Photo: Mike Watier

More than McJobs

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By Deborah Gardner

The Liberals hope their Youth Employment Strategy will help cut unemployment lines for university students. But many could go back to long summers of serving fries.

The government hopes its long awaited strategy will create up to 110,000 summer jobs and career-related internships for students.

“This will help students to be more prepared and students will have the money they so desperately need,” said Matthew Hough, national director at the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

The Youth Resource Network, introduced by Human Resources Minister Pierre Pettigrew, focuses on improving access to career information on the internet. The web site will also give information to students about the program and serve as a job bank.

New internship programs will be available with help from the private sector, non-profit organizations and community agencies as well. These internships will be in science and technology, the environment and international trade and development. Many of these internships are year-long and some are located in other countries.

“I think it’s hope for the younger generation,” said a youth information line representative. “It’s a strategy to help youth make the transition from school to work.”

The 1996 federal budget set aside $315 million for this program, currently expected to run for two years.

Last July’s unemployment rate for returning students between the ages of 15 and 24 was 18.4 per cent. Because of this, Hough expects demand for the program to go through the roof. “The uptake will be fast and furious,” he said.

But not everyone is excited about the program. Brad Lavigne, national chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said this program is similar to the one the government created last year. Because too few jobs were developed, it didn’t work.

“It’s an unacceptably low target. It is the exact same money and exact same target for jobs as last year,” said Lavigne.

The Ryerson Career Centre will receive information on the program next week.

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