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Future bright for SAIT students

The future is looking brighter for SAIT students seeking work experience in Calgary.

“Now, I’m actually having employers reach out to me directly. It’s a real switch in just 12 months, things are, I would say, pretty optimistic,” said Mark Jensen, SAIT Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Work Experience Coordinator.

Jensen said that he has seen a rise in the internship, co-op placements and practicums available for students since starting with SAIT in 2017.

Calgary has experienced a decline in the unemployment rate rising to the top 10 of BMO’s city performance ranking, after being ranked at the bottom of the ranking in 2017.

Jensen said that once the cost of oil crossed $60 employees became more open to taking on students, because companies were willing to proceed with projects. These projects were especially good news from an ICT perspective, said Jensen, because it allows student to use their technology skills in the work place.

“[Work placements] reaffirm the lessons from the classroom, which is super critical,” said Jensen.

The ICT coordinator said that the practicums, co-op placements and internships available to students offer an opportunity for them to get out into the workforce and see how the skills they have learned in class actually work.

The learning opportunities available to students are also essential said Jensen, because they are able to generate more references and industry relationships and create more credibility.

“If you have an instructor and someone from the industry who say ‘Bill did a really great job’ that just adds that much more credibility to the student moving forward in their career,” said Jensen.

The opportunity to work in a professional work place also gives students access to help from professionals in their field of work and the opportunity to network, said Jensen.

These exposures to both work places and industry leaders can set students up for success.

Outside of practicum, co-op placements and internships Jensen said he recommends looking for networking events including Meetups, conferences and other learning opportunities.

“Start networking yesterday,” said Jensen, who said that at least half of jobs come through meeting people.

“[Work placements] reaffirm the lessons from the classroom, which is super critical,” said Jensen.

The Work Experience Coordinator said that the best way to network and approach colleagues in the industry is by starting a conversation.

In the latest Labour Force Survey released by Statistics Canada Alberta posted 26,000 new jobs in January, and the provinces joblessness rate dropped by 6.9 per cent.

However, the unemployment rate in Calgary has remained at 7.5 per cent. The only major Canadian cities with lower rates are Saskatoon and St. John’s.

Alberta’s unemployment rate is now at the lowest level it has been since 2015.

Statistics released from the University of Calgary show that internships placements increased by more than two thirds in the last four months, rising from 86 this time last year to 134 now.

“The future is bright, our numbers are up in terms of people securing practicums,” said Jensen.

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