MILLENNIALS NEED TO LISTEN TO COLIN KAEPERNICK. They need to “Dream Crazy.” If they don’t, little is likely to change for them.
Kaepernick is the spokesperson for a brand new Nike campaign that talks about dreams, goals, and striving to do more than you ever thought possible. As the narrator talks about the importance of embracing “crazy” dreams, we see footage and hear stories of incredible accomplishments.
Kaepernick was a National Football League quarterback when he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games in 2016. He did it to protest against racial injustice and the police killings of unarmed black men and women.
The team dropped him. No other team has picked him up. Donald Trump regularly attacks him. None of it has stopped Kaepernick.
Millennials could use a little of that Colin Kaepenick inspiration and determination to grab their future by the face. Right now it looks pretty bleak.
Not much to look forward to
Youth today are less and less likely to find full-time employment: almost 13% are unemployed, while a third of those aged 24-29 are underemployed. Only 48% of young workers are working full-time, and those jobs are increasingly likely to be temporary. They are also twice as likely to be laid off than older workers
Precarious work is now the norm, and it’s taking its toll on our youth. In Hamilton, for example, where 60% of all workers have precarious jobs, a quarter of the young workers there report mental health issues, with nearly a third of them stressed out and depressed because of their work situation.
The youth employment situation has been made even worse by an influx of workers 60 years and older into the job market. Seniors unable to make ends meet are taking many of the poorly-paid service jobs that young people just entering the labour market used to have all to themselves.
Higher education was once almost a guarantee of decently-paid, stable employment. Not now. About all a university degree guarantees now is a crushing student debt load. The chances of finding a stable and well-paid job to pay it off is remote. As for home ownership and a secure retirement? Forget it.
Feds response: like it or lump it
Is this “job churn” environment all that young workers can expect for a future? The current Liberal government appears to think so. Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, a human resources millionaire, told Liberal party insiders in 2016 that the government needs to prepare for high turnover and short-term contracts among youth because such jobs are here to stay.
“How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job? Because it’s going to happen. We have to accept that,” Morneau said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says young people should “get used to it.”
But why should they? Working short-term contracts with poor pay and no benefits isn’t necessarily a voluntary matter, contrary to what Trudeau and Morneau have suggested: far too often, there is no choice involved. Young workers are casualties, in fact, of Canada’s deep and growing inequality, fueled by exploitative employer practices.
Patrick Imbeau is tired of the common complaint that his generation is a bunch of spoiled whiners. He held down three jobs while working on his PhD and the debt still piled up after tuition prices doubled during the time he was at school.
Some ready to ‘dream crazy’
Not all millennials are ready to simply accept the status quo. Some are out there helping to change things for the better, playing their part in organizing the low-paid service sector, for example, and becoming actively involved in politics.
Hilary Zordrager is one. She got politically involved for the first time in the recent Ontario election, working for the NDP. She says: “The NDP makes me feel optimistic and hopeful about my future in a way that I don’t feel about the Conservative or Liberal platforms….My peers are largely disenchanted with politics. There is potential for us to have a government that works and a government that cares about issues that impact youth and marginalized groups.”
Back in the 70s the punks rose up angry to sing about “no future now.” Millennials today have no better future to look to. Are they ready to rise up angry or will they be content to just listen to their iphone playlists unwilling to dream crazy.
This article was originally published by The Canadian Labour Institute.
Reprinted with permission for CALM Members use.