Despite the downturn in the economy, it looks as though the number of student jobs available this summer will be on par with those of previous years, say a number of agencies helping students and employers connect.
“I haven’t seen a change in any of the summer employers that are looking to hire for the summer,” said Michelle Ruston, Job Connect program leader at Lutherwood Youth Employment Centre in Kitchener. Lutherwood is a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Service Canada that offers youth employment services in Waterloo Region and Guelph.
“It’s same as usual here: we’re getting requests from some new employers and from some employers who have accessed the services before in the past,” she explained. “I don’t really see anything changing as far as summer employment goes.”
In 2006, locally, some 630 vacancies were posted on Service Canada’s job bank website, helping more than 780 students in their job hunt; the following year 799 students were hired by some 145 employers. This summer, those figures are expected to remain the same.
The trend appears to extend into the Woolwich area, where agencies such as Woolwich Community Services continue to apply for funding through federal programs like Canada Summer Jobs.
“We have applied for our three students to be approved through the government funding for the summer; however, we won’t hear back from them for quite a while,” said Kelly Christie, community resource coordinator at WCS. Applications for subsidies for the creation of student jobs are typically approved or rejected by May.
Every summer, WCS applies for funding through Canada Summer Jobs, as it looks to create positions that would otherwise go unfilled. In the past, the local agency has applied for funding for three positions though often only two were approved.
“We do apply for three because the need’s there.”
The positions – which, this year, include an event planner, a youth centre support staff member, and an office support member – not only provide the summer students with valuable experiences, they also help the employers expand their services, said Christie. Whether helping glean funds by organizing fundraisers, helping the agency expand and address extra projects, or covering for full time employers so that they can take holidays, those summer workers often play an important role for the overall operation.
“If we didn’t have the students those extra things wouldn’t happen.”
WCS is just one of many employers across the country applying for funding through the federal program, which offers subsidies to non-profit, public-sector and small private-sector employers to create high-quality summer jobs for young people from 15 to 30 years of age. Larger private-sector employers with more than 50 employees are not eligible for funding.
Organizations that focus on providing services in their local communities to children and youth, to seniors, that are related to public health or related to cultural development or historical preservation applied by last week’s deadline.
In 2008, the Government of Canada concluded agreements with more than 20,000 organizations to support the creation of about 36,000 summer jobs for students, said Julie Hahn, media relations officer for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in an e-mail correspondence, noting that expectations for this summer are on par with last year’s figures.
That said, she also noted that this year the federal government will be paying close attention to the needs of employers and students.
“In light of the current economy, now more than ever before, we need to help employers support students and community needs,” she noted, adding that through its economic action plan, the federal government will provide $20 million in funding over two years for Canada Summer Jobs. Over the next few weeks, the federal government will decide how to allocate the new funding.
While locally the job market for students appears to be healthy, Ruston advises students to get an early start hunting for work, as a general trend over the last few years has seen more and more students starting to search sooner as they try to balance part-time studies with part-time work in the summer months.
“I would encourage, for sure, anyone to come in and start looking for a summer job right now.”