Muskens: New year is a time to assess how we’re doing overall

It’s the time of year to look back and reflect on what I learned in 2011.

It’s the time of year to look back and reflect on what I learned in 2011.

One of the most important things I gained in 2011 was a broader understanding of global inequality. Even though the occupy movement brought this to the forefront, I think monetary inequality has been rising for years and most of us probably know a family or two who have been struggling financially.

Since the 2008 recession many people that I know either lost their job, went back to school, got re-hired or are still unemployed.

There are also those who work at jobs that reflect neither their expertise nor education, in other words they are employed just because they need the job, and not because it’s the type of work they want to do.

So, when even education and work experience didn’t help some find employment in their field, it’s easy to see where the frustration began.

But the other side to this state of joblessness is the demand for workers in a number of fields such as the Canadian resource sector.

From what I can gather, throughout 2011 you either read about high unemployment or the inability for some employers to find qualified workers.

Which made me realize that education and gainful (including meaningful) employment comes down to understanding our global job market and embracing the education and training required to meet the jobs of tomorrow.

Without this foresight I think some young adults entering college and university today may not find exactly the jobs they are looking for upon graduation.

Another thing I learned this year is that high youth unemployment is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a country.

Research tells us that young adults who fail to transition into education and then employment, or just into employment for a number of years are more likely to remain chronically unemployed for a large portion of their working life.

Globally we have seen this happen in Great Britain, some European countries and pockets of communities within the United States.

This type of unemployment drains the spirit of our young people and impacts negatively on our communities.

And finally, one more thing I learned this year is even though I’ve been writing this column for a number of years, the college and university system is still very difficult for some people to understand.

Although this may not help explain how the B.C. post-secondary systems works, I can assure you that the reason it gets complicated is that not every student is the same and the system is there to help all students go to college or university.

And that’s what makes it so complicated.

In the province of B.C. with our system of community colleges, technical institutions, teaching universities and research universities, there are very few students who get turned away from getting a post-secondary education.

If a student isn’t admissible to university, many will enroll at a community college and transition from college to university, that’s what makes our system work.

So if you want to learn something this year and go back to school, don’t think you won’t get in. If you didn’t graduate from high school you can take adult upgrading at Okanagan College for entry into all college and university level programs.

If you are a high school grad, visit our Become A Student website at and apply early if you want to attend in the fall.

Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.



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