Ron McGowan recalls how he found his first job through a newspaper posting — something close to unimaginable in 2017.
“When I think back on how I found work in those days, it was so easy. So easy. Compared to what it is today. A lot of people don’t understand that, because they relate that experience to what they experienced when they graduated back then,” he says.
McGowan is a Vancouver man who is on a mission — one he’s been on for the past 20 years. He wants to help new graduates find jobs.
A report by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation says the unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24, was more than 13 per cent; underemployment — unmet employment needs — is more than 27 per cent.
“What I have learned is that graduates don’t understand today’s work place and neither do their parents [or] society. That’s the problem — everybody’s just bewildered,” says McGowan.
There’s a disconnect, he adds, between what the government and the education sectors do to help new graduates find work. The problem, he says, is that the people giving the advice live in a world far removed from the workplaces that youth are entering. “They have jobs — steady, permanent, lots of benefits. How can they relate to what the youth will face?”
McGowan, who worked at BCIT for 14 years, says his career in the post-secondary institution has opened his eyes and has made him understand the struggles that today’s youth face.
Finding a job in an online world
“I’ve been downsized myself number of times. So I know what it’s like to start over in today’s world and in today’s work place,” says McGowan. “So, I know what the youth are up against because I’m up against it, too.”
After one of his downsizings, he decided to “take charge” and work for himself. For six years, he ran a company called Executives for rent. He helped managers and executives who had been downsized and wanted to become contractors and consultants find contract work.
Then, it dawned on him. He realized that the job market’s changed. This realization has sparked his urge to help new graduates entering the professional work force.
McGowan, author of the book How to Find Work in The 21st Century first published in 2000, has spent the past two decades conducting workshops, presentations, and seminars across Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Recently, he took a break and strategized a better way to access and reach millennials. Instead of going through the hoops of organizing workshops, he has decided to move everything online.
And the best part, he offers all of this service for free — with one condition.
“They have to know what kind of work they want. If they don’t, I can’t help them,” he says.
He offers services such reviewing an applicant’s resume and cover letter, coaching them about the significance of online presence, and hunting for hidden (non-advertised) jobs.
Ultimately, McGowan says, he wants to train these graduates to do the work he’s doing and to make them share what they learned from him to others. He also hopes to find funding for his program so that, in the future, new graduates get paid while they share what they learned.
‘It’s in the interest of today’s generation to take charge,” says McGowan. “A lot of people are critical of this generation and I say to them, ‘Look you have no idea how tough it is for these people compared to what you experienced when you graduated.’”
You can contact Ron McGowan through Howtotfindwork.ca.