Summer job opportunities on the rise after recession
As summer quickly approaches, students across the country prepare to hit the workforce, either to save up for another year of their education or start their careers. Despite the resources in place to improve this period of uncertainty for Canada’s youth, the relevant experience and income provided by summer jobs is questionable.
“It’s unfortunate it’s become such a challenge for a lot of students to find a summer job,” said Zach Dayler, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, advising, “But start as early as possible.”
Past woes, more initiatives
In 2009, Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 experienced an unemployment rate of 21 per cent. As a result of this trend, both the federal and provincial governments responded in providing greater support and funding.
Discussing the Canada Summer Jobs program, Kitchener Centre Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth said, “Every year the government provides money evenly distributed across Canada to every riding to enable employers to take advantage of the funding and hire students.”
Using the example of his riding, Woodworth noted that the $242,000 that is being designated for the area would contribute to 83 student jobs. “We have a heavy emphasis on non-for-profit and community service organizations but there are others as well,” he added.
Although these initiatives can improve the market for students, Lauren Friese, the founder of TalentEgg.ca, a job site and career resource for students and recent graduates, pointed out an obvious issue. “In general when you have literally a million students trying to find four-month jobs, you’re always going to have some form of unemployment or temporary unemployment.”
Looking ahead to this summer Friese believes that job prospects are looking much better than they were in 2009, however she noted that the larger problem lies with the type of work students, and more importantly recent graduates, are finding.
From the government’s perspective on the issue of students working in jobs they are overqualified for, Woodworth stated, “The government has limited means to direct what people study.” The negative result, he furthered, is that as the job market shifts, “hot” fields may decline by the time a student graduates, leaving them searching for new options.
Yet, according to Friese, that represents a great number of recent graduates. In citing the government’s projection to have 75 per cent of Canadian youth obtaining post-secondary designations, she expressed that in her experience at TalentEgg she finds that only 10 per cent of those students are being hired in relevant positions.
“We pride ourselves of having weathered the economic storm pretty well and generally are a developed country and yet we have the highest rate of youth underemployment,” said Friese in regards to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighting that 23.7 per cent of Canadians under the age of 25 feel overqualified for their job.
Friese further explained that this results in emotional and financial damages for young people as well as limits the potential of the economy by not harnessing their skills.
“In terms of how it’s being addressed by employers, I don’t think it’s being addressed by employers or the government,” she said.
While TalentEgg has started to provide a platform for students to discuss their frustrations with the transition from school to the workforce on the site’s page “Student Voice,” the discussion doesn’t appear to be spreading.
Dayler, commenting on the looming federal election, conveyed his frustration as a spring election distracts the processes of students finding employment and has difficulty engaging students as they move from school to summer work.
Although an election provides those complications, he also added, “[CASA] will still be focusing on – if students aren’t getting jobs – making the government aware that students are getting jobs.
“We have to make all parties that are running an election aware that students aren’t getting jobs, that in fact in a lot of cases are being forgotten about in terms a lot of the investments that are being talked about.”
For the time being, Friese offered some last advice to students struggling to land a job, “Use all the resources available to you to prepare properly on your job search.”