Post-secondary students worried about another jobless summer

CALGARY — There’s an added stress for post-secondary students wrapping up final exams for the semester, finding a summer job with student loans adding up and tuition on the rise.

“The search has been really tough for the past month,” said Justin Gotta, who just completed his third year at the University of Calgary.

The economics major is hoping to secure a co-op position this summer, which he needs in order to graduate. But Gotta said there aren’t many opportunities available.

“It’s really important for me so I have the necessary work experience to enter the workforce when I graduate. It puts me at an advantage over my peers and allows me to compete with people who’ve already been in the workforce for a number of years,” he said.

Gotta received a callback Tuesday for a possible interview next week. He lost both his part time positions, as an usher at the Scotiabank Saddledome and minor hockey referee last year.

He’s not the only one struggling to find a job.

“I was unemployed all of last summer after I finished my undergrad and this summer it’s been equally difficult but most of the jobs I have found are not really related to architecture,” said masters student Jassie Kehal.

“My program is so rigorous that it’s hard to find work throughout the year so summer internships is kind of what we rely on,” said Kehal.

TUITION RISING

As of May 1, 2021 tuition is increasing for most undergraduate programs at the University of Calgary by seven per cent for domestic students. Some programs will see a 10 per cent increase.

The University of Calgary Students’ Union said it’s worried this year will be similar to last when many students couldn’t find work or their opportunities were cancelled last minute because of the pandemic.

The Students’ Union wants the province to bring back the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) which was cancelled by the UCP government in 2019. It offered a wage subsidy to employers.

Gotta, is also the students’ union representative for the Faculty of Arts said a student-specific program is needed.

“It would be really beneficial for students right now so employers have an incentive to hire a student position, give us the proper work experience that we need to enter the work force,” said Gotta.

One Calgary MP is trying to ease the burden, securing $2.8 million in funding from the federal government for jobs as part of the Canada Summer Jobs program.

“I’ve heard from my constituents that they’re really worried about their kids coming out of school and universities and not being able to find jobs,” said Jag Sahota, member of parliament for Calgary Skyview.

The money will go to small businesses and non-profit groups who will then be able to hire students. Applicants for this year have been chosen. Sahota said hundreds of applicants will benefit.

“We always say that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and this is a win and win situation for everybody. The students, the young population gets the life experience, work experience and build long-term relationships and then small businesses get the support that they need, financial support,” she said.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Wednesday, the federal government announced more than 150,000 summer job opportunities across Canada are posted through an online job bank. jobbank.gc.ca/youth

Jobs are available in a variety of fields including non-profit work, food industries, landscaping and marketing for anyone between the ages of 15 and 30.

Employers will be given subsidies for wages.

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