Saturday, 16 March 2013

Generation Jobless?

   We're living in interesting times, and I have garnished several titles, Gen Y and Gen jobless being the most used. With the 18-26 age group suffering from double unemployment rates compared to other demographics at times it appears joblessness has become a generational issue. Chronic unemployment is a problem found for many skilled workers here in Canada, and for those unwilling to travel across the country for potential work the prospect of unemployment is even wider. Some of my colleagues (and those who are no longer my colleagues) have shown some degree or other of worry for finding employment, which brings up some important questions: is unemployment presumed before research? How hard are today's youth searching, and how many jobs are slipping through their fingers because of the wrong jobs being given to under/over qualified professionals?
    There are expert opinions on why this generation is faced with difficulty on the job market, baby boomers not retiring, jobs being created in BRIC nations and leaving Canada, aging government systems and policies that are too inflexible to make relevant enough policy adaptions. But I think there are more micro-solutions available to solve the issue of youth unemployment. The first is a recommendation made by Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) on CBC television. Mr. O'Leary suggested that government subsidization of post-secondary education should be limited to those programs that have the ability to contribute back into the economy. It is not a bash against the arts, but those classes that have a low employment turn around rate: psychology, history, philosophy, literature...If those students had to pay full, unsubsidized tuition fees I am safe to assume they would take a more practical career path...electrical engineering anyone?

    There, of course is another more worrisome trend that I've found since I've been here at school, and anyone reading this studying in post-secondary is most likely one of those I'm talking about: those of you who have chosen a program, are either beginning or ending it, and have never even bothered to think about what you will do for work. This is by far the largest percentage of people I have met, and there is no excuse for it. Just like parents don't exist to be safety nets, jobs don't exist to be handed out without any resistance. It takes time to build a professional network, see where you need specialize, and see who is hiring not today, but in 1,2,10 years when you're going to be on the market. To all those students in development who haven't researched their field I have some good links for potential work, and if you can't be bothered to check job sites, you can't be bothered to work. So lets try to end this jobless curse, work hard like our parents have, get jobs, and continue to make Canada and the world better places.

Bartlett, S. (Director), & LeRose, M. (Director) (2012). Generation Jobless. Available from Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Applicable Learning Experience

     University is often criticized for being too based on theory without any practical skill sets being developed. I often feel that this is true and we need to remember as future development practitioners that we will need tenable experience to be used by NGO's, governments, firms, or even as entrepreneurs. I've recently written a paper detailing the aspects of a development project that has recently been completed, analyzing how it has used development tools, LogFrames, economic and statistical models, built educational institutes, and fostered the growth of civil society. It is a combined African Development Fund / African Development Bank project, took the environment, citizens, and vulnerable peoples into consideration and appears to have achieved its goal of alleviating poverty (46%-40%). The project, is a 200km road in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. After studying the facets of the project in detail I've become more aware of what I can and cannot do, and feel all the wiser because of it.

     Before we consider the flaws of the many large regional institutions, we need to realize what skills we have to bring to the table. Do we want to fly across the world to 'help' dig boreholes or build schools we aren't trained to build; or do we want to contribute to projects that have concrete results in lower poverty rates? I'm not suggesting we all lace up our dress shoes and apply at regional banks to act as a consultants, but I do believe we must work where our skills can be used best, and where we can learn from experienced practitioners. I personally know where I will be able to apply my skills best and how I want an organization to train me; it is something that has been gained through experience and everyone will be at that stage eventually. While we don't have professional development classes, we have tools at our fingertips to provide us with information about what it is really like in the development world. Speak to your development professors who have years of experience and can tell you about their successes and mistakes: this is where the real strength of our program lays.

    We all cannot build roads by ourselves, nor can we build schools or provide advanced agricultural assistance, but we can learn from those around us and in a (hopefully) short period of time will be able to understand the many aspects of a project or program. Where are your strengths? if you don't know yet, don't be worried; it'll come to you. How do you want to be used? I suggest just make sure you get used in such a way that you gain maximum benefit.


African Development Fund, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport through the Public
Works Department (DTP). (2009). Project Completion Report (PCR)

Bendjebbour, A. World Bank. Africa Development Fund. Mauritania Trans Maghreb
road project: Akjoujt-Atar
: 2000. Print.

Traore, B., Leke, M., Joottun, L., & Nzau-Mutetea, G. K. Infrastructure Department,
Central and West Regions. (2003). Appraisal report: Rosso boghe road
construction project
. Islamic Republic of Mauritania: African Development Fund.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


In light of tomorrow's class that will give details of what fundraising plans will be developed for the upcoming summer and spring prior to your placements, I would like to suggest an idea that I've been developing over the past couple of weeks. The success of last year's Global Gala ( had me thinking, how could this event be made even more successful?

       After volunteering with CIGI (Centre for International Governance Innovation), a think tank based in uptown Waterloo I found out about the excellent facilities they have. These include a lecture hall/ theater, courtyard, and ultra-modern campus at the CIGI Campus, a separate entity of the think tank itself. I believe that with the wealth of knowledge and amount of experts in the area INDEVOURS could host lectures or panel discussions with local development experts prior or after the Global Gala, to provide an informative and lively discussion to help our families, friends, and the general public understand the importance of our placements. If we decide to choose an off-campus location arguable the nicest theatre in the city is only 5 minutes away, The CIGI Campus Auditorium. The campus' website describes the theatre as
  "a high-end venue in the heart of Waterloo available to non-profit organizations, community groups and businesses for meetings and events."                               (
 The CIGI Campus Auditorium

      By holding an informative discussion panel we will both raise awareness of development issues, of INDEVOURS, and as a bonus, I believe we also will have the ability to raise additional funds. If the space could be used for free or at a low cost, we could make donations voluntary or at a low amount, and be sure to sell tickets to the Global Gala or any other events we decide upon. As for the location, I feel we could even hold smaller more intimate discussions at cafes around the city willing to lend us their space for an evening (they would gain promotion and people will spend while there). Some suggestions could be at the Yeti Cafe, a personal acquaintance of mine who owns it already said she would seriously consider it ( Let me know what you think, is this tangible? Too far away from what we want to do? Too complex to plan?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Course Satisfaction Surveys

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I received an email asking my opinion on the indev program. It won't be perfect science, but I assume that most students either disregard the surveys or give all good reviews to be nice. If this is the case, those students are committing a great injustice to themselves and their peers.
This young program requires all of us students to act as monitors, and implement what we know is best academic practice; and correct what is not. When answering them we must be sure to not let our feelings interfere, it surely would only take away credibility and integrity. A strong set of impartial reviews will only better the program, and better future cohorts' learning experience, to ensure they get the best possible education for the immense amounts of money spent to get a continually undervalued degree thanks to university profit lines constantly getting tighter.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Quote of the day

"Lying can get you a wife, but it won't let you keep her"

Proverb from Cameroon

Continuity in the role of the INDEVOUR's

A class I am currently enrolled in, INDEV 303: Theory and Practice of Marketing and Communication for Development, is both an introduction to marketing practices and an introduction to INDEVOURS.

       INDEVOURS (see page for full organization description) by its very nature is an annual affair, with students raising funds over the summer to support their upcoming international development placement in the fall. This is where I come in. As a second year student in a third year class, I won't be participating in fundraising directly during the summer, nor will I be going anywhere other than to and from the UW campus and my apartment in Kitchener in the fall of 2013. At first, I assumed this was a massive disadvantage, then realized the advantage to INDEVOURS my unique situation could provide.

      Having experience fundraising in the past (MSF, Public Outreach, United Way Renfrew Country), I have seen the difficulties presented with garnering continuous funding - and those difficulties were present with well-known organizations, let alone a small group of university students in a city already flooded with university organizations looking for support. Part of this difficulty may arise from a lack of continuity: only 16 weeks see massive promotion, and if donors aren't thinking of INDEVOURS, they won't be donating to INDEVOURS. Some fundraising events may take longer than 16 weeks to plan and advertise, and perhaps because I will be familiar with what some of the 2014 cohorts' goals are, I can pass the information and planning tools onto my own cohort of 2015. I say we start brainstorming for the long-term, plan a year ahead, and workout a system to bridge the gap that exists between cohorts.