Summer job market looking thin, head of U of C students’ union says

Final exams just kicked off for post-secondary students in Alberta, but many are already feeling anxious about finding summer jobs.

Shaziah Jinnah Morsette is the president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union and says the summer employment landscape is not looking promising for students.

“I’m struggling to find a job right now.” she says. “Students aren’t able to find a position to work and to earn the dollars they are going to need to sustain themselves.”

Jinnah Morsette says finding seasonal work has become increasingly difficult over the past five years after the provincial UCP government made the call to cancel the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The STEP program provided a wage subsidy to employers, offering an incentive to hire students for the summer months.

“It’s really disappointing to see because we’ve had solutions in the past that have helped students find summer work, not just summer work in general, but summer work in their fields,” Jinnah Morsette says.

“The barrier is the money. The funding is not there within (companies) budgets, so they look towards programs that can help subsidize that.”

Without the program, she says more students are settling for jobs that don’t align with their career goals to pay for food and books. She adds it’s rare to find a post-secondary student who isn’t sacrificing needs to cover the costs of tuition.

Jinnah Morsette believes having a government supported student jobs program is the bare minimum.

The STEP program was first introduced in 1972 and eliminated in 2013 by the Progressive Conservatives, before being reinstated by the NDP in 2016.

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