Precarious Work and Youth

The term precarious work is often thrown around in the media, but what does it really mean? Simply put, precarious work is any work that isn’t steady, guaranteed employment. This includes part-time work, contract work, and temp jobs. This gig economy has led to an increase in people working 2 or 3 part-time jobs to earn a full salary. And while it may sound awesome to say you’ve got a side hustle, the reality is anything but awesome.

Precarious work has put a strain on the well-being of Canadians and disproportionally impacts young workers. But when millennials try to speak out about the hardships their generation faces, their issues are trivialized, they’re called lazy or entitled, and someone inevitably brings up participation trophies.

Delayed departure

Young people are living with their parents longer, because they can’t fi nd employment that pays the rent or buys a home. Almost one-quarter of millennials are employed in temporary or contract jobs. Even when precarious work pays well, millennials are unwilling to take the risk and relocate for short contract positions, because their next job search may be in a different city or even a different province. Additionally, millennials are putting off having children until their 30s, or just not having them period. And with the average cost of raising a child estimated at over $13,000 a year, who can blame them?

Education is not a golden ticket

Young Canadian workers are the most educated cohort to ever enter the workforce. Unfortunately, a bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees steady employment—or any employment at all. Almost onethird of millennials are not working in the fi eld they studied and 1 in 5 Canadians is underemployed. Additionally, many employers are unwilling to hire millennials that they feel are overeducated for a position, when the reality is millennials are willing to take anything they can get.

Working more for less

Millennials are working longer hours at multiple jobs, and still earning less than workers employed in full-time, permanent positions. One reason for this is because part-time and temporary work rarely come with benefi ts, such as sick leave, health and dental care, or paid vacation time. Most millennials don’t even think of saving when they’re struggling to pay for basic expenses and paying off student debt. Precarious work doesn’t lend itself to fi nancial security, and contract work rarely comes with a pension plan. The result?—millennials are coming up short in the present and likely will in the future.

Unions are here to help

The good news is, millennials have unions in their corner. It’s time to stop treating millennial workers like they’re disposable or worth less than their parents’ generation.