Normally, the prospect of a summer job is an exciting one: a chance to earn some money towards the coming academic year, after obtaining a degree or being accepted to a training program.
This summer presented a sobering new reality for young job seekers - there were very few jobs available. Because of COVID-19, many typical places young people might look for work weren’t open or were barely operating. Across the country, young people have borne a disproportionate share of job losses associated with COVID-19.
Enter the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, an important, annual federal program with support from politicians of all stripes. CSJ provides employers with incentives to hire young people – in many cases to work in roles related to their chosen fields of study. The program provides career-related work experience in supervised professional settings offering entry-level positions in community service, non-profit and charitable organizations and small businesses.
Making a difference in the community
Each summer, I take time to visit organizations that employ CSJ students. This provides opportunities to hear from young workers, and to see directly how CSJ has made a difference for the employer and benefitted the community.
Given the COVID crisis, you might think finding employment for students would be difficult. In fact, we found significant demand – particularly from service organizations working hard to maintain essential programs while providing safe, meaningful work.
The demand was, in part, created by changes made to the way CSJ works – emphasizing additional flexibility and extending timeframes, allowing organizations to consider taking on employees as they re-open into the fall or on a part-time basis.
This year in North Vancouver, the program involved 79 employers and created 125 jobs. These included:
“I wouldn’t have a full-time position without this [CSJ] grant. I’m interested in food security and food systems and this is definitely relevant to my interests and field of study,” confirmed Haley.
During difficult times, it is critical that we ensure learning and work opportunities for young people. Our experiences between the ages of 18 and 30 are formative years, so important to moving successfully through life. The Canada Summer Jobs Program, more flexible and responsive this year, is having a positive impact for many North Vancouver youth.