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By Darya Eshaghi —

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in Canada’s social and economic norms. With frequent lockdowns and businesses being forced to close, many individuals all across Ontario are finding it nearly impossible to find work. A large percentage of those individuals are students – particularly new and recent graduates.

“I am fortunate to have a part-time position working in my field because many of my classmates are having difficulty even landing a part-time job, let alone a full-time one,” said Matthew Karambatos, 21, a fourth year Ryerson University student who will graduate this year. “Looking for a full-time position in my field has been difficult to say the least.”

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in January of 2021 was 9.4%, reaching its highest point since August of 2020. Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 declined by 4.6% in January, which is also the lowest level since August 2020.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed. This month, Western University in London launched a new pilot program in collaboration with the London Economic Development Corp (LEDC) to help new graduates kick start their careers. Western is the third university to launch this type of grant, after Queen’s University and the University of Guelph. It is designed to incentivize organizations to hire talented new graduates and to give them a chance to gain enough experience to qualify for more senior positions. 

“The grant programs help alleviate the time period between somebody starting and becoming a ‘productive’ contributing member of a company or organization,” said Robert Collins, LEDC director of workforce development.

However, Collins also discussed the importance of students learning effective job-hunting skills on their own.

“There are more people looking for jobs than jobs posted. It doesn’t mean they are not available,” he said. “How people approach looking for work is flawed.”

The onus is on students to make sure that they are networking and using the resources available to them, such as their university career centres, to ensure their own success, said Collins.

But he added it is a “balancing act” between both students and prospective employers to ensure their mutual success, especially in times as hard as these where everyone could benefit from working together.

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