May 23, 2013

For Immediate Release

Halifax, N.S. — The Halifax Index 2013, released yesterday by the Greater Halifax Partnership, found that workers aged 45 and older made up fully 97% of labour force growth between 2006 and 2012. These findings starkly illustrate the barriers younger adults are facing in trying to find jobs across Nova Scotia, at the same time as the local 18-29 year-old population is expected to shrink 25% between 2011 and 2031.

“When the 45+ age group has absorbed all recent employment growth, our youth employment challenge has reached crisis proportions”, said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director. “In a quickly aging province, we can’t afford to systematically deny opportunities to young people, but that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Recognizing the major youth employment challenge, StudentsNS released a report last week that recommended tying tuition to the gap between employment among the 20-24 year-old cohort and those 25 and older. The gap has risen from 8.5% to 16.1% since the 2009 recession. According to StatsCan, Nova Scotia’s 15-24 year-olds had 9,600 fewer jobs this April than in December 2006, while workers over 55 gained 34,000 jobs.

“Many students and graduates want to stay in Nova Scotia, but can’t without meaningful employment opportunities,” said StudentsNS Chair, Kyle Power. “Young Nova Scotians face a catch-22. They need experience to get a good job, but they can’t get a job to gain experience.”

“Our governments and businesses are not doing enough to create opportunities for young people,” said Williams. “Employers have a responsibility to help develop our workforce by hiring and training young workers. All levels of government must do more to encourage youth employment in Nova Scotia.”

Many of these challenges are further magnified for international students and graduates. In research for a soon-to-be-released report, StudentsNS found that foreign students are disadvantaged by a lack of personal contacts, familiarity with local workplace cultures and at times a reluctance to hire those with “foreign accents”.

“This is about keeping local young people here, but also helping out-of-province and foreign students find opportunities so they can settle here”, said Power. “Considering our demographics, Nova Scotia’s future depends on us turning this around.”

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Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS) is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 87% of Nova Scotia university students. Our 37,471 members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities and the Atlantic School of Theology.

For further comment, please contact Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director
Phone: 902 422 4068
Cell: 902 483 5480
Email: director@studentsns.ca