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Guest Editorial with Joyce Walter

Jobs available; where are workers?
JoyceWalterGuestEditorial

The signs are evident on the doors of many businesses. “We’re Hiring” is the message relayed to anyone with any interest at all in finding employment.

Similar advertisements appear in print media, on Facebook pages and on the numerous other social media platforms currently enjoyed by a wide age range, but in particular an age group that traditionally would be in a race to apply for whatever jobs were being offered.

In years past, the summer job programs were over-subscribed by applicants yearning for seasonal employment to provide some extra cash towards financing higher education, a new school wardrobe, a first car, even as a way to assist the family with monetary struggles. Employers were faced with tough decisions about which applicant to hire. The cream of the crop was there at their fingertips.

That scenario appears to have changed dramatically, mostly being blamed on two years of COVID restrictions, but often on a lack-lustre drive to participate in even a seasonal workforce.

A local organization recently received two grants to hire two summer students. While many applications were received from outside the country, the local job-seekers amounted to a trio. As it turned out, two of the applicants, when called for an interview, decided they didn’t want to work. The third was eager, got the job and is currently earning from one of the grants. The second grant may have to be returned if eventually not used for a second student.

What’s happening? The first assumption is that students today are lazy, have no ambition, and are unwilling to work to support their demands for more and better belongings or adventures. 

That, of course, would be unfair to the young men and women who work after school, on weekends and on into the summer. They are out there and are making admirable contributions to the local business community and its economy. They are showing they have the initiative to help pay their way and are learning valuable lessons that will serve them well in years to come. Good for them.

But what does it say about the others? Are they looking for more sophisticated jobs other than entry level positions in the fast food or service sectors? Are the wages offered not in line with their lofty expectations? Are they already so financially secure that taking the summer off to enjoy beach life is not a hardship in the long-term?

The reasons are likely varied but having to return a student grant because of a lack of applicants sends a cautious message about the future of the workforce.

Joyce Walter can be reached at ronjoy@sasktel.net 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.