Students walk to school at the Durham College campus and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ont., on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Students walk to school at the Durham College campus and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ont., on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Despite economic reopening, students still worry about lack of summer work

Concerns raised about the ability of young people to earn enough to help cover tuition in the fall

Brandon Rheal Amyot was sweating while perusing summer job opportunities in February, realizing that opportunities weren’t abundant.

The Lakehead University student watched something similar happen last year when job opportunities dried up as Canada went through its first summer of COVID-19.

Now, provinces are set to reopen economic activity and economists expect a hiring boom, but all that comes too late for students, Amyot said, noting employers have mostly filled positions, while other sectors just aren’t hiring students as normal.

Student groups say that raises concerns about the ability for young people to earn enough to help cover tuition in the fall, or get a first job.

“This summer, unemployment is not quite as high as it was, but it’s still an issue,” said Amyot, with the Ontario wing of the Canadian Federation of Students.

“If you don’t already have a co-op, or a placement that is paid, you’re probably pretty strapped right now.”

Amyot added the situation is acute for youth who typically face barriers to employment, such as Indigenous people, the LGBTQ community and recent immigrants.

Statistics Canada’s latest jobs report said the unemployment rate for students returning to classes in the fall stood at 23.1 per cent in May, typically the month when post-secondary students start into summer work after wrapping their studies for the school year.

The data agency’s report noted the unemployment rate last month for returning students was just over half of the 40 per cent recorded in the same month last year, but higher than the 13.7 per cent recorded in May 2019.

Behnoush Amery, a senior economist with the Labour Market Information Council, said youth aged 15 to 24 accounted for about two-fifths of the employment drop last month, marking yet another hit for a cohort nicknamed the “lockdown generation.”

Young workers are generally the first to be laid off when times get tough, but often not the first to be rehired as they compete for fewer opportunities with more experienced workers, Amery said.

Many of the positions students occupy this time of year are in retail, tourism and other industries still affected by the pandemic, said Marley Gillies, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

She said federal funding to expand the summer jobs programs should help cushion the blow, but noted the need to expand eligibility criteria to capture older and international students.

May’s employment report noted the situation was more dire for visible minority youth. Statistics Canada said their unemployment rate hit 24.8 per cent in May compared to the 14.9 per cent for non-visible minorities, not adjusted for seasonal variations.

Visible minority groups often face hurdles to finding work that are heightened by the economic situation in which the country finds itself, said Marie Dolcetti-Koros, national treasurer for the Canadian Federation of Students. She also said the jobs figures don’t detail the quality of jobs marginalized youth often take on.

“Marginalized students and youth have survived the past year by working front-line jobs, which has also increased their exposure to COVID-19, just to stay afloat,” she said.

A review of one now-scrapped federal program aimed at helping improve employment outcomes for those youth found that participants were more often able to find work, but they ended up earning less than peers who didn’t go through the “skills link” program.

That contrasted to another program for recent graduates that showed higher incomes five years post-program, and a federal financial benefit in the form of more tax revenues and less spending on social supports.

“Being unemployed or unskilled in a high-income country such as Canada where labour demand is skill-intensive, puts youth at a distinct disadvantage,” officials from Employment and Social Development Canada noted in “skills link” review.

The federal government overhauled the strategy in 2019, tying funding to groups on outcomes. A spokeswoman for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said the revamped strategy aims to be more flexible and enhanced, and tailored supports for youth facing barriers to employment.

Behind the immediate concerns about work for this summer are concerns far into the future. Studies have shown that graduates entering the labour market full time in a recession often have a long-term impacts on their careers and lifetime earnings.

“Not providing opportunities, not making investments in young people and in our communities will impact people’s livelihood, health, well-being and have generational effects that will create additional barriers to obtaining post-secondary education and additional barriers to entering a job market,” Dolcetti-Koros said.

—Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Economy lost 68,000 jobs in May, unemployment rate 8.2%, Statistics Canada says

JobsStudents

Just Posted

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans to hold a vigil on Friday, June 25 at 8 p.m. to honour the victims of what officials are calling a terrorist attack on five Muslims in London, Ont. (File photo)
Salmon Arm council holds minute of silence to honour victims of Ontario attack

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society plans vigil for Muslim family on June 25, 8 p.m. at McGuire Lake

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Goosebumps helped scare off predators

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A first-dose mobile vaccination clinic is being held on Tuesday, June 15 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Salmon Arm fairgrounds, west entrance across from spray park. (Interior Health image)
Location for Salmon Arm’s June 15 COVID-19 mobile vaccine clinic changes slightly

Immunization clinic still at fairgrounds but people attending asked to use different entrance

Felix Haase and Jayme Saretzky staff a pop-up booth to support the Salmon Arm Pride Project on the patio of the newly reopened Wild Craft Mercantile at 121 Shuswap St. on Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Wild Craft Mercantile in Salmon Arm holds grand reopening, celebrates Pride month

Store moves from Lakeshore to Shuswap, demonstrates support for Pride project

A City of Salmon Arm vacuum truck cleans out the city storm drain on Hudson Avenue in Salmon Arm Monday morning, June 14 after a crane truck blew a hydraulic line, spewing oil onto the road. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Fire trucks called to small oil spill in Salmon Arm

Traffic delayed on Hudson Avenue Monday morning after crane truck blows hydraulic line

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bitten by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck

Most Read