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Youth education: we need to do better

It is an incredibly common occurrence for workers’ rights to be neglected, and as workers continue to be taken advantage of by their employers, it has become evident that employees must be better equipped with resources to defend themselves in the workplace.

This all comes down to education. All workers have rights, but many of them are left in the dark as to what exactly these rights are. Educating people about their rights as workers needs to be a top priority for governments and institutions, and this education needs to start well before individuals join the workforce.

While high school students are taught business skills and financial literacy in school, our systems are failing to appropriately educate our youth on their rights as workers and the history of labour in Canada.

During an interview with PressProgress, Stephanie Ross, professor at McMaster University’s School of Labour Studies, said “It’s fair to say that most students taking intro to labour studies at university are not very aware of either unions or workers’ rights, it clearly continues to be underemphasized.”

Similarly, Erika Shaker, the Education Director at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives believes there is a serious gap in the education system when it comes to preparing young adults for the workforce. Shaker states, “When we say kids need to learn about financial literacy or career studies, that must come with a basic knowledge of how collective action ensures a better standard of living and quality of work life…”

Lastly, Simon Black, a professor in Brock University’s Department of Labour expresses the need to improve the education system. He states, “Workers rights, labour history and labour relations may find a place in civics, history or social science classes, but it’s very uneven … We need to change that. Young workers need to know their rights and know how workers past and present change the world of work for the better.”

As expressed by the statements of these educators, we need to do much better for our youth. Young workers are entering the workforce without the knowledge and resources they need to ensure they are treated fairly in their place of work.

Teamsters 987 works hard to address this issue by engaging with the next generation of workers through our Youth Committee. Interested in finding out more about the Local 987 Youth Committee? Get in touch with us.

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