WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
W. T. WEBB
MORE THAN 4,000 young men will graduate from Canada's universities and colleges this June, mentally trained and disciplined for citizenship. Where are they going? What will they do?
Will they wear out shoe leather in a futile hunt for employment? Will they, in the bitterness of disappoint ment, develop in Canada a discontented intellectua proletariat such as exists in Germany and Poland, signs o which are already appearing in the United States and ever m some universities of this Dominion?
Never before in Canada s comparatively brief history ha: such a problem been presented. Across Canada, thousand: of young men are idle, and others are graduating to joir them in idleness. Equipad for life’s great adventure, keer and highly trained mentally, in excellent condition physi cally, willing and determined to work and to succeed i pven a chance, they face a nation and a world that virtually have no use for them.
Industry, battered by the depression of the past thre years, declares it has troubles enough in keeping employee those already on its payroll; that it is doing its utmost. Bu is it. The professions are crowded, as more and still mon ¡young men strive to find places therein. In the home. t problem of employment for the growing boy is the night mare of parents. W hat is Canada going to do about it From Nova Scotia to British Columbia the problen prevails and its seriousness is not diminished in an v provino of the Confederation, whether in the industrial East, tb agricultural Mid-west or the mineralized, timbered mountaii province of the Pacific.
Sir Arthur Currie, Principal of McGill University, would, under normal circumstances, have graduates stand on their own feet, feeling that knocks and bumps are "the makings of a man.” But, lie admits, the footing has been kicked from under them, and the situation is bad indeed when willing young men are unable to find work enough to provide the bare necessities of life. Something must be done, not only in the interests of graduates but for the security of the nation itself.
Danger of Radicalism
I N NORMAL TIMES, Sir Arthur joints out, there was no I necessity of appealing for the university graduate, because the function of the university is to equip a man with training and discipline sufficient for him to face the world. But business depression has changed almost everything. And on no individual is it working a greater hardship than the young man leaving university.
Sir Arthur agrees that the danger of an educated proletariat is very real in Canada.
"How can you exj>ect anything else if the educated youth of our land find that the world, as it is today, has no use for them? They demand the right to live, to work, to prosper. Canada and the world must face the problem of a growing manhood that is determined to take its place in the general scheme of things.”
Others join Sir Arthur in declaring that Canada should see that these graduates are given employment, because nationally it is her duty so to do. In the light of good citizenship and national progress, avenues of employment must be opened for them. From unemployment comes radicalism of the rankest kind. If graduates find that, after years of mental training and discipline, they are shunned by Canada and the world, constitutional government may expect at
least one appalling consequence. A nation cannot expect otherwise if its trained youth is barred from the exercise oj minds keyed for constructive effort.
Dr. Robert C. Wallace, President of the University of Alberta, says:
“One of the most depressing situations in connection with the economic difficulties of the present time is that young men and women, who have spent time and money in training themselves for life occupations, find it extremely difficult to obtain employment. It is a tragedy when men and women at that stage of life have their hopes broken and their enthusiasms shattered.”
Cecil C. Jones, of the University of New Brunswick, states:
"The problem of employment for university graduates is. without question, a very serious one, possibly the most serious facing the universities at the present time.”
Other university leaders, foreseeing a cankerous growth of dissatisfied youth, agree that everything must be done to give university graduates employment. We have brought them into the world, we have given them our time and attention: parents and the state, the latter particularly, have contributed to the considerable cost of their education. It is essential that avenues of employment should lx opened for them. But how and where?
UNIVERSITY TRENDS in the past three years have revealed unusual increases in enrolment, due to employment conditions. The larger branches of study have been affected as follows, the figures being for 1930 and 1931 respectively:
Arts and pure science, 16,637 and 18.187; engineering and applied science, 3,380 and 3,827; medicine and dentistry, 3,230 and 3,353; theology. 2,083 and 2,192; agriculture. 956 and 1,277; the total for full-time undergraduates in 1930
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being 30.359 and for 1931, 32,783. In 1932 still greater increases were recorded.
The increased enrolment during the past year for postgraduate courses demonstrates how seriously unemployment has hit university graduates. In Toronto University alone, many men have been taking postgraduate courses because they couldn’t get jobs. As more and more join the jobless, the university is sounding a plea for them to return to the lecture rooms if they can in any way finance themselves. A similar condition exists in every university centre in the country. A postgraduate course is the alternative to employment, and lucky are the graduates who can dig down deep enough for fees and food and life's bare necessities. There are many who can’t.
7 ypical of the situation in all Canadian universities from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the University of New Brunswick may be taken as an example. This year it has a graduating class of seventy-seven and. judging by the experience of 1932. it will be very difficult to place half of them: which means that fifty per cent may be jobless. Fourteen were graduated in each of the departments of civil and electrical engineering. The men in civil engineering may have some chance to find employment locally in survey parties, highway construction and in other ways. It will certainly
bc very difficult to place the whole number in anything like remunerative positions.
A few years ago New Brunswick’s electrical graduates were quickly absorbed by large industrial firms in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and other centres. In the past year or two, very few students have been taken on.
New Brunswick has one of the few forestryschools in Canada. This year, eight young men will graduate in this department. \\ ill they find jobs? The large pulp and paper concerns in Quebec, where these graduates were in demand a few years ago, are finding conditions increasingly difficult. Although a few men have been taken on by some concerns, others have been compelled to let trained men go. This has produced an unfortunate situation in this department.
Heretofore, a large number of forestry graduates have been employed in Dominion and provincial forest services, but the employment situation has been seriouslyaffected by dismissals from the Dominion Í service which, President Jones of the University of New Brunswick states, "to some extent seems to be unwise and rather unnecessary.”
Generally speaking, however, engineering and applied science men will find fewer rocks in the road than the hundreds who
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turn to commerce and finance for employment. Take the department of political economy at the University of Toronto. This department is mainly or wholly responsible for about 400 honor undergraduates, about two-thirds of these being in the course of commerce and finance, and about onethird in the political science course. It is also mainly responsible for nearly 100 students in the branch of the pass course, popularly called “pass commerce,” and for some dozens of graduate research students. That is to say, apart from the 700 other students to whom it gives instruction but for whom it is not w'holly responsible, it has rather more than 500 undergraduates and graduates who are committed to its charge. This year, the graduating class numbers about seventy in the case of commerce and finance; about twenty in the case of political science and pass commerce, respectively; which, with the graduates receiving the master’s degree in June, gives a combined total of about 120. One hundred and twenty young men in a single department of one university alone who will look to ordinary business channels for employment !
“Employ Until it Hurts”
-THE SOLUTION, Dr. Cody, President of I the University of Toronto, believes, rests with Canadians and Canadian business in all its phases.
“It is in the best interests of Canadian business and Canadian youth, and in the interests of the entire Dominion, that educated Canadians with the discipline and mental training that a university education has provided them should be given the opportunity of using their knowledge, their skill and the power of their leadership in their own land. The conservation of our youth is not only our hope but our very salvation.”
President Cody goes further and declares that "industry must employ until it hurts.”
“It is a duty resting on all of us,” Dr. Wallace of Alberta University asserts, “to do what we can to provide work at least and, as far as possible, remuneration for these young graduates. I have found that if even work is provided and mere sustenance, it helps to maintain morale. University graduates who will make an appeal to business firms and to others during the next few months are an exceedingly valuable asset to Canada, and it is. I feel, unnecessary to say that everything should be done and, I trust, will be done, to utilize this source of new energy and power and knowledge in our communities.”
President Cecil C. Jones, of the University of New Brunswick, feels that the situation requires that all business and industrial firms do their very best to maintain their staffs at full strength, “even with considerable sacrifice of their financial returns.” Anything which will tend to maintain public confidence will work for the general good eventually.
“On the whole,” he adds, “I do not see how anything better can be suggested than that all employers of technically trained men should, so far as possible, give a preference to the young man who has had the advantage of university training. This applies also to financial and commercial firms who have, even in a small w'ay, openings for young men with a fair opportunity for advancement.”
University leaders take the long view in considering the immediate situation. They would have business concerns recruit the young graduates of today for the executive positions of tomorrow because of the ability these young men have today. They stress the fact that the university graduate is the logical recruit who should be chosen, trained and fitted for the key positions that the youth of today must occupy twenty years from now. They appeal for the university trained man, confident that the broad foundations of his intellectual attainments fit him for leadership. Moreover, they stress their belief that business is suffering now largely because of a dearth of capable executives who were not recruited years ago.
Trained Minds Are Best
IT IS A MATTER of record that the wisest : I business corporations have sought to j secure trained minds without reference to subjects already studied in the university. At the head of one of Canada’s leading advertising agencies is a brilliant honor classics graduate of McGill University. Others who specialized in the Romance languages and fine arts have proved, and are proving, highly successful in commercial and industrial fields. Then, again, there is the president of a large packing company in Canada who says he prefers a first-class j graduate in honor mathematics to a first! class graduate in commerce and finance, but! takes the commerce and finance men because j they are good and because they are more easily available.
University trained men have proved their worth in every line of endeavor to which they have been recruited, and today are occupying executive positions in many of them. While, naturally, some graduates have been unable to accommodate themselves to the needs of business, an extraordinary percentage have been capable of learning the routine much quicker than non-graduates and, in addition, of assimilating the routine without loss of personal initiative.
Business, as Professor Gilbert Jackson of the political economy department in the University of Toronto, points out, has learned a good deal about graduates in two ways. First, by forming impressions from the progress of individual graduates and, second, by studying statistically the progress of graduates in mass. The general impression, based upon individual experience, has to do with the manner in which the graduate finds himself in business. He has the advantage of an education very much superior to that of the boy who goes into business at seventeen years of age.
Statistical studies of the progress of graduates have been made by the Bell Telephone Company in Canada and, on a larger scale, by the American Telegraph and Telephone Corporation in the United States, and the principal point that emerges is the close correlation between high scholarship in undergraduate life and progress in business after graduation. The superiority of the man with a first-class academic record is not clearly visible, as a rule, in the first j five years after graduation and is not very j marked in the second five years. But, by the | time a graduate has been fifteen or more ¡ years in business, the connection between the quality of his scholarship and his rate of progress after graduation is abundantly clear. Academic records are thus, apparently, keys to character, as well as intellij gence and ability.
Take the case of the Bell Telephone Company. Many of the executives of that corporation are university graduates who have worked up from the ranks. It is on record that in one department alone, seventy five per cent of the employees were university men who were so much above the average in ability that they were promoted to higher offices in other branches, depleting that department to such an extent that it had to be recruited anew, other university men being taken on.
Keep College Men in Canada
IN THE YEARS of prosperity, the great I corporations showed keen competition to secure the best graduates. Leading commercial firms in the United States sent officials of their staff departments to the leading universities each spring with a view to selecting the best men before graduation. The same thing occurred in Canada and, in the case of commerce and finance, it was not uncommon for corporations like the Bell Telephone Company, the Sun Life, Canada Packers, Procter and Gamble and others to interview the graduating class.
"Canada’s best brains are in her educated youth,” Sir Arthur Currie states emphatically, “and industry will reap the reward by employing the graduates of Canada’s universities. There is no doubt about that.
What we need is a general realization of the fact.-’
"There are no finer young men in God's creation than the men being turned out to citizenship by Canadian universities,” President Cody declares. "Mentally, they are keen. Physically, they are in splendid condition, without the moral handicap of disease, and there is about them a stability particularly pronounced in contrast to those of other countries. They must submit to health examinations, and this has revealed a wonderful degree of health and moral cleanliness.
“They have a great background, and are equipped with a great determination to work and to succeed. They are keen on what they go in for. That is the kind of material we have, and it’s the kind we want to use in Canada; the kind that has been snapped up by American business and financial institutions in the past.”
It is not so many years ago that United States corporations were taking Canada’s I educated youth. The cry went up that I Canada was being drained of its lifeblood because of the more lucrative positions open and the greater opportunities offered south of the border. To a great extent, that was
true. But it is also a fact that Canadians themselves did not sufficiently appreciate the value that was the nation’s own capable youth.
When conditions change and graduates again find themselves in the happy position of being able to find jobs and of doing a little picking and choosing, will we again witness a flight of our highly trained men to the United States? Not if Canadian business executives realize the value of Canada’s youth and appreciate the fact that the young men of today will be the key men of tomorrow. Canadian business will gain by recruiting these young men now.
That is the answer of university leaders who are facing today’s situation in the light of its developments twenty years hence. They will tell you that Canada’s greatest loss in pre-depression years was that of her intellectual youth to the United States. They are emphatic in declaring that we must look to the future in considering the immediate situation, and they unite in this appeal to all employers in behalf of the youth of this Dominion who are leaving the Mis of learning intellectually equipped after years of mental discipline, many of them confident and all of them hopeful.