While high school and university students are busy studying to finish up the school year in a couple months, there’s one more thing that should be at the top of their agenda: summer jobs.
Ontario’s Summer Jobs Programs help more than 100,000 students annually with job hunting, resume writing, and applying for funding to create their own summer businesses.
Belinda Bien from the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities says the programs have continued for more than 10 years because they know how important it is to help young people develop skills and valuable work experience.
“A summer job is often a young person’s first experience in a workplace so we want to help them find and have the opportunity to gain some valuable skills and experience,” Bien said.
The programs were created in 2004. All students aged 15 to 30 who are returning to school in the fall are eligible to access the programs.
It might seem early, since it sure doesn’t feel like summer, but March is when many employers start hiring for summer positions and it never hurts to apply early.
“Students often finish up the semester sometime in April to May as well,” Bien said. “We do have summer jobs to place them that early. It takes some time to get the word out there, but we want to make sure that we’re able to accept as many applications as possible and place as many youth as we can.”
Since its origin, more than a million students have used the programs. Last year, nearly $78.5 million was spent programs to help 117,217 students.
The government is now offering employers a $2-per-hour hiring incentive to hire summer students, which can be applied for up to 16 weeks. Rural employers interested in hiring summer students can apply for the hiring incentive through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Providing Ontario’s young people with access to a wide variety of summer work opportunities helps them build valuable experience while saving for their future education. By supporting Ontario’s Summer Jobs programs, our government is helping students test their skills and discover their passion, which is a vital investment in the future of our province,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The Summer Jobs Programs are also part of the Ontario government’s attempt to help youth find jobs in the province. Through the Youth Jobs Strategy, $295 million is being invested over two years to help 30,000 people from 15 to 29 develop job skills and get gainful employment.
“We also have something called summer company which is a really great opportunity for students who are looking to learn something about starting their own business,” Bien said.
Students are provided with awards up to $3,000 to start and run their own summer business, for example, a cafe. They also receive hands on business training and mentoring.
“It helps them to develop skills like sales, marketing, invoicing, bookkeeping and time management and customer relations,” Bien said.
Another unique initiative is the Aboriginal youth work exchange program. It’s an eight-week summer job which works with natural resource projects. Aboriginal students have three years of eligibility. After that their focus is on job readiness and personal development.
Students who enjoy spending the summer outdoors might be interested in the stewardship youth ranger program. If accepted you spend eight weeks working on local natural resource management programs. Students turning 17 can apply.
Bien notes the number of applicants for each program grows annually as the word gets out to more youth.
“There’s such a variety, it could be anything from working at a local business to something that’s a little more pointed, like working with the Ontario Public Service,” Bien said. “There are lots of opportunities there.”