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Decent job? Dream on, young worker

Part-time hours, poor pay and not much training the wave of the future, union leaders warn.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For a lot of young workers, the future looks bleak -- unless their ideal is a job that offers part-time work at a low wage, with poor benefits and little in the way of training, union leaders warn.

The Canadian Press has the story:

TORONTO -- Canada could face a labour shortage within five years as baby boomers retire, even as a younger generation of workers confronts a "bleak'' future full of part-time jobs with poor pay and little or no pensions, union leaders warned Sunday on the eve of the Labour Day holiday.

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan said he's worried students graduating with a bachelor degree won't find good jobs so they can pay off student loans and build a future.

"The kids today cannot look forward to full-time, decent paying jobs where you can afford a mortgage, a car,'' said Ryan.

"We are fearful for young workers getting in right now. The future does look very bleak.''

Employers are seeking bargaining concessions in two key areas, said Ryan. They want to pay new hires lower wages and offer defined-contribution pension plans-- a controversial, lower-cost alternative to traditional defined-benefit plans, Ryan said.

Similar demands were at the heart of recent strikes at US Steel in Hamilton, Vale Inco in Sudbury and by CAW members and postal workers. The use of part-time workers is also a factor in the current strike at Ontario's 24 colleges, where 8,000 full-time support workers are off the job.

Robert Waghorn of the online career resources portal said he's seen an increase in part-time job postings.

Generation Y workers -- those aged 18 to 30-- are more open to part-time work than older workers because they want to get experience and try out different careers, Waghorn said.

A Harris-Decima Labour Day poll of 1,000 Gen Y and baby boomers for found 40 per cent of Gen Y workers surveyed weren't working in their preferred field, and 16 per cent had changed jobs five or more times.

But some employees are demanding to do part-time or contract work as they want a different form of working relationship, said Dan Kelly with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

"A lot of younger workers want to earn an income, but sell their services to a variety of companies especially in creative fields,'' Kelly said.

More people are becoming entrepreneurs, he added.

But that's a tough route. Just ask Ted Cordina, 55, who had to rethink his career after the company he worked for 10 years closed during the dot-com bust in the 1990s. With no job prospects, he turned a kayaking hobby into Toronto, which offers kayaking and snowshoeing to tourists.

It was tough going at the start. While he's been rewarded with success, he said becoming an entrepreneur is a risky business.

"When you start your own business, you're using your own money and you are not part of normal pension plans of traditional good industries,'' Cordina said. "You're putting all your hopes into your business to support you in the future.''

But more than one in three twenty-somethings polled said they felt companies don't provide sufficient mentoring or use younger workers to their potential.

After cutting payrolls for the past couple of years, Waghorn said employers should provide mentoring to retain employees, since it's costly to hire and train new workers.

September is the time when unhappy workers look for new jobs, and is the peak for traffic to the online job site, averaging 1.2 million visitors.

"If they don't take notice what the Gen Y-ers and the boomers are saying about job security, work-life balance, then these guys are going to be walking out the door themselves on their decision,'' said Waghorn.

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