Adulthood looms

Congratulations, grads, and welcome to the real world.

Congratulations, grads, and welcome to the real world.

The recent graduation ceremonies at Stanley Humphries Secondary School celebrated the end of high school and the beginning of a new era of life. Joy and optimism about the future abounds during a time like this, as it should. These grads have lots to look forward to as they make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

And while this ought to remain a time for celebration, we can’t help but be a little worried about the economic challenges these graduates will face as they strike out on their own.

Just last Friday, Statistics Canada released its latest batch of data depicting the grim reality facing young people in this country. The unemployment rate among Canadians aged 24 and under remains at 14 per cent, which is more than twice the rate for those aged 25 and older.

Young Canadians who are lucky to enough to find jobs often settle for part-time and temporary positions. This is to be expected, somewhat, as many of these people are pursuing post-secondary studies but still, the part-time employment rate among youth stands at 48 per cent — more than three times that of Canadians older than 25. This same group of young people is also struggling with record student-debt levels and some of the highest housing prices in history, especially for those who want to attend college or university in places like Vancouver or Victoria.

But it’s not just the next few years that will be difficult. Long-term financial challenges also lie ahead for today’s youth, as it will be their future tax dollars that will simultaneously have to pay down the mounting national debt, cover ballooning health-care costs, and support the looming mass retirement of the biggest bulge in the our country’s increasingly inverted population pyramid — the Baby Boomers.

We hate to rain on the grads’ parade, but these economic and demographic realities are impossible to ignore. Today’s youth will need to put their education, skills and creativity to good use to meet the varied and numerous challenges confronting them as they become adults.

– Castlegar News