Ontario promises summer job incentives

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, speaks with students at Harbourfront Community Centre on March 20 about their experiences with the provincial government’s Summer Job Strategy.

Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, speaks with students at Harbourfront Community Centre on March 20 about their experiences with the provincial government’s Summer Job Strategy.

Students having difficulty finding summer employment can turn to the provincial government for support in addressing their work woes.

The province of Ontario’s Summer Job Strategy is returning for the summer of 2013 to help students between the ages of 15 and 29 find gainful employment for the months separating the fall and winter semesters.

Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said summer jobs are important because the lessons and skills students learn will follow them throughout their careers.

“The workplace is a great teacher, and we’re committed to helping more young people get to work where they can learn, and earn, to everyone’s benefit,” he said.

“You look back at those jobs, and maybe you’d have wanted to spend that time on the beach, but those jobs were great experiences.”

Last year, the summer job strategy helped more than 100,000 students find work and Minister Duguid said he is confident that 2013 will see similar results.

At the core of the strategy is a $2 per hour incentive that the province offers to employers who hire students who will be returning to school in the fall.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, said that summer jobs represent more than just paycheques.

“It’s the opportunity, in many cases, to get your foot in the door,” he said.

Karen Fast, manager of Humber North’s Career Centre, said that while students should approach their job search with an open mind, not all jobs are created equal.

“Where I see students go wrong is they just take any old thing just to get money and they don’t try to get the related experience that’s going to help them build their resume,” she said.

Students determined to find a job in their field of study might find themselves tempted by unpaid, or voluntary, internships, Fast said, adding she is wary of these positions, likening them to a form of student exploitation.

“I’ve heard so many employers say, ‘Oh, but it’s such a good opportunity for them to gain experience,’ and all this,” she said. “’Yeah, blah blah blah, you’re getting a free employee.’”

Fast said she often reminds students that, instead of pursuing an internship directly linked to their studies, they can often learn applicable skills elsewhere in positions where the student would be paid for their efforts.

Frankie Lombardo, 20, a second-year business management student, is currently looking for a summer job and said he values flexibility above relevance to his program and wages.

“I have a lot of things with my family, so if I need to go see my grandmother, I’d need Saturdays and Sundays off,” he said.

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