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Failure to Launch: A Troubled Transition to Grown-up Life

Occupy Toronto

Young demonstrators participate in Occupy Toronto protests, Oct. 15, 2011. In recent years, accumulating debt, delayed careers, lagging incomes and zero savings have crushed the 18 to 24 set. Photo: arindambanerjee /

From an outsider looking in, the path from adolescence to adulthood seems obvious. Yet by age 25, many B.C. youth are still floundering, without a high school diploma, without any completed postsecondary, and without a job that will support themselves, let alone a family.

For back-to-school month, The Tyee Solutions Society's Pieta Woolley looks at why the "launch" from adolescence to financially-independent adult is proving so hard for so many -- not just the most vulnerable -- and some ideas about how to help. Will it take a mandatory national service program? A renewed resource economy? Transformation of public education?

This series was produced by Tyee Solutions Society in collaboration with Tides Canada Initiatives (TCI), with funding from the Vancouver Foundation. TCI and the Vancouver Foundation neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS' reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this story or other Tyee Solutions Society-produced articles, please see this website for contacts and information.

In This Series



When Family Fails, Schools Can Do More to Care for Youth

Four ways to help at-risk students thrive in the classroom. Third in a series.

By Pieta Woolley, 11 Sep 2013



Lost: Low-skill, Decent-pay, 'Entry' Jobs

Seven sectors that once put youth to work have withered, making it tough for today's cohort to lift-off. Second in a series.

By Pieta Woolley, 10 Sep 2013



Can Public Service Kickstart Canada's Young and Jobless?

First in a new series on solutions for a nation's generational failure-to-launch.

By Pieta Woolley, 9 Sep 2013


Karen Foster

Why Efforts to 'Fix' Floundering Youth Fail

Assumptions about unemployment and street involvement can undermine our attempts to help. Fourth in a series.

By Pieta Woolley, 12 Sep 2013


Fast food worker

McJobs, a Launch Pad for Young Workers

Employees of a BC burger joint share hopes, fears and life lessons. Last in a series.

By Pieta Woolley, 13 Sep 2013