CAREER ADVICE: Desi HR Guy on high youth unemployment and temporary foreign workers

Published: November 29, 2012

Most in-demand and lucrative aerospace careers don’t require a university degree but do require some form of post-secondary education.


You may have heard about temporary foreign workers in the media recently.  Why do we have to bring in foreigners on a temporary basis when we have high youth unemployment (around 15 per cent the last time I checked)?  We live in an interesting time and I will do my best to explain this unique situation.

In a knowledge based economy many industries such as Aerospace, Mining, and Information Technology are growing rapidly and need educated, skilled workers with specific work experience.  This is a global problem.  Companies like Google with head offices in Silicon Valley will do whatever it takes to attract global talent. Did you know that there now over 300,000 Canadians living and working in Silicon Valley?

Changing demographics are compounding the problem.  Accelerated and unanticipated retirements are one problem as Baby Boomers have begun to retire in large numbers.   Due to reduced birthrates, enrolments are declining in schools across Canada leading to record number of school closures every year. We simply don’t have enough people entering the workforce to replace the retiring workers and this trend will continue.

Some might say to solve the high youth unemployment problem we graduate more students from universities and colleges and that should solve the skills shortage problem.   The problem is a little more complicated.  A major hiring challenge identified by recruiters is finding candidates with specific skills and experience they are looking for.  Most applicants, especially youth, are unqualified.  A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Sociology isn’t going to cut it if you need to hire skilled people in aerospace to work on airplanes and helicopters.

Most in-demand and lucrative aerospace careers don’t require a university degree but do require some form of post-secondary education which is tailored to match skills that are in short supply.  A good example of this is the Aircraft Structures Technician program offered at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

Aircraft structures technicians are responsible for the assessment, planning and implementation of aircraft structural fabrication and repairs. BCIT and UFV programs are approximately 10 months of full-time studies. Entrance requirements for the programs include secondary school graduation (Grade 12) or equivalent and a Math and English comprehension entrance exam.  I have added the links to the programs below.

Majority of the students are hired before they graduate yet both programs have to rely heavily on international students from Korea and China, because there is a lack of interest in this career from Canadian students.  Something I don’t understand; who doesn’t want to be around airplanes and helicopters?

After graduation, those international students often return back to their home countries and the remaining graduates are sometimes hired by companies in other industries, as the skills are transferrable.  The aerospace companies continue to struggle with a skills shortage, especially as business demand picks up, so they have to look to temporary foreign workers.

In order to alleviate the skills shortage problem our economy faces high school and university students need to be where the jobs are; unfortunately this is not happening so expect to hear more about the temporary foreign worker program and high youth unemployment in the future.

It’s now time to “Occupy” my couch and watch the news.  Did you know that youth unemployment hit above 50 per cent in Spain recently while it’s only 7.9 per cent in Germany?  Germany must be doing something right.

Pavi Toor is a Human Resources Manager and operates the site He can be reached at


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