Cheeky BC government ads for skilled workers slammed by hipsters, students

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Daily Brew

The British Columbia government's recent attempt at encouraging its young people to seek employment in the trades is failing to inspire.

"Hipster is not a real job," one ad jabs, suggesting that hipster culture is responsible for a younger generation's lack of interest in work, specifically industrial jobs.

"Oh sure, you'll definitely win the lottery," another ad muses sarcastically.

"Because marrying rich may not pan out," reads another.

The ads appear on buses throughout Vancouver and direct people to

B.C.'s labour shortage "is no secret — in fact, it's on the verge of getting worse," reports.

"The B.C. government projected that among a million job openings expected by 2020, 43 per cent will require skilled workers. Meanwhile, another study by Skills Canada revealed that only about a quarter of young people were considering a career path in trades."

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CTV British Columbia reports:

"The federal ship-building contract, new mines and natural gas plants will provide thousands of new jobs in B.C., but the province says there may not be enough workers to fill them. Two hundred Chinese nationals were reportedly hired to fill mining jobs in B.C. recently."

But while the push for young people to consider the trades makes sense, the anti-hipster campaign doesn't.

The $604,000 campaign launched at the beginning of the school year — and immediately encountered students' backlash who refused to accept the association between unemployment and personal style.

"I'm quite confused by it. Obviously she [Premier Christy Clark] doesn't have the groundwork…[to] get out there, talk to students directly, find out where they're at and make that a part of the investigative work of policy development," Gwen O'Mahony, the NDP's skills training critic tells the Vancouver Island University's Navigator.

"Clearly this shows that she really hasn't had a lot of time speaking with students. If she [had] even gone to one institution and asked them what they thought of the slogan, I'm sure that the students would have set her straight."

She adds, "You should never underestimate who you're speaking to; people don't like to be talked down to. I think just telling people this is how much you'll get paid if you had a trade or education and this is what you'll get paid if you don't is enough."

John Yap, the newly appointed minister for advanced education, says that his greatest priority "is to ensure we have the facilities and programs to do trades training" and to offer "British Columbians the opportunity to fill those positions and encourage those that are in school and thinking about career options that they consider, if it's right for them, a career that is well-paying and rewarding, in the trades."

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University of Victoria Students' Society chair Emily Rose agrees that the ads failed to adequately address the fact that young people are faced with chronic unemployment in the province.

"There's no bachelor of hipsterdom offered and people understand hipster is a style of dress so it just doesn't make sense to associate being a hipster with real jobs. They've really lost the message," she tells the Toronto Star.

Are skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses really to blame for the lack of interest in the trades? Plaid shirts and scruffy beards are both hipster- and tradesmen-friendly, after all.