Summer of unemployment

“I was out of a job then for over a
month,” said Sven Nyman, a second-year
arts student at Wilfrid Laurier
University.

Nyman is one of many students who
has felt the repercussions of the recession
on the student job market this
summer.

Student jobs scarce

Statistics Canada reported a 21 per cent
student unemployment rate, the highest
it’s been since the 1970s.

The majority of students rely on
summer employment to offset financial
burdens they incur while at university
from September to April.
With the national job loss count at
414,000 since October, this summer
many students have been unable to secure
work.

“I’ve barely been getting 10 to 15
hours, sometimes just eight hours a
week,” explained Nyman, whose parttime
summer employment is failing to
meet his current financial needs.

“You need full-time [work] to save
up enough money, because [Ontario
Student Assistance Program] OSAP
just isn’t enough,” said Nyman.

Following a summer of unemployment
Nyman, and thousands of others,
are now left searching for alternative
solutions – such as taking out private
loans and keeping jobs throughout the
school year – to fund their education.

Co-op students struggle to find placements

Karen Lazenby co-op coordinator
at Laurier said that there has been a
decline in the employment rate for
students who were looking to complete
a summer work term.

“In 2007 co-op rate was 98.6 per
cent, last year it was 97.9 per cent
and this year it is 96 per cent,” said
Lazenby.

Though an increased number of coops
were unable to find placements,
Lazenby noted that these students will
still be able to stay in the program.
“Students who participated fully in
the job application and interview process
but were not successful in obtaining
a work term are eligible to continue
in co-op.”

However, to graduate with co-op the
standard requirements must still be
met, meaning that students “will complete
their third work term before they
graduate but will not be charged an additional
co-op fee,” explained Lazenby.

With the student unemployment
rate at its highest in 30 years, many feel
that this is an issue that needs to be addressed
immediately.

WLU offers students support in budgeting

Kory Preston, vice-president of university
affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier University
Students’ Union, noted that the
union has created a financial resource
committee in response to students’ financial
difficulties this year.

The committee’s main objective will
be to assist students in creating financial
budget plans.

“The idea behind the financial resource
committee is really to provide
what we saw as a service that wasn’t
being provided at the time,” said
Preston.

“[Students] will be able to sit down
with a committee member and the committee member will be able to
provide budget templates and really
just work with that student,” explained
Preston.

A recent poll released by Ipsos Reid
on behalf of Royal Bank of Canada
(RBC) found that 43 per cent of new
post-secondary students and 35 per
cent of returning students believe that
their spending money will only sustain
them until the Christmas break.

Half of students expect to run out of money before end of school year

The poll also found that 50 per cent of
all students surveyed expect to run out
of money before the end of the 2009-
10 school year.

Such statistics highlight the urgency
for addressing options to aid students
with the financial burden of school.

The office of university affairs at
WLUSU works hand in hand with the
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
(CASA). CASA is a national
advocacy group that works with provincial
and federal lobby organizations,
which Preston explains “make
sure our elected officials’ agenda is
on the current financial situation of
students.”

Yet despite the efforts that CASA
is making to address student debt,
those who did not find adequate summer
employment, like Nyman are still
struggling.

“It’s not enough,” said Nyman after
receiving his OSAP estimate for the
2009-2010 school year.

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