As daily COVID-19 cases still number in the thousands despite the increasing rate of vaccinations, the Canadian economy continues to suffer from its effects. This resurgence of cases, coupled with increased restrictions, has led to more jobs being lost — and less prospects for post-secondary students seeking work.
According to BNN Bloomberg, a total of 207,100 jobs were lost in April, and the unemployment rate rose to just over eight per cent, with long-term unemployment increasing more than expected. Further restrictions have been blamed for this trend, including the closure of non-essential businesses and schools.
“The job prospects for displaced workers grow slimmer with every month in lockdown as more businesses throw in the towel,” stated Leah Nord, a senior director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Difficulties in reopening the economy have also impacted young workers, with jobs for people aged 15 to 24 falling by 101,000 in April. Recent university graduates have faced extraordinary difficulty in searching for employment, as opportunities dwindle and competition remains fierce for the few positions available.
Anjelica Ramsewack, a graduating communications student from York’s Glendon campus, has expressed her frustrations regarding the inhospitable job market.
“It has become increasingly more competitive to get a call back from companies given the dozens of applications they probably get a day. Overall, I’ve noticed it’s very difficult to find a job now given the many small businesses that have closed and the many unemployed individuals there are.”
These difficulties have caused financial problems for Ramsewack, especially with funding her education. Though she had a part-time on-campus job throughout the school year, it was still not enough to pay for her tuition and textbooks. Ramsewack states that she’s forced to rely on her parents for additional support until she can secure employment.
Students seeking internships face a similarly difficult situation during the pandemic. A student at Western University named Ethan Gilhula recently published an op-ed on CBC about this. He criticizes employers for their unrealistic expectations, saying that “companies hurt themselves just as much as the students they’re not hiring.”
Saman Gholami, a fourth-year business student at McGill University, faces similar hurdles in his search for internships. “I found that networking and building connections with professionals was challenging in an online environment,” he says.
After sending out many applications, however, he was able to land an internship at last. Gholami’s experience has left him optimistic for the future of the economy.
“Things are looking up for sure. I’m excited for the economy to drive forward because it gives students more opportunities, and I’m excited to see how working from home will be integrated into the professional environment,” he says.
Ramsewack echoes a similarly optimistic outlook on the future of the Canadian job market.
“I’m hoping things will start to get better when more and more people get vaccinated. There is light in this dark tunnel, and I think there’s a bright future for a lot of us that are hoping to start working soon. I really want to be able to gain hands on and in-person career-specific skills, which I’m sure will be possible in the near future when it’s not too difficult to find jobs.”
Past evidence has shown that employment rises again quickly when COVID-19 outbreaks subside. With scientists saying that vaccination will lead to fewer, less intense outbreaks of viruses in general, there is potential to be optimistic for the job market in future.