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“Follow your Passion” Career optimism leaving youth unprepared

TORONTO, November 10, 2015 - Parents want their children to be optimistic and confident, especially when it comes to following their career aspirations. And parents can breathe a sigh of relief, as the number one thing youth are excited about is having a career. In fact, they are bursting with excitement -- with 96 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 14-25 saying it’s important for them to be able to do what they love most when it comes to a career, this according to the 2nd Youth Optimism Study conducted by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs for RBC.

However, when faced with the realities of landing a job, that career optimism drops dramatically with fewer than two-thirds of respondents aged 22-25 (61 per cent of males and 64 per cent of females) thinking they will get a job in the field they want to work in. This was also evident in the 2015 RBC Student Finances Poll where 55 per cent of students aged 17-24 say that after graduation they will likely have to compromise their values and take a job that pays the bills instead of being fulfilled.

“Young adults are at a crossroads. We’re seeing a generation brimming with education, idealism and confidence – but the challenges they face in establishing their careers are leaving many feeling lost and demoralized,” said Lauren Friese, founder TalentEgg, an online resource hub for youth in career development. “It can be tough, but youth need to understand that they are the CEO of their own career. The good news is that parents and others in the community can play a significant role in helping kids prepare for the journey.”

Despite this worry, when asked what excites them about their future, 81 per cent of youth say they’re excited about establishing their career, putting careers in the top spot next to finishing education and being financially independent (both 74 per cent respectively). Ranking last was becoming parents themselves, with just 44 per cent of youth very or somewhat excited about having children.

“At RBC, we want kids and youth to be optimistic about their future and want to help as they walk the path from education to employment,” said Susan Uchida, vice-president, Learning, RBC. “I know as a parent, I encourage my two teenage daughters to take charge of their future careers, including helping them figure out what they like and also important, what they don't like, while also offering practical advice to get them as close as possible to the career they want and the life they want to live.”

Parents underestimate how much their kids worry
While finances and getting a job are the two top worries of youth today (67 per cent and 61 per cent respectively), many parents underestimate just how much their kids worry: 58 per cent think their child worries about money and finances and 54 per cent of parents think their child worries about getting or having a job.

“Beyond dinner table conversations and guidance counsellor meetings, we need to think about how we can empower young adults to take charge of their future now,” says Friese.

She notes three career planning phases in which every parent can help: Discovering what they want to do; exploringthe environments in which they want to work; and building a plan to get a job – from networking, to resume building.

“We can help young people to carry the optimism of youth into adulthood by equipping them with the tools they’ll need to thrive and be resilient in a changing world,” said Friese.

Lauren offers some tips for parents to help their idealistic young adults match their passion with the practicalities of the job market:

  • Workplace Exposure – starting the earlier the better, the more frequent the better to avoid getting caught in the “no job, no experience” cycle.
  • Build a Framework – Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, your likes and dislikes, have a solid sense of financial literacy: know the value of a dollar, understand interest rates, investments etc. = understanding the bottom line of a business and how you fit in.
  • Job Hunting outside the lines – Encouraging them to explore all the opportunities available that leverage their specific set of skills and interests: they might like elements of being a teacher, but don’t want to work in a classroom… encourage them to look for other options.
  • Career prep 101 – what you don’t learn in school – resume writing, interview prep etc.
  • Community Support: The good things in life aren’t free. To land that dream job, you need to work for it and research and understand how to get it. Leverage the resources out there that both parents and youth can lean on to help build their knowledge and improve a child’s exposure to the working world.

Additional Survey Findings

  • 93 per cent of 14 to 25-year-olds say having a fulfilling job is important
  • 93 per cent of ages 14 to 25 say having financial security is important
  • However, only 67 per cent of females and 66 per cent of males ages 22 to 25 agree they are confident that they have the knowledge and skills to find the jobs they want

About the RBC Kids Optimism Survey
This is the second wave of research to gauge the opinions on current and future levels of optimism among Canadian Youth. This is the first time parents of youth aged 14-25 were also surveyed.

The RBC Kids Optimism Survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid from June 17 to July 6, 2015. For the survey, a sample of 1,262 youth and young adults aged 10 to 25 was surveyed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel. For the parent survey, a national sample of 1,605 parents of children aged 14 to 25 was surveyed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel.

The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the aggregate results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, and the overall sample of parents is accurate to within ±2.8 percentage points. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About the RBC Kids Pledge
The RBC Kids Pledge is a $100 million commitment over five years to help one million kids and youth across Canada. These funds will go towards a range of programs supporting the well-being of kids and youth.

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We employ approximately 79,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 38 other countries. For more information, please visit

RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2014, we contributed more than $111 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $76 million and $35 million in sponsorships.

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For more information, please contact:
Jason Graham, RBC, 416-313-5783