When it's hard to predict which job is a dead end and which one could make a career, to whom can job hunters turn? And who is watching out for young job-seekers, whose unemployment rates are almost double those of the rest of the population and who are giving up, in growing numbers, even looking for work? Young people need real connections to the job market, a helping hand to make their resumes rise and sing. That's why Canada needs a national mentorship program, to help smooth the transition to the world of work.
Many voluntary or ad hoc mentorship programs already exist. But to formalize the approach, Canada's professional colleges of engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers and nurses, as well as boards which certify tradespeople, could set a certain number of mentoring hours as a requirement for certification. (Of course, both mentors and young people must be carefully screened, to ensure the adult is appropriately trained and the youth is a willing disciple.)
Youth employment programs for those aged 15 to 24 are still needed. But mentorship programs offer the intangible: job etiquette, personal networks and social capital. Studies show that the presence of a supportive adult in the lives of students from troubled backgrounds can mitigate the negative effects of their backgrounds and make it more likely they will attend university or college.
Young people deserve to take their rightful place in the labour market. How else will they become happy, productive adults - not to mention consumers and taxpayers?