Training for Employment

Today I’ll be participating in my first Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) test, as a single component of my ongoing application to be a park warden with the Federal Government. I’m nervous, but have many supporters and cheerleaders behind me, so I am simply going to do my best.

I first saw the posting for the park warden positions on Facebook, which supports my belief that social media has become an important force for young job hunters in today’s economy. From conversations with many of my peers in university, I know that job hunting is a very top-of-mind issue. Personally, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the current employment (and general economic) situation in Canada and around the world. The Globe and Mail has a series of articles on this topic, one of which labels youth unemployment as a “global crisis” (Yakabuski, June 3rd, 2013) and others which describe the skill mismatches between recent graduates and available employment (Herbert-Copley, August 12th, 2013). Films are being produced on this topic, describing the symptoms and problems associated with “Generation Jobless“.

The large number of university students entering the work force with useless (social studies, psychology etc.) degrees has increased, with a lower number of graduates in high-demand fields like math and science (see this CTV News report). College graduates with training in practical, hands-on skilled trades are also in high demand and weathering the recession better than those with non-skilled training (Bradshaw, June 25th, 2013). The government of Canada is now scrambling to correct the imbalances in education which are producing graduates in the wrong fields (Jobs and Job Creation), but it’s a slow process.

I’m a perfect example of everyone else my age – my parents both graduated from college programs, got steady and long-term careers in relevant fields, and have climbed their way to income stability. I was the first in my family to go to university, and a cloud of mystery and prestige followed my ascent into the ranks of a graduate student in a humanities-focused field. However, looking at the job market as it stands, I regret not going to college for practical training after my university career. Even if I continued to pursue doctoral studies right now, there is no guarantee that I would be able to obtain a position as tenured or tenure-track professor; these positions are on the decline (Data Check, July 16th, 2012). Although the skilled trades are seen as go-nowhere jobs, they are definitely on the rising tide for future employment (Macleans On Campus, March 19th, 2013).

The current recession also has significant implications for how I, and everyone else my age, will live. I personally relish the thought of living in a small house, with minimal material goods, to avoid accruing debt – though for many the thought of smaller homes and lifestyles is abhorrent or even unacceptable (Carrick, July 15th, 2013). This goes for careers as well; there are more and more applicants to the dwindling number of very prestigious, high-paying jobs.

Consequently, I am very happy and pleased to have the opportunity to compete for a position as park warden. If that plan (and my PARE test) should fail, I will continue to evaluate the job field and consider non-typical employment. I would encourage all my fellow graduates and/or current students to do the same. Think about what alternative positions are out there for you, and how you can train for them. Social media, and having a strong presence on it, is also invaluable for making you a ‘real’ person to the world at large; it is so important to market yourself as a product to potential employers, rather than waiting for them to find you.