More cash for kids
By Kevin Gale
The federal government is trying to help students cure the pre-summertime blues of finding a job.
The Minister of Human Resources and Development, Pierre Pettigrew, announced yesterday the details of how his department will use the remaining $255 million of the $315 million set aside for youth job creation in the last federal budget, as $60 million was spent last year, creating 35,000 jobs.
Joanne Lamothe, director of youth initiatives for the Ministry, said Canadian youth, people aged 18-25-years old, were concerned they did not have enough access to job information and did not have enough opportunities to get job experience, so the government responded. "Our mandate is to help get work experience for youth," she said.
The summer job creation target for this year is 30,000, Lamothe said. In total the government hopes to create 90,000 summer jobs over the next three years, in addition to 20,000 internships for non-students all in the private sector and non-profit organizations. "The internships are for youth who are unemployed," she said.
University Students' Council President Dave Tompkins said the initiative is positive for students. "It's good the government has recognized the need for student employment for both students saving for university and already in university," he said.
However, Sharon Lee, co-ordinator of Western's student employment services, said she is always skeptical about the impact job creation strategies have on students. "Everyone knows there are problems," she said. "I have never seen one that has made a dent yet."
The most important issue facing students and job hunting today is they cannot find well-paying summer jobs, Lee said. "There is a widening gap between what students can earn and what they pay [for school]. They have to scrape and compete for minimum wage jobs."
Tompkins echoed Lee's concern. "The viability of the program will depend on how much students will be able to make to support themselves through their next year of study."
Lamothe said the government has developed a website, called the Youth Resource Network of Canada, which gives youth the opportunity to find jobs, services, exchanges and work experience programs all at once. "It's a one-stop shopping point," she said.
She added a toll-free number will also be set up as part of the program so people can call and get general information about jobs.
However, Lee said the use of the Internet has helped Western students find jobs through the Internet employment café, which has doubled full-time job listings. "It's just a little tip of the iceberg," she said, adding a new and improved site will be launched in two weeks time.
Lamothe said the jobs expected to be created for students are those which give students career-related experiences in large industry growth areas such as technology and added it is undetermined how much money will be given for individual jobs.
Lee said with other government job programs, the number of postings for jobs in the centre has remained steady between 400-500, with each posting offering several jobs at a time.