The statistics are concerning.
In a study of 30,000 university students, carried out in 2013, “ninety percent of them were stressed,” said Noor Din, CEO of Human Endeavour, an organization focused on innovation in health, economic and social solutions. “They were totally unhappy.”
The causes of that unhappiness? A sense of isolation, a questioning of their purpose, the realization that they’d need more than one degree to get a job in their chosen field, the overwhelming financial burden.
“They went into university because everybody’s doing it,” said Din. It was only later that some realized, “Oh, this is not what I want to do,” he said.
That was the basis for the Youth “Career Clarity” Workshop organized by Human Endeavour and held at the EPIC Social Innovation and Training Hub in Bond Head on Tuesday.
The all-day workshop was designed to help students in high school make more informed career choices, before applying to a college, university or trade school.
The morning was spent discussing the overall employment situation for youth.
Din noted youth represent double the national average of unemployment. He talked about the challenges facing young people attempting to break into the job market and the impact of making uninformed career decisions.
One issue faced by young people: parental pressure and expectations, which may play an over-riding role in a career choice for some.
“Don’t just blindly go with parents’ desires,” Din said, advising students to fully investigate beforehand. If a career choice being pushed isn’t the right fit, just say so.
“It’s better to be up front, communicate with parents… because it’s your life. Somehow find confidence to talk to your family and friends,” said Din.
The workshop wasn’t designed to recommend a specific career path, but to provide students with tools to make informed choices.
Instructor Courtney Bruch, who led the workshop, could use her own experience as an example.
Now enrolled in a Masters of Social Work at Lakehead University, she initially studied to be a teacher, before realizing it “wasn’t a good fit, although I liked children… Now I’m going to become a therapist.”
Bruch, who had been working with Human Endeavour, saw the workshop as a way to help other students avoid the pitfalls of wasted time and money.
Nine young people signed up for the free all-day workshop, although only six showed up. There was one surprise: all of the participants were young women, in grades 9 through 12.
The all-female turn-out led to a slight modification of the focus – “Less on trades,” said Din – but the workshop still provided a combination of information, inquiry, and hands-on activity.
The students participated in an online HR-style quiz to assess their personalities and best career fit, leading to laughter, and some thoughtful discussion of future career paths.
“I kind of know (what to study), but now I’m thinking about it,” said a participant.
She had been contemplating engineering as a career choice; the quiz didn’t turn her away from engineering, but suggested that she might do even better as an entrepreneur.
Forensic science, teaching, psychology, marine biology – the young women identified possible careers and interests, but all admitted they had more research to do before settling on a career path.
Then they picked up a hammer and nails and built their own birdhouses to take home. It was an excercise to help students “get out of their comfort zone, that’s books, tests, etc.,” said Din, by trying something new and discovering unexpected strengths and skills.
The EPIC Training Centre and Human Endeavour have both been impacted by provincial budget cuts, but Din said they remain “committed to providing services for seniors and youth and for others.”
Programs like the Youth Career Clarity Workshop contribute to the quality of life, especially in small communities like Bond Head, and can be life-changing and affirming for participants, he said.
Human Endeavour’s HOPE Resource Hub-Seniors Active Living Centre will be holding a special session on Wednesday, Sept. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the EPIC Social Innovation and Training Hub, 4208 County Rd. 88 in Bond Head, to explore services for seniors in Bond Head and Bradford.
The consultation will look at the service needs of diverse seniors, services that could reduce isolation and improve health and wellness. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, or to sign up for the Seniors’ Consultation Session, contact Noor Din at 416-726-3252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The HOPE Resource Hub is funded by the government of Ontario; the Epic Training Hub is supported by the Town of BWG, and both are operated by Human Endeavour.