Due to COVID-19, graduates lose positions and face a difficult summer employment market.
When COVID-19 struck, Parmoon Sarmadi was already in a precarious financial situation.
She had taken out bank loans to pay for much of her master’s degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto. She was banking on a paid summer internship, which was a requirement of the 12-month program, to help her pay off her debt. She was also keen to contribute to the living expenses of her four-person family, which relies solely on her father for a consistent income.
However, despite a positive interview for a research position at University Health Network, no job offer from a Toronto hospital came. Similarly, the several interviews she’d scheduled for co-op work at corporations vanished when the programs were canceled for the year.
“I’m still looking for summer work,” she added, “but many organizations are on a hiring freeze, which is logical, and I have no idea how to keep myself and my family financially afloat in the next months.” “I’m afraid, bewildered, and uncertain about the future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed vast swaths of the economy, displacing an unprecedented number of workers in a short period and causing widespread economic concern.
The federal government developed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (or CERB) to pay workers who have lost all of their income $2,000 per month in emergency payments for four months. However, it has not yet provided financial support to students who were not working during the emergency efforts to limit the epidemic but whose summer job chances have been too harming severely.
Sarmadi isn’t the only one in this situation
Approximately one million young people aged 15 to 24 entered the labor market over the summer vacation, and there will be considerably fewer chances for them this year.
“One of the major concerns is that it’s unclear how the current systems will help people who won’t have a job this summer, not because they’ve lost their job, but because they won’t be hired if this thing lasts longer than we think,” said Andrew Agopsowicz, a who works as a senior economist at the Royal Bank of Canada studies the impact of economic downturns on young people and other groups.
“I believe we’ll have to start thinking about how people can qualify for employment insurance that isn’t closely linked to previous employment.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Sunday that the government was aware of the situation. Obstacles that graduates confront and that he would have more to say in the coming days about initiatives to assist them.
“We realize we need to do more for young people when they come out of university and are looking for projects and ways to make money this summer,” he said, hinting that direct financial support was available and that students might want to consider working on a farm or in a fishery.
‘We rely on summer jobs,’ says the narrator.
“Students, too, require assistance,” Samuel Wiggans stated. “I don’t want a bailout; I’d rather work.” But, if that isn’t practicable, the government must handle the issue.”
The 29-year-old, who returned to school last year to pursue a teaching degree, has been perusing job listings for weeks, hoping to find any work he can.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, his five-week placement at an elementary school in Ottawa was terminated, and his efforts to find summer camp work were hindered. At the same time, he was canceled from an interview for a job delivering food to restaurants.
Wiggans, like many other university and college students around the country, had relied on summer jobs to pay his bills for the coming academic year.
Joshua Diemert, a University of British Columbia post-graduate public policy student, has been offered summer work with Global Affairs, the federal foreign affairs department, by the sanctions team. However, his start date has been moved back a month, and it is still unclear whether they will accommodate him.
He’s currently in limbo, unsure whether to look for housing in Ottawa or sublet his Vancouver apartment — and how to stretch his budget to cover the missing month of pay.
“The CERB policy is upsetting since it only concerns people who are currently employed, not people who have jobs lined up,” he stated. “Talk to any undergraduate or graduate student, and you’ll find that we all rely on summer jobs to fund the rest of our year.”
“I’m going to start making decisions about, you know, do I need to get food in other ways to pay rent or stuff like that,” he explained.
Offers are being retracted, and some remote employment may be available.
According to Cara Krizek, president of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, roughly 100,000 students from around 50 educational institutions participated in co-op programs last year. A similar number completed other work-integrated learning such as field placement, apprenticeships, internships, and practicums.
She noted that around half of the institutions that offer co-op programs had reported on enrolment for this year, with 48 percent of prospective students having obtained places, compared to 67 percent last year at this time.
“We’re starting to see offers revoked, but we’re also seeing support for as many kids as possible working remotely for those types of companies that can,” she added, referring to banking, accounting, and other office-based employment.
She claims that healthcare providers have been considerably less likely to keep their programs and that colleges, for which data is unavailable, will be struck even harder because providing practical learning is more challenging.
Ottawa, according to Krizek, is attempting to assist, including by paying the $800 million it budgeted to support firms who offer student work-placement programs in the beginning rather than at the end of the placements.
She’s currently trying to figure out if students who have already secured co-op placements are qualified for CERB.
Institutions Canada’s president and CEO, Paul Davidson, stated, “Canada’s universities are acutely aware of the many issues students, graduates, and displaced employees are facing at this time, and are working around the clock to support them in any way. They can.”They added that the organization was collaborating closely with the federal government and the employer community on these issues.
Last week, Carla Qualtrough, the federal employment minister, indicated that Ottawa was well aware of students’ concerns before Trudeau’s weekend remarks.
“We recognize how this pandemic coincides with the end of the school year for university students and graduates, as well as the resulting stress. We understand how worrying that is for many people who had a job lined up or were looking for summer work.”
She claimed that prior promises of employer wage subsidies and a freeze on student loan payments would help students, despite those interviewed for this piece pointed out that student loan repayment doesn’t begin for another six months after graduation.
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