Students feel economic pinch

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July 7, 2015 8:15 AM

Josef Jacobson photo Lakeland College registrar and dean of Student Services Allen Verbeek says the Student Employment Centre is 43 per cent busier as students look for work in an uncertain economy.

With schools closing for the year, students are looking for summer jobs. But a recent Statistics Canada report has found that students are starting to face the effects of the current economic slump.

According to the agency’s May labour force survey, the unemployment rate among students ages 20 to 24 is now 15.1 per cent, an increase of 1.5 per cent since May 2014. The same survey found that unemployment in Alberta has risen by 0.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent, which is the highest it has been since January 2011.

In Lloydminster, Lakeland College is feeling the effects of these figures, as more students are turning to the Student Employment Centre in search of summer work, although fewer employers are posting job opportunities to its website.

The Student Employment Centre helps students by connecting them with employers and by developing resumé, cover letter, job search and interview skills. This year, the centre saw a 43 per cent boost in appointments, while job postings in the winter 2015 semester dropped by 32 per cent from last year’s numbers.

“The fact that we had quite a decline that semester is indicative of just the economic challenges that we’re in in Alberta and to a lesser degree in Saskatchewan,” said Allen Verbeek, dean of student services and registrar at Lakeland College.

See “Students,” Page 9

“Certainly that hit is there, it’s real and we tend to see that although we have a growing number of companies that recruit earlier, we also have ones that relate to the natural resource extraction sector and gas sector that recruit later because they’re waiting to see what they’re going to have for work.”

Lakeland College also hosts a career fair in October and a business job fair in early March. Fifty-five employers took part in the fall fair this year, which Verbeek calls a “very strong showing.” Employers also visit the college to do on-campus recruiting through group interview sessions.

“(We) maintain those connections with employers, with industry so that we’ve got that solid credibility that they actually look to us because it makes their job easier,” Verbeek said. “So when you have that, even when things are a little bit tighter, once they start to loosen up again they still look to Lakeland College because we’ve got that strong rapport with them.”

Verbeek says it’s encouraging to see more students taking advantage of the skill development services offered at the Student Employment Centre, but he would see the centre get that attention when job markets are strong as well.

“Any negative can be a positive if you know how to look at it,” he said about the current job situation. “People are going to learn how to put their best foot forward, if they’re going to be dedicated to it, and they’re going to be that much more successful in life.”

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