I spent last Saturday in Ottawa writing free personal poems for young and older adults at a book fair. One of my passions.
I didn’t sell a thing. Yet it was a very rewarding day.
My overall conclusion from asking questions to people all day?
It sucks to be young (or old) and not being able to work your passion. Case in point. Two young women who were working dead end assembly jobs just to stay in their home community. Their faces literally drooped to downcast when I asked them what they did for a living. No pride, no enthusiasm and obviously unaffordable dental hygiene. Both had post grad university educations.
What the hell are we doing for our next gen? Not enough in my view. We convince them to mortgage their futures getting a higher education then we relegate them to measly service jobs, unpaid apprenticeships, job sharing or no job at all. Which can lead to substance abuse, low morale and less-than-optimum health. And let’s not even get started on relationships.
My day at the fair turned into a daylong discussion of the state of the world from all ages. And the general consensus was – “not good” or “in transition.” And this in a city where there is a high standard of government job living.
So let’s ask ourselves. What can we all do to help young people find their passion? For starters, we are lucky that we are in North America and not Europe where youth unemployment is at catastrophic levels. Sooner than later, that leads to war over limited resources.
I believe that we as an advanced (but still young) society in North America have an obligation to provide young people with the avenues to succeed on their own. And it doesn’t have to be a pure handout. Quebec has an interesting program where someone with an entrepreneurial idea and a good business plan (which they are helped to develop) can get a year of minimum wage salary to formulate and launch their idea – whether it be business, art, non-profit or otherwise. Not a bad start – but still a bureaucratic government initiative. What if private industry were to offer a similar style program for project development? What if our education systems actually encourage entrepreneurial thinking from grade school? What if our counsellors helped youth define their passion? What if there were more paid apprenticeship positions? Or more Craig Kielburgers encouraging youth empowerment?
Everyone needs to find purpose in what they do so they can apply it with passion. And it is up to us aging cats to help young people find theirs.
Or they are simply not going to take care of us down the road.