Volume 92, Issue 17

Thursday, October 1, 1998

decisions decisions


Students prefer getting private sector dollars

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

A recent study conducted by the Public Policy Forum found university students aren't necessarily interested in what government job opportunities can offer them.

Jennifer Smith, director of research of the PPF, the non-profit organization who conducted the study, said its objectives were threefold.

She said the study hoped to gather information and examine the career choices of future university graduates. It aimed to identify the needs and wants of these graduates and how they relate to public service recruitment as well as make recommendations to the federal Public Service Commission of Canada for improved recruitment campaigns.

"We recognize the importance of having a strong and high-quality public service," Smith said.

The results showed that 74 per cent of the surveyed students thought they could get jobs in the private sector and 64 per cent said they wanted to work there, she said.

Keith Hobbs, liaison for the PSCC, the commission responsible for federal recruitment programs, believes the study will prove to be a win-win situation for both the university students who are represented by the study as well as the federal government.

"I think this survey is a benchmark – this is research involving students while they're still in university. We'll understand the needs and interests of potential employees," he said.

Of the 13 universities who took part in the study, in which Western was included, over 2,500 responses were collected. "We sampled a variety of students with different academic backgrounds – from engineering to journalism," Smith said.

The survey found the three leading factors which students feel are important when finding a job include if the job will be interesting and will present a challenge to them, if the pay of the job is sufficient and if the student is given the opportunity to work in their field of study, Smith said. "What's really interesting is what the students thought was least important – they're the things government jobs do offer."

Smith said the three factors students found least important when searching for jobs included the job offering a culturally diverse work force, the opportunity to learn another language and location.

"I think the study indicates that students aren't looking for make-work projects," said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council. Iozzo also said he believes employers should target experience and present challenges for their student employees.

"Students want experience," he said.

Hobbs is confident the results of the survey will help improve the PSC's marketing of federal recruitment programs. "We'll be able to match people with jobs they want to be in and are pleased with."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998