A sponsored trip to the 2015 CCCE Conference in Ottawa

On Monday, April 13, 2015 I took part in an exciting opportunity to attend the Canadian Council for Chief Executive‘s (“CCCE”) annual conference in Ottawa on behalf of the Canadian Intern Association.

This year the conference theme was “Creating Opportunities: Jobs and Skills for the 21st Century” and TalentEgg partnered in sponsoring the attendance of several young Canadians through a contest. Check out the conference agenda here and the contest information here. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who made by attendance and participation at the conference possible.

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The following is a summary of my experience at the 2015 CCCE conference.

1) The Contest

The CCCE and TalentEgg contest required me to film a 30 second video asking the CCCE a question about the issues facing young people entering the workforce. On a blistering cold Sunday afternoon I filmed my submission; posing the question, “With upwards of 300,000 unpaid internships occurring across the country this is an issue that must be addressed. What changes and improvements do you believe the private and educational sectors can make towards improving the situation of unpaid internships?” You can view the full video here.

2) An Optimistic Outlook?

The conference opened with the presentation of a study conducted by Abacus Data. The study is titled, “Life, work and the emerging workforce: a study of the perceptions and attitudes of Canada’s emerging millennial generation” and it can be found here. The survey conducted by Abacus of 1,700 Canadians aged 18 to 35 states that, “the so-called millennial generation are confident in their abilities, surprisingly optimistic and hopeful about their long-term prospects, but insecure about the availability of good-paying jobs for people their age.” Take a look at the study, it offers some interesting insights, however I’m surprised at some of the findings, including, “Young Canadians are more optimistic than pessimistic about the job market.”

3) Generational Lines

Throughout the conference I noticed a few comments that were a little off-putting – to put it lightly. Points were made about how the younger generations are ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’ and ‘out-of-touch with the events of the world’. Here is the issue with those statements. Every generation since the beginning of time has viewed the generation that follows it in a critical manner. Generation Y and the Millennials are not the first generation, nor will they be the last, to receive criticism from an elder generation. However, at times it seems this generation is being singled out as being unique in its problems. We have our faults, but so do all generations – there’s no need to repeatedly take a swipe at a generation that is emerging into one of the toughest job markets in recent memory. Let’s move past these generalizations and work on developing opportunities that provide benefits for all age groups.

4) Developments between the private sector and educational institutions

A common theme throughout the conference was the discussion on the role of post-secondary education. Employers are viewing the emerging young workforce as ill-prepared and lacking the skills for supposed ‘entry-level’ positions. To solve this problem, internships, generally unpaid, are being established to train recent graduates to a level deemed entry-level worthy. Increasing the number of unpaid internships is not a solution. The solution needs to come from discussions between all parties, post-secondary institutions, companies and students themselves. Post-secondary education must evolve to meet the demands of the rapidly changing market.

 5) A seat at the table.

As a follow up to the previous point the CCCE has taken a positive step by creating a roundtable group that will feature leaders from higher education and business. The roundtable will focus on improving school-to-work transitions. This is a step in the right direction; however, there is no current representation at the table by the affected generation(s). Let us have a say. Engage young people and give them a seat at the table.

There was a lot of talk of how there needs to be change, but it will be interesting to see what action will be taken. What company will step up and set a positive example?

Thank you for the discussion, CCCE. Now, let’s get down to business.