still working, a survey from Lighthouse Labs found 57 per cent of Canadian workers are seriously considering quitting anyhow to pursue a new career entirely.

Sounds bleak, admittedly, but in the longer term, workers are empowered to ditch bad jobs and demand better ones. With nothing to lose and willingness to walk away, we’ve moved nicely into a worker’s market, where job havers and seekers will enjoy the upper hand.

“In 2021, no one’s taking a job for the sake of taking a job,” explains Richard Lachman, director of Ryerson’s RTA School of Media. “Even retail and fast food—both front-line facing jobs known for attracting students—are having problems finding people. The risk of working there is not worth the wage they pay, so we’re seeing those jobs dry up.” (Or maybe there’s a rise in minimum wage in the future? More great news for young people!)

Where are they going after tossing an apron? Universum, the largest career reference survey in Canada, asked thousands of students what industries pique their passion. “Any institution related to e-commerce, cannabis and gaming became very attractive,” says Universum’s Managing Director Jason Kipps. “Anything front-line became less attractive.”

No matter what path they choose, students still need and appreciate guidance to help them get there. At St. Michael’s College, for example: “Even before COVID, we were working on expanding students’ horizons with guest speakers and experiential learning opportunities,” says  principal James McKinnon. “Indeed the non-traditional career is clearly becoming the rule rather than the exception—particularly in creative fields but even in traditional areas like finance, commerce and health care.”

At The York School, director of university counselling David Hanna has the unique challenge of trying prepping grads for a world that doesn’t exist yet. “What is a future job? Manager to AI robots working on a solar panel field in orbit?” Even so, Hanna’s grads will be ready no matter what the markets of the future hold. “The key is becoming aware of your talents, finding things you’re good at and what you like, and then wanting to continuously improve.”

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