Statistics Canada released new data this summer revealing unemployment rates of Canadian students have increased since last summer. This comes as no surprise—students have been struggling for summer work since the recession hit.
“Student jobs and summer jobs are the easiest place for an employer to cut when budgets are being tightened,” Jennifer Caron, a career counsellor at The Student Success Centre, said.
Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey found the average unemployment rate between May and August for students between the ages of 15 and 24 was 17.2 per cent, slightly above the 2010 rate of 16.9 per cent.
The government will spend almost $100 million to help over 100,000 students access jobs and services this year, according to Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Despite the Canadian government’s incentives for employers to hire students through wage subsidies, students still struggled this summer.
“I think that’s a really good incentive,” Caron said. “Unemployment is really high right now and students are the hardest hit out of any other group in the country.”
The country-wide increase of student unemployment rates are substantial compared to the summers of 2006 and 2008, when rates were below 14 per cent.
“[Employers] have students for three or four months of training, so that equates to lots of money and then paying wages […] at the same time. If a student is very picky for their choice of summer employment they may find it a bit more challenging to find opportunities that suit them,” Caron stated.
Although the country has seen an increase in summer unemployment, London’s employment numbers have risen, according to a Statistics Canada report stating London’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 per cent last month.
Doug Millar, manager of career, co-op and community employment services at Fanshawe College, warned against this data.
“Given that the local labor market has been slack at best, I would suggest that the statistics Canada figure reflects more a statistical anomaly than actual fact,” he explained.
Millar said the typical summer employment opportunities are still there in London—there has always been strength in health sciences and retail as far as the regional market place, and that there has been some growth in construction.
While job opportunities were still present, students won’t be handed opportunities without serious effort.
“I think the biggest tip for students is to really get out there and network and develop your contact base,” Caron said.
The average number of hours worked at all jobs during this summer by students between the ages of 15 to 24 was 24 hours per week, which is among the lowest since data was first collected in 1977.
“Bottom line—it is not different if you were taking any sort of test, this one just happens to be the biggest one you are going to take and that is the test of what you are going to do when you grow up,” Millar said. “You have to prepare for it, you have to work hard toward it, and you have to be diligent and carry on.”