Summer jobs difficult to find for students

By Ashad Mukadam

Although more summer jobs are available this year compared to last, students will still have a difficult time finding work.

Both the on-campus Career Services and the Calgary Youth Employment Centre have seen some recovery in their job postings, but are not reaching the same numbers they used to. The types of jobs posted are also different.

“The jobs are picking up slowly this year,” said Martina Payette, Career Services director. “A lot of the jobs we are getting are in the not-for-profit sector.”

“We have seen an increase in the numbers for jobs and employers and it is encouraging,” said Lisa Duke, community relations liaison for the Youth Employment Centre. “However, it is still a recovery period. What we are seeing is that most of the summer jobs available are in the trades, the recreation field (such as day camps) and a lot of seasonal positions.”

There is also a lack of full-time, well-paid summer jobs available for students. Career Services, for instance, noticed that most jobs are part-time. However, Payette thinks there will be more full-time jobs available to summer students.

“It should pick up because some of those employers have received STEP [Summer Temporary Employment Program] funding from the government,” she said.

The slow recovery for summer jobs is due to a number of reasons, said Jack Mintz, Palmer Chair in Public Policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

“The labour market tends to lag behind a recovery, as it is an investment that companies make,” he said. “The credit markets are still weak as there is also nervousness about the [United States], as it is our major export market and the U.S. has had a poor recovery. Alberta also has a unique situation in that natural gas prices are low, so it will be a longer recovery here.”

Due to these factors, students may have to find other means to pay their tuition and fees in 2010-2011, including taking out Employment Insurance benefits if qualified and applying for student loans. For those willing to move out of the province for the summer, jobs are picking up in Ontario’s manufacturing sector, while Manitoba’s job market has remained stable through the recession.

“There will be good demand [for loans] this year, as there are still high numbers of students going back to upgrade,” said Mintz.

The biggest challenge will be for students who choose to major in a field that is not in demand. For students who are struggling, Mintz does offer some advice.

“I feel that students should be banging on doors, and being aggressive is most effective right now,” he said. “It’s good to ask because you never know what might happen.”

Both Duke and Payette agree that students need to take extra measures in this competitive environment.

“It will be harder to find a job this year, as it is more competitive,” said Duke. “Therefore, it is important to get a targeted resume and networking is very important.”

“Students should make sure that they make use of all the services available on campus, especially Career Services,” said Payette. “[We] are here to give them the tools needed to land a job.”

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