One piece of the job(less) puzzle

It is becoming increasingly clear that we are at a tipping point with our education systems and job market. Our education systems are producing more grads but our professions are not hiring them. Instead, graduates are left desperately searching any form of work. This can result in getting a part-time job at a coffee shop or restaurant and struggling to make ends meet.

This desperate job market is begging us to take wait staff and baristas seriously. When I worked at a coffee shop people constantly asked me “what are you going to do next?” or “are you in school?” Why don’t we respect these jobs? Why are they not viable careers?

I’m sure we can come up with excuses for why we don’t encourage people to devote their time and energy to being the best barista or cashier they can be. However, I think we should do the opposite.

Considering that we live in a society that demands that its members contribute to the economy we cannot afford to disregard certain jobs just because they don’t fit the traditional 9-5, suit and tie, career advancement mold that we’ve come to idolise. If someone is passionate about pouring the perfect shot of espresso for someone shouldn’t that be encouraged?

The biggest argument against respecting positions like the barista or customer sales associate is that the employee leaves as soon as something better comes along. Therefore, investing in these employees can cost a lot if they don’t return the investment by just leaving. To be fair, that is a valid point but there is a way to keep staff from leaving as soon as something better comes along.

Make the job an appealing end goal rather than a stepping stone. Employers need to invest in their employees. Offering a competitive wage and encouraging a healthy corporate culture are great places to start. This can only lead to good things, both for the employer and the employee. In the context of the service industry, the general public can improve the job by treating their servers with respect and appreciation.

I believe we are at a point when the current system needs to be changed. It doesn’t need to be a radical change but there needs to be a change. Many people are being forced to take jobs that have traditionally been temporary. If we start treating these jobs with more respect by making them desirable and valued, then more people will seek these jobs out from the beginning. This could then lessen the strain on the job market and maybe minimize student debt. Someone who wants to be a bartender won’t pursue an engineering degree only to find no jobs in that field and end up bartending and needing to pay off a large debt.

I strongly suggest watching the CBC documentary Generation Jobless to get a better understanding of the job climate that my generation and the next one are currently experiencing as we leave school for the working world. 

One thought on “One piece of the job(less) puzzle

  1. When the LCBO was about to strike last Spring this was a point that I tried to get across. Many a comment section on news articles about the looming strike was full of 9-5 suits scoffing at the idea of people in the service industry being paid a liveable wage. Looking down their nose at these jobs, while also asking whatever would they do without us if we were to simply not go to work. We need the service industry. We complain when they don’t care enough about their jobs to make an effort. But then so many of us balk at the idea of actually considering these jobs careers, and treating them with respect. You can’t have it both ways.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. We need to stop disrespecting these people and these jobs. If we taught our kids that there is no shame in serving coffee, helping customers, working a till, if we didn’t tell them the only way to a decent life was to accrue tens of thousands of dollars of debt in school they don’t want in the first place, and if these jobs allowed workers to actually afford a decent life rather than just getting by, then I think our economy and our happiness as a people would be significantly better.

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