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Feds help students land summer jobs

More students hope to find summer employment after a recent announcement from the federal government about an increase in funding for the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Ted Menzies, newly-appointed minister of state for finance, announced Jan. 5 that the government plans to put an additional $10 million towards the program. It could result in an additional 3,500 jobs for full-time students in the summer of 2011.
The federal government will be investing specifically in non-profits, public sector agencies and small businesses.
This increase in funding comes in response to last year’s record levels for student unemployment and student loan debt.
Last July, Statistics Canada reported student unemployment reached 20.9 per cent – the highest level Statistics Canada has ever recorded.
In early 2010, student loan debt owed to the federal government surpassed $13 billion, a first in Canadian history.
Travis Ouchi, SAIT student employment specialist, said it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to this funding increase. “Any funding on the surface level sounds great,” said Ouchi. “It sounds like a good way for the government to help stimulate the economy.”
He said it will definitely affect the unemployment level, but doesn’t know how it will affect student debt because tuition costs are still on the rise. Ouchi also said there won’t likely be a recordable difference in student employment until summer 2012.
Priority will be given to jobs and workplaces that support local communities and priorities, offer career-related experience to students, and will hire students with disabilities and youth who are members of visible minority groups.
Brittany Pittman, first-year Business Administration student, found summer employment last year, but she understands the difficulties students go through to find work. “For many students it’s hard to get a job that pays higher than $10 an hour,” said Pittman. She added she hopes the increase will help students gain employment in jobs pertaining to their field of study.
Last summer, Natasha Kachur, second-year Library Information Technology student, avoided the difficult Calgary job search and returned to her hometown in Saskatchewan to find a job working at 7-11. “I think the difficulty of finding a summer job is different for different people and it depends on where they are looking to get a job,” said Kachur. She hopes to find a job early this summer that will put her LIT diploma to use.
Last year, about 37,000 full-time students aged 15 to 30 had their jobs subsidized through the Canada Summer Jobs program. They most likely had no idea that they benefited from the program, because a full list of supported workplaces is only  available after the summer is over.

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