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Youth for hire: employing 'Generation Jobless'

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Andrew Karam has had only two job interviews in the last eight months. This, despite the fact that he graduated with honours from the civil engineering program at the University of Ottawa, and has sent out over 100 resumes. For now, he's working in construction with his father.

 Andrew Karam searches job postings. Despite sending out over 100 resumes, he has only had two interviews in the last eight months. (CBC Doc Zone)Thousands of young Canadians are in Karam's position, struggling to find work in their fields, biding their time in other jobs, and referring to their university degrees as expensive pieces of paper.

Their circumstances and the research that puts it all in context form the basis of Generation Jobless, a documentary premiered Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on CBC Doc Zone.

Filmmakers Sharon Bartlett and Maria LeRose probe whether young people looking for work today are worse off than previous generations, touching on topics like unemployment, underemployment, unpaid internships, contract work and how much of it is becoming the new normal.

The unemployment rate for young Canadians is roughly 15 per cent - double that of the general population. Those who go to go on to college and university are graduating with an average debt of $27,000.

Many more are witnessing stable, long term and full-time careers giving way to contract work, part-time jobs and one-off projects.

Generation Jobless takes a look at the kind of society Canada may become if its young people can't gain access to the hallmarks of adulthood.

"Youth unemployment and underemployment is a ticking time bomb with serious consequences for everyone," the documentary's synopsis posits.

"If the next generation fails to gain a toehold into the economy, who'll buy boomer's houses? Who'll pay for social programs?"

In this week's episode of CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil chatted with the filmmakers and a panel of experts about this issue.

Our special guests included:

  • Sharon Bartlett and Maria LeRose: the filmmakers behind Generation Jobless and related documentaries (such as Generation Boomerang).
  • Armine Yalnizyan: Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
  • Lauren Friese: Founder of TalentEgg Inc, a website that specializes in career services for students and new graduates. (Note: Friese will be co-hosting a text-based chat during the documentary premiere. Follow along here.

Replay the live chat below.

Related new stories:

LISTEN| Armine Yalnizyan, economist, puts Generation Jobless in context on CBC Toronto's Metro Morning radio show:

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