Did you know that you can make between $8,000 and $13,000 as a bartender or server during the summer in Muskoka? I talked to some friends who are working as servers and bartenders in variety of Muskoka establishments, and they all agreed that if you really commit yourself you will get a very high return. It is very difficult to find a job where you are making that much money, other than in construction. I was chatting with one of my favorite local bartenders and when the subject of school and travel came up it was so interesting to hear that she had done a double major, and had travelled all over Europe and South Asia during the past few years. When I asked her why she came back to Muskoka and what she was going to do next, she replied, “I’m not really sure. Right now I’m just making money to travel and pay off my student loan. I just love it here! The lifestyle is so different, I love the outdoors, and I really can’t see myself anywhere else.” This statement is very telling.
Having grown up in Muskoka, I constantly run into people I went to school with and during the initial “How are you?” the subject of school almost always comes up. “I’m done, just back here to figure out what I want to do now”, “I think I might have to go back and do a college degree or something. There aren’t that many jobs up here in my field”, “I can’t find something I really want to do up here, so I’m serving. The money’s decent.”
Don’t get me wrong, serving and bartending are completely acceptable careers, and absolutely vital in Muskoka. It is disappointing, though, if you go away to school, get your degree, come back because this is where you want to settle down and instead of being able to find a job in whatever you studied, you settle for a summer job that will make you money, not a full-time career. This is a problem. We go away to school so that we gain a better education, learn the tools we need in order to get a well-paying job, and to experience life away from home. When we come back to find that great job here, there isn’t one for us. You have raised us in this amazing haven, and regardless of how much we wanted out after high school, you still made us fall in love and we’re back. What are we going to do now?
I was talking to a fellow intern the other day and he said, “Finding a nice girl in this town is hard because they all leave after high school. The guys come back and work construction, but the girls move on and go to the city to find a career.” This may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but when the baby boomers are retired and it is up to us to keep Muskoka’s population sustained, how will that happen without young people attracted by well-paying jobs?
This is where the creative economy comes in. Ask yourself – do the young people in your community represent wasted resources? Muskoka needs to start investing in new economy jobs that require next generation education, skills, and ideas – that is what we can offer. Now that’s sustainability!