The Employment Situation as I Experienced it in Toronto, Canada
It is with a very heavy heart that I bought my one way ticket back to Toronto, Canada today. If I had a choice I would stay in the UK if I could. This seems to baffle people in England that I’ve told this to. They all say, “Why would you ever want to leave, it’s so beautiful there?”
I would have to say that Canada isn’t so beautiful when you’re unemployed and in debt, because after spending years and money on your university education there are no jobs for you and you are made to volunteer in the industry you’d like to be involved in. It’s not fun being made to work for free on the outside chance that maybe a position at the place will open up. I left Canada, because Canada had no use for me. There are just too many people with too much education in the country to fill up positions for teachers and other jobs.
Then why is Canada still taking in immigrants you might ask. Well, the reason is that most of these people work in industries that require little education (even though many of these people, like the Filipino nannys I have known are very well educated in their home countries). They can still make more money working as a maid in Canada than as a teacher or engineer in their home country.
As a kid I was always encouraged to try to get a university education so I could get a good job. But that’s not how it works in Canada. You get a university education, spend loads of money and go heavily into debt and then when you come out as a trained teacher, for example, you can’t get any work at all. Even low paying jobs in retail won’t hire you. They rightly suppose that you won’t want to stick around, because you’ll go to a job in your specialty as soon as one become available. Also, they don’t want someone more educated working under them, because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They feel happier with a worker who they may be able to underpay because they don’t know the rules of the country.
All my friends in Canada have post-secondary education, and almost of all of them, except those in fields related to medicine or oil extraction engineering are underemployed. The reason is that Canada’s population is aging. People do not have many children and the increase in population in the country is only down to immigration. Universities operate as for profit operations, so there are no restrictions on how many people are trained for jobs that don’t actually exist. There are huge imbalances in what the universities trained people for and what jobs are actually available. There are very few medical schools, and yet the population is aging quickly and doctors are so needed that we invite in medical students from Saudi Arabia to fill the gap. Meanwhile there are tons of surplus teachers floating around.
Many of my friends have been forced to leave Canada just to find work. This is why there are loads of Canadians teaching English in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
My friend who has a degree in history works in a comic book store. So does another friend with a degree in publishing. One friend with a degree in sociology became a manager at a Loblaws supermarket. Another with a master’s degree in screenwriting works as a bank teller. My brother, who has a masters in English literature has to live at home and work part time as a tutor. Everybody I know who went to teacher college with me is either working as a part time teaching assistant or has left the country to work in England or South East Asia. Another friend with a degree in English and a friend with a degree in fashion design are working as ushers in Roy Thomson Hall and apartment superintendents. My boyfriend spent many years working as a house painter because he couldn’t find steady work as a web designer after getting degrees in economics and another in web design. All these people are working for close to minimum wages, while at the same time trying to pay back school debts that drag on for decades.
Obviously, none of them are starving or forced to live on the street, but there’s so much desperation and disillusionment and unhappiness bound up in this trend. It’s hard when you want to participate in what you were trained to do, but you are just thrown out, shoved aside and rejected. Despite the fact that teachers are needed in the U.S. and UK you aren’t welcomed there either. This is especially stupid when members of your family have fought in wars and been wounded on behalf of the UK and US army, but because you were born in Canada it doesn’t matter. After a while of living like this, you become convinced.
I’ve spent so much time in Canada enduring minimal employment, living in my parent’s house because that was all I could afford, with a brother who was in the same predicament. Eventually after trying for work so many times and being rejected over and over again I became severely depressed. I lost confidence in my ability to doing anything at all. Since coming to the UK and finding work here I’ve felt so much better about myself. I’ve been able to live independently and participate in the field I studied in. If I had any UK or European ancestry I would be allowed to stay and pursue my trade, helping UK children learn, but the immigration department insists on seeing Canadians as foreigners. I don’t want to go back to all those months of unemployment and depression. This is why I’m dreading returning to Canada.