Youth unemployment: exploring the impact

A new documentary being made by an award-winning filmmaker and University of Toronto Mississauga guest lecturer will go behind the statistics of high unemployment among Canada’s youths to explore their personal stories of career challenge and resilience.

“Young people are coming out of a very structured and safe environment. And then they’re in a sense being let loose into this world that is really unsafe for them in terms of their expectations and their dreams,” says Maureen Judge, the director and producer behind the upcoming film My Millennial Life. Judge also teaches a video marketing class in the Digital Strategy & Communications Management Continuing Studies certificate program offered at UTM.

The idea for the film began percolating after Judge learned of recent youth unemployment levels in Europe, which in some places is as high as 50 per cent. That prompted Judge to probe the situation in Canada, which today has a national youth unemployment average of 14 per cent — more than double the rate for adults. This labour market trend is exacerbated by the number of underemployed youths in Canada, which hovers at around 25 per cent. 

In examining the whys behind these numbers, Judge points to two culprits: the recent global recession — youth unemployment in this country has not rebounded to its pre-2008 level of about 11 per cent; and the broader, longer shift to less job security, in which the norm of a long-term, benefits-included career with one company has been replaced by workers bouncing around from one contract job to another.

But more interesting to Judge is what this labour market trend means to new graduates and final-year post-secondary school students who, despite their solid credentials and sufficient drive, are struggling to enter the workforce. She wants to show firsthand the emotional impact of having to cope with joblessness at the start of their career lives. She also wants to reflect how this issue is affecting their choices about whether to upgrade their education, and how to take their career into their own hands.

“I hope to show how people adapt, so we’re aiming to include at least a couple of entrepreneurs, because I think that’s becoming more and more the way, as people have to be self-starters,” says Judge, who herself has two kids who are part of Generation Y.

Judge’s Toronto-based film and TV production company, Makin’ Movies Inc., produced the Genie Award-winning documentary Unveiled: The Mother Daughter Relationship. Most recently she produced Living Dolls, a documentary about the world of doll collectors that will broadcast this fall on Global. My Millennial Life should be completed by next spring and will air on TVO, and will include a digital component on the TVO website.

“I hope to create some discussion around this subject, and maybe it will have some kind of effect on the way people look at policy on this issue,” Judge says. “But I guess I’m really making it more for the Millennials themselves, so that they can see themselves reflected in it and see what kind of choices they might have.”

Judge is currently looking for new graduates or final-year students to interview for the film — UTM students who want to participate may contact her at

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