All Posts Tagged With: "recession"
Why a generation of well-educated Canadians has no future
Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer. She chose a vocation that, by unanimous opinion, represented a path to steady employment—teaching English as a second language to the thousands of immigrants pouring into B.C., a good many of whom, the experts predicted, would be making their way to Victoria, where she grew up and wished to make a home. That was back in the early 2000s, when opportunities for the young and industrious appeared unlimited. A rewarding career seemed within reach for all.
Cullins’s degree in applied linguistics was the gold standard of ESL qualifications. But she graduated in the thick of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the entry-level position she imagined would launch her career never materialized. Governments cut back on language transition programs. Resumés piled up in recruitment offices. Her calls to program directors went unanswered. “For me, that was a huge blow,” she says. “I had almost perfect performance reviews from my practicums, but I couldn’t even get an interview. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me?”
Here are some job statistics you’ll want to consider
After a steep recession-era decline in hiring of academics in the arts and social sciences, potential PhDs have reasons for optimism—or despair—depending on how you look at it.
The good news is that job listings on the American Historical Association’s website, considered a market barometer for North America, increased from 569 in the 2009-10 academic year to 627 in 2010-11. That’s up 10.2 per cent year-on-year.
The bad news? That figure is still 40 per cent lower than the 1,064 jobs posted in 2007-08, before the recession led to budgetary restraint.
The modest rebound is a common theme across the arts and social sciences.
In the wake of the Great Recession, economists were accused of missing the obvious warning signs of the ﬁnancial meltdown.
In the wake of the Great Recession, economists were accused of missing the obvious warning signs of the ﬁnancial meltdown. More recently, critics have suggested an even more sinister failure—that conﬂicts of interest clouded many economists’ forecasts. A study of 19 economists by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that the majority failed to disclose paid affiliations with financial organizations while offering expert advice to the media and in their research. It concluded that the profession should establish a code of ethics.
This month, 300 economists signed a letter to the American Economic Association calling on the group to adopt such a code, requiring members to disclose “relevant sources of financial support and relevant personal or professional relationships.” Last week the AEA agreed to raise the issue at its annual meeting. While there is still reluctance to police the profession, the debate is a small step toward rehabilitating the dismal science.
Fewer students will leave universities short of funds to maintain their infrastructure, teaching staff and pay off their debts
For many Canadian universities increasing enrolment has been a point of pride but David Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo, recently told the Ryerson Eyeopener that due to Canada’s changing demographics “over the next two, three, four years the number of enrollments will start to decline.”
We’re already seeing this to a certain extent here in Quebec. English universities are increasingly attempting to attract Francophones because there is little room for growth in the Anglophone community. As well many Canadian universities are recruiting more and more international students to keep growth rates high. While the recent economic slowdown has pushed enrolment rates up, as the economy slowly recovers, and as those returning to school graduate, this factor will diminish.
Canadian universities are already becoming highly competitive when it comes to recruiting students from other parts of the country, open any student newspaper and you’ll see ads from other universities. Concordia ads have been spotted in Truro N.S. and while I was editor-in-chief of the Concordian student newspaper last year I received several emails from various universities encouraging me to apply for their journalism programs. This competition will only increase if enrolment drops and advertising and recruitment costs money that could be used for education.
Many, if not most, Canadian universities are carrying long-term debt in the millions of dollars and are counting on increasing enrolment to help pay off these debts. Lower enrolment will leave universities short of funds to maintain their infrastructure, teaching staff and pay off their debts.
Also, we’re currently in a period where universities are carrying out major construction projects. As part of the economic stimulus program the federal government is in the process of pumping $2 billion into university infrastructure and provinces are doing the same. Quebec alone is putting in more than $600 million. Now, not all of this money is going towards new buildings but a lot of it is. If enrolment drops will our expanded universities start to look like ghost towns?
Student unemployment spiked during recession according to Statistics Canada
While it is commonly understood that universities and colleges are a refuge from a hard economic climate, students were among the hardest hit by the recession, according to a report released by Statistics Canada yesterday. The unemployment rate jumped to nine per cent in 2009-10 compared to 6.5 per cent in 2007-08 before the economic downturn. Though the overall employment rate fell to 45 per cent from 48 per cent, it was still markedly higher than the 1970s when the employment rate for students was 25 per cent.
Summer of 2009 represented the hardest labour market for students aged 20-24 when the jobless rate hit 14 per cent, compared to nine per cent in summer 2008. During the recession those who worked, worked an average of one hour less, but the average wage rose from $10.75 to $11.80, resulting in average earnings holding at $6,300. Of students who worked, 96 per cent were employed in the service sector.
The report noted that a one per cent increase in unemployment, results in a six per cent increase of students seeking loans.
Statistics Canada remains optimistic that with the reversal of the economic downturn students who wish to find work should be able to do so. The employment rate increased in summer 2010 to to 47 per cent. “With signs that student employment is starting to recover, students wanting work may soon have a better chance of being employed again,” the report stated.
Despite not having brand-name cachet, Canadian business schools excel in attractive areas
Many of Sarah Kaplan’s former students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School asked her the same question when they found out she took a job at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management last year: “Why Canada?”
It’s an understandable question. Wharton, after all, is one of the top business schools in the United States, if not the world. And while Rotman has made significant strides in climbing up the global rankings over the past decade, it is still a long way from being considered in the same breath as Wharton, Harvard and Stanford—the sorts of places where a mere mention of the institution’s name will instantly open doors.
In fact, only two Canadian M.B.A. programs made it into the top 50 on the respected Financial Times list for this year. They are Rotman (45) and the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business (49). York University’s Schulich School of Business’s M.B.A. program was ranked 54th.
But rankings don’t paint a complete picture “Rotman has one of the top strategy departments,” Kaplan says. “If I look at the quality of research and quality of faculty, I’ve joined one of the top schools in North America.” For students, though, a lack of name recognition at Canadian schools presents a conundrum. While the education may be of high quality and more affordable than in the U.S., it can be more difficult to get on the radar of big U.S. companies and the recruiters that scour the globe for top talent.
The good news is that things are beginning to change. The meltdown that started on Wall Street and reverberated around the globe in a flurry of bank failures and government bailouts largely skipped over Canada, where a more conservative approach was credited for keeping the banking sector out of trouble. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has since suggested that Canada be used as a model for other countries, an argument bolstered by global surveys and even U.S. President Barack Obama, who said, “Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of the financial system and economy in ways that we haven’t always been.” And there’s reason to believe Canadian business schools are poised to benefit by association. “The fact that the Canadian economy gets a lot of attention can only be good for Canadian business schools,” Kaplan says.
The challenge will be successfully capitalizing on the spotlight to show the world that there’s more to the Canadian approach than being conservative about money—a trait that appeared admirable during a once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis, but may also be holding back the country when it comes to producing global champions.
The financial crisis, spawned by the risky mortgage-backed securities created by Wall Street, inevitably resulted in soul-searching about the roles of business schools in promoting a profit-at-all-costs breed of capitalism. By contrast, many Canadian schools emerged from the recession with comparatively little baggage, and even enjoyed a perception of being part of the solution.
It added up to a unique opportunity for those charged with attracting top talent north of the border. “When the American schools scaled back on their hiring, many of the Canadian schools took advantage of it,” says Rick Powers, Rotman’s associate dean, noting that Rotman has made several key hires as part of a drive that will see faculty grow from 115 to 150 over the next four years. In addition to Kaplan, new faculty includes: Kent Womack, a visiting professor of finance who has taught M.B.A. and executive programs at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College for over 10 years, and Partha Mohanram, an associate professor of accounting who came from Columbia University. Powers says, “Now Canada has become a very viable destination, not only for students, but faculty.”
For second month in a row student job numbers improve
For the second month in a row student unemployment has dropped, according to the latest Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. The overall unemployment rate increased 0.1 points to 8.0 per cent, but students aged 20-24 are having an easier time in the labour market over last summer.
The July unemployment rate for all students (ages 15-24) dropped 4.1 points over July 2009 to 16.8 per cent. Students in the 20-24 category posted an unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent, compared to 28.2 per cent for those in 15-16 category, and 18.2 per cent for the 18-19 age group. In June, the student unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 was 10.3 per cent.
Labour Force Survey shows improved unemployment rate for students
Students are finding summer employment more readily this year, compared to last, according to numbers released Friday by Statistics Canada. The Overall unemployment rate, at 7.9 per cent, is at its lowest level since January 2009. While the May and June job numbers improved for most demographics, they are particularly encouraging for the summer student job market.
The unemployment rate for youths aged 15-24 dropped 0.5 per cent between May and June, and about one per cent over June 2009, bringing it to 14.6 per cent. When isolating students, those who were full time in March and who are planning to return to school in the fall, the unemployment rate has improved faster. For students aged 20-24, the June unemployment rate dropped 3.7 percentage points to 10.7, over June 2009. Last year unemployment for the same group increased by 4.8 per cent over 2008, the worst since 1997. For students aged 17-19, the June 2010 unemployment rate dropped 2.1 percentage points over June 2009 to 16 per cent.
Related: Students fight for summer jobs
At least 43 staff and faculty to be shown the door
The University of Alberta is cutting its staff roster while student enrolment is projected to remain the same. Yesterday, the university announced that so far 43 people have been laid off involuntarily. That number is expected to rise to between 50 and 75, depending on budget calculations from departments and faculties. It is unclear how many contract professors will be hired in the fall.
Additionally, 181 employees took advantage of an early retirement buyout package. Some of those positions will be replaced with younger, and more affordable, faculty and staff while others will be eliminated altogether. Canwest has reported that 171 other employees have accepted other alternative retirement packages. (Update: We have been informed by the University of Alberta that some information in the Canwest story is erroneous. In particular, according to the university, 171 employees were not given alternative retirement packages. Rather, there are 63 regular retirees, and 181 who accepted the early retirement buyout.)
The staff cuts are part of a plan to reduce expenditures by five per cent across all units in order to address a $14.1 million deficit. Much of the cuts were precipitated by a reduction in provincial operating grants, that were not apparent until the university had accepted a majority of students for the fall. Enlarged class sizes are expected to be one of the consequences.
With stiff competition for school related work, many students are forced to look elsewhere to pay the bills
At the start of her summer, Rebecca Eves packed up her white pickup truck with all her belongings and drove west from Ottawa, where she’s studying restaurant and hotel management at Algonquin College, to Red Lake, Ontario. Every student is looking for the perfect summer job, and for Eves, it means living in a bunkhouse, eating out of a pack and fighting forest fires.
While experts predict the recession is turning around, students continue to think outside the box on how to land their idea of the perfect summer job. Despite the appeal of desk chairs and business suits, some students are donning overalls and aprons and getting their hands dirty, literally.
Eves said she chose to fight fires with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for the unique experience, even though it has nothing to do with her field of study. “I thrive off that feeling of satisfaction from being sore and dirty from working hard outside all day,” she said via text message from her remote base in Red Lake.
With the labour market lacking entry-level summer positions, many students are scrambling to find summer jobs related to their field of study.
Matt Wood, the executive director for the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres said the reality is students are searching longer and harder for career-related work. “I think with the recession in particular, but as is always the case, students are realizing that the labour market is more competitive and that they have to put some notches in their belt in career related jobs if they’re going to pursue their own vision for what their career is,” Wood said.
Wood said the transition between students graduating and landing a full-time job in their field is getting longer. While it doesn’t mean some students aren’t able to jump into their careers shortly after graduation, in the post-recession world Wood estimates for that making the leap into the career students have been preparing could be as long as 10 years. And, he said, post-recession, once coveted internships are increasingly lower paid or unpaid.
According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate of full-time Canadian students between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old ranged from 16.4 per cent in August 2009 to 21.1 per cent in May 2009. That rate increased significantly from the pre-recession data from 2008, which ranged from 11.4 per cent to 17.1 per cent.
With that in mind, Wood said students should expect, not only during the transition, but also during the summers ahead to explore all kinds of job options. “Everyone’s trying to get by until everything clicks,” he said. “They have to see that 10 year transition as an adventure.” For some students, summer means just that — a chance to pack away the pens and notebooks and look for a change of scenery. While many student jobs may not be career-advancing, Wood said these “McJobs” still pay the bills.
The Manitoba Conservation Fire Program also hires seasonal employees to man four to five member attack crews, similar to how Eves will spend her summer. Crews are dropped off by helicopter in a remote region suffering from wild or human-caused fires.
Fire Control Officer Jim Martinuk said students who fight with their crews find the job both “arduous” and “challenging.” Crews can expect to be on location for at least three days, he said. But in some cases the job can exceed two weeks. First-time students are provided with extensive fire and safety training before being sent to their first fire, and are required to pass a fitness test and have their First Aid and CPR certification.
Students are perfect candidates for fighting fires because they spend the school year retaining lots of important information in a short period of time. “Usually university students are more apt to pick up on the training, because they’re in that environment of learning. They adapt very well to picking up new skills.”
Students can also expect to make a decent chunk of cash. The program pays just over $16 per hour, plus several benefits such as weekend premiums, overtime pay and an allowance while on remote location.
Fighting fires isn’t the only forest-related work that tends to draw in students every summer. Tree planting across the country has been a popular student option for years. Those looking to get a tan, but avoid the beach, will find outdoor work and a decent income working for established companies such as Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd. “We’re actually turning a lot of people away right now,” operations manager and coast coordinator Timo Scheiber said. The biggest draw he said simply is: “It’s fun.”
Scheiber said students can expect to make an average of $150 per day their first summer, at five cents to just over twenty cents per tree planted depending on the area. Staying in a remote location where financial pressures like rent, food and entertainment are non-existent, students can put their money in the bank for upcoming school year.
But beyond financial concerns, Scheiber said students learn valuable life skills on the job that are sure to impress future employers. “From a company perspective, when you’re hiring people to work in your organization, what you can’t quantify is their character. It’s the extras that make the difference,” he said
Moving across the country to work in the bush is not the only option for skill-building summer jobs. Often students choose to stay closer to home and work as summer camp counsellors, lifeguards, tutors, landscapers and a whole host of other positions.
OAYEC’s Wood said there are also opportunities for students to learn entrepreneurial skills in the summer by running their own businesses. Student Works, which operates in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, has students form crews of painters, including a student crew chief, who contract and complete their own jobs under the banner of the trusted company name.
These types of jobs force students to develop problem-solving skills and marketing knowledge in a real work environment, while making some money.
Last summer, Matt Scriven, a 19-year-old Carleton University student, created job search site Studentopolis.ca to help students find work. The site currently hosts nearly 70,000 listings. He said while some students are focused on finding a career job, some students are less concerned with finding a job in their field. “I think the main thing for students is to find something fun and interesting, but also to make some money,” Scriven said.
Scriven said his site has lots of postings for typical students job opportunities like cooking, and labourer positions.
Students, he said, are often looking for work close to where they’ll be staying for the summer, which is why his site features an embedded Google Map for students to find jobs in their area. “Everyone’s strategy is a little different,” he said. While some aspire to their career dream jobs, some just look to get by for the summer, he said. “There are lots of jobs out there. It’s just a matter of what they want.”
Recessions hit young people hardest—even long after they’re over
During his ﬁnal year at the University of Ottawa, Justin Cantin had one goal for his ﬁrst job after graduation: not to wear a uniform. Ideally, he hoped to put his undergraduate degree in history to work in a museum or doing research. But after graduating last December, in the aftermath of the most severe recession in decades, reality hit. With $45,000 in loans, the 23-year-old moved back in with his mom in Mississauga, Ont., and started sending out resumés. He soon broadened his search to include part-time jobs, factory positions—“whatever would give me a paycheque,” he says. Last week, he landed a warehouse gig in Waterloo, Ont. Though relocating for a manual labour job is not something he ever imagined he’d do, he says, “It’s better than nothing.”
As Cantin struggles to adjust his expectations, he can take comfort, however cold, in the knowledge that many of his peers are doing the same. Though it’s been months since Canada’s economy returned to growth, recessions have a way of bearing down hard on youth, even long after they’re officially over. Predominantly employed in industries like retail and food service, which depend on consumer demand, or in unions where seniority rules, youth tend to be first on the chopping block when the economy goes south. This time was no different: since October 2008, more than 190,000 jobs for young people have disappeared; unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds rose to 16.3 per cent in August 2009, almost double the overall rate.
Although jobs are slowly coming back—as of February, youth unemployment had dropped to 15.2 per cent—what’s on offer is hardly the stuff from which middle-class careers are made. Thanks to the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, hiring freezes and the delayed retirement of workers, for many the reality is a spell of unemployment or a low-paying gig—both of which can have lasting consequences, derailing careers for years to come. While it’s impossible to know how much their future will be shaped by the Great Recession, one thing is clear: the generation raised to believe in the limitlessness of their own potential has just been dealt a very unlucky blow.
Strictly in terms of unemployment, this recession has not been as cruel to youth as other downturns. In August 1992, unemployment for those aged 15 to 24 shot up to 18.4 per cent; in the early ’80s, it reached 20.6 per cent. But according to Armine Yalnizyan, an economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it’s the kind of jobs that were lost that’s cause for concern. Whereas the recession in the early ’80s replaced full-time jobs with part-time jobs, and the one in the ’90s replaced traditional employment with self-employment, this downturn “seems to be replacing permanent jobs with temporary jobs,” she says. “Where is the next generation of middle-class jobs going to come from?” she asks. “There’s just nothing coming up on the menu.”
The best way for youth to survive the hostile job market, say experts, is to wait it out by investing in school or volunteer positions. The trouble is that with median family incomes slipping, indebtedness at record highs and boomer parents struggling, many youth can’t afford to delay working. To make matters worse, says David Green, an economist at the University of British Columbia, the social safety net is not what it once was. While 83 per cent of those who were unemployed at the beginning of the recession in the early ’90s qualified for jobless benefits, this time only 43 per cent qualified. And incomes aren’t what they used to be either: though new workers began to gain ground again in the mid-’90s, at the start of the recent recession, says Green, they were still facing real wages below those of their counterparts in the early ’80s.
For youth who are unable, or unwilling, to prolong their entry into the job market, breaking in during a downturn is an uphill battle. When Amanda, who asked that Maclean’s not use her last name, got her undergraduate degree in math last June, she wanted to get a job as an analyst. But after four months of unemployment, she took an entry-level position at a Toronto IT ﬁrm. While her friends who graduated with similar credentials just a few years earlier started out making about $40,000, she’s earning $30,000.
In fact, most young people entering the job market now are making less than peers who found jobs two or three years ago. “And that lasts for quite a while,” says Paul Beaudry, Canada Research Chair in Macroeconomics at UBC. A study of Canadian men who graduated with B.A.s over almost 20 years found that, on average, those who begin their careers in down times tend to do so at smaller firms that pay less, suffering an eight to nine per cent income hit. And it takes 10 years to catch up to those who graduated in boom times. Worse still, for those who graduated from less prestigious universities with degrees in lower-paying fields, the scarring effect on their earning potential “sort of remains permanent,” says Phil Oreopoulos, a University of Toronto economics professor who co-authored the study.
The prospects are bleaker for those without post-secondary education. “Employers out there, they’re asking for everything—the moon and the stars,” says Joan Gardener, project administrator at the Mississauga, Ont.-based Youth Community Connections, a government-funded program that serves out-of-work young people. For those who do manage to secure employment, the erosion of high-paying, middle-class manufacturing jobs means it’s tougher to get ahead. “Think about it as a career ladder with the rings in the middle all being missing,” says Morley Gunderson, an economics professor at U of T. “You don’t have a way to start at the bottom and move up anymore.”
As mature students flood unis, schools say they will not give priority to Grade 12 applicants
Ontario’s graduating high school students are facing stiffer competition for high-demand, high-employment college and university programs as workers who lost their jobs in the recession head back to school and claim the country’s coveted post-secondary education spots.
Colleges and universities will not give special priority to the Grade 12 candidates, administrators say, despite the fact they could be thrown out into a tough, recessionary job market with little or no work experience, and only a high school education if they’re not accepted. The deadline for Grade 12 students to apply to Ontario’s universities for next September is Wednesday; for colleges it is Feb. 1.
College applications overall were up by 10 per cent over the last several years, with those in areas with a high jobless rate experiencing increases of up to 50 per cent. The recession’s ravaging of the job market is pushing laid-off workers back to school and a wildly popular Ontario government program has provided many unemployed mature students with the financial means to do so.
In northern Ontario, for example, where the forestry industry’s collapse was followed by one in mining, Northern College saw applications for its four campuses jump 47 per cent last year. And that’s even before Extrada’s planned layoff of 700 people this May. In Windsor, where auto sector layoffs have battered the city, applications to St. Clair College were up by 20 per cent in 2009.
“When the economy is strong, students tend to put off going to school, going to college particularly, in favour of entering the workforce and earning some money,” said Northern College president Fred Gibbons. “When the economy turns soft as it has in 2009, students will then return to school or elect to leave high school and enter college . . . College enrolment tends to vary inversely with jobs in the economy.”
The Ontario government’s Second Career program, which provides laid off workers with up to $28,000 a year to go back to school to train for high-demand jobs, has been a huge incentive for mature students. Second Career was announced in 2008 as a $355-million, three-year program. However, it was so popular that the money was scooped up in 18 months as laid off workers headed back to school and the province pumped another $78 million into the program last October.
Recession drives the biggest spike in enrolment since 2003
Despite the shaky job market for university grads during the recession, or because of it, new enrolment figures show about 38,000 more students enrolled in Canadian universities this fall over last.
About 870,000 full-time students enrolled this year, an increase of 29,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduate students from last year, according to figures released by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
Herb O’Heron, a senior adviser at the AUCC, says it’s the biggest increase in enrolment since 2003 and the recession is driving demand for spots.
“Part of it is the recognition of the value of a degree,” he said. “Even in the midst of a recession, the jobs for university graduates continue to rise.”
Students and professors say they are encouraged by the display of faith in higher education, but remain skeptical about whether universities can deliver what they promise.
The spike in enrolment is occurring as cash-strapped governments make cuts to already underfunded universities, which, they say, degrades the quality of education for students who continue to pay sky high tuition fees.
James Turk, executive director of Canadian Association of University Teachers says while the government recognizes that education is key to economic recovery, it is not placing enough emphasis on funding.
To reach the funding level seen in the 1980s, when there were fewer university students, the government would need to increase funding by $4.2 billion a year, Turk said.
Meanwhile, as enrolment increases, universities cram students into the seats and aisles of already packed lecture halls, which degrades the quality of education students receive for their money.
Tough times don’t have to mean tough luck for M.B.A. grads, especially in Canada
A funny thing happened to Jordan Sugar this spring, as he prepared to finish his M.B.A. degree at York University’s Schulich School of Business: he got a job. And not just any job—he got one in banking.
For Sugar, who was hired by BMO to work on its trading desk, that was something of a surprise. After all, classroom chatter around Schulich about job prospects had been every bit as depressing as the economic tragedy playing out on the front pages of newspapers. “Some graduates from 1999, 2000, 2001 came in to talk to my class about graduating amid the dot-com burst and I thought, ‘My God, I couldn’t imagine finding a job in that climate,’ ” recalls Sugar. “Then I saw Lehman Bros. go under and I thought, ‘Uh-oh.’ ”
If last year’s fall of global financial titans—traditional destinations for a big chunk of graduates—seemed to make M.B.A. job prospects disappear overnight, the ensuing global recession made the outlook even more grim. At least outside of Canada. Here, the picture has turned out to be far different. The country’s banking system has held up well, avoiding the need for the large-scale bailouts seen elsewhere. That strength has translated into a sustained job market for M.B.A.s: while American business schools report a drop of as much as 50 per cent in financial sector hiring, Canadian business schools say hiring levels remain strong, though down slightly from last year’s above-normal figures.
That means recent graduates like Sugar, who thought the dream of a banking job sank along with Bear Stearns, are finding that opportunities remain, especially for the most aggressive and talented graduates. “In all the doom and gloom, you want to hear some counter-stories out there, and Canada may be one of them,” says Joseph Palumbo, executive director of the Career Development Centre at York’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.
It’s not all sunny, of course. Hiring by consultancies such as McKinsey, Deloitte & Touche and Boston Consulting Group has either dropped or remained flat—their clients tightened consulting budgets as the economy faltered. All in all, Canadian business schools report that hiring numbers so far have fallen between two and 15 per cent this year compared with 2008, when hiring was up about 10 per cent over 2007. Though firm stats will emerge this fall, schools say current hiring levels appear to be on par with those seen in 2005.
And while on the whole their performance so far in finding jobs for grads has Canadian business schools cheering, concern remains that the fretting by business schools south of the border might head their way. “The real losses in the financial sector, in New York and in London and throughout the rest of the world, have created a climate of fear that we’re acutely aware of here, even though the data in Canada does not indicate a downturn on any significant scale,” says Jeff Muzzerall, director of the Corporate Connections Centre at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Some students are saving money (and their backs) with e-texts
Like most university students heading back to school, Kerry Alvarez is preparing to make her annual donation to the campus book store.
The third-year sociology student at Hamilton’s McMaster University says she expects to shell out more than $400 on textbooks this semester alone.
“I don’t really like it,” said Alvarez, 23. “Money is really tight, especially with the economy and all.”
It’s perhaps no surprise that the dwindling bank accounts of students like Alvarez, coupled with the popularity of technology like Apple’s iPhone, has led to the emergence of a cheap alternative to the bulky tomes of days past: downloadable digital textbooks.
Download one from CourseSmart LLC, an online marketplace for digital textbooks, and you’ll gain access to a document that’s got all the charts, tables, and graphics as a physical book – for about half the price, according to the company.
The National Association of College Stores – a U.S. group that also represents 72 Canadian stores – predicts that digital textbooks, while currently representing only a tiny portion of the market, could account for 15 per cent of all university textbook sales by 2011-12.
In 2007, Montreal’s Concordia University became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to offer e-textbooks, as they’re also known, in its bookstores.
“I think it’s a very good trend,” said Colleen O’Neill, executive director of the Canadian Publishers’ Council’s higher education and trade division.
E-textbooks have been available in Canada for four or five years, mostly through pilot projects, said O’Neill. Their overall market share is currently about five to eight per cent, she said.
While there’s a good deal of optimism about the shift to electronic learning – which O’Neill believes will also reduce the publishing industry’s environmental footprint – not everyone is ready to tear down their bookshelves.
At Dal, number of students applying for need-based awards increased by 62 per cent
With summer jobs in short supply, many university and college students now face the prospect of trying to get through the school year on less money or looking for other sources of cash.
So it may not be surprising that along with the spike in the jobless rate, there’s been a corresponding rise in traffic to websites offering information on scholarships and bursaries.
At Studentawards.com, a free scholarship search service, the cumulative increase in registration was 15 per cent in July compared to last year, said Suzanne Tyson, president of Studentawards Inc., the company behind the website.
Parents’ RRSPs and the education savings plans they set up for their children have probably taken a hit amid the economic turmoil of the last year, she noted.
“(Parents) may be losing their jobs and their children aren’t finding jobs, it is leading us to believe that this fall will be difficult financially for a number of students,” she said.
The student unemployment rate was 20.9 per cent in July, according to Statistics Canada.
Matt Scriven is one of the lucky ones.
The 19-year-old was able to find work this summer, but says one of his friends in Vancouver handed out between 30 and 40 resumes and received one or two calls – and didn’t get a job. Another friend in Ottawa handed out 20 or 30 resumes, and got a job that gave him five to 10 hours a week – not really enough to help with his expenses in the coming school year, he said.
Scriven found his own eventual job as web designer for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association through a listing at Studentopolis.ca – the student jobs website he founded.
The Carleton University student started developing his website after speaking with a friend who said he wasn’t able to find an easy source to access student job listings online.
“A lot of adult workers were laid off their other jobs and now people will do pretty much any job to try and supplement their income because they’ve got families and such, so a lot of students are displaced from positions that they would otherwise have,” Scriven said from Ottawa.
It’s not all romance: wine producers must master chemistry and agriculture
Soured on the real estate market, Columbia broker Bob Walters has found what he hopes is a more fruitful pursuit: growing grapes for wine. Downsized banker Mary Becker also is dabbling in the business, planting vines on the 120 acres south of Kansas City.
The aspiring vintners recently joined more than 60 others from eight states at the University of Missouri’s first Wine School, which teaches the tools of a trade that has been growing exponentially. The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reports a 50 per cent increase in the number of U.S. wine producers from about 3,900 in 2004 to about 5,800 in 2008.
Missouri, one of the nation’s leading wine producers before Prohibition, has seen similar growth, and instructors at the University of Missouri say rising unemployment could encourage even more oenophiles to try to turn their hobby into a new career.
“I was quite blown away by how everyone around here was a backyard winemaker,” said Rebecca Ford Kapoor, a New Zealand wine maker who two years ago joined the university’s Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture & Enology.
The school, which focuses on grape growing and winemaking in the Midwest, offers a one-day introductory class and an advanced, three-day course. The one-day session includes an obligatory winery visit (Les Bourgeois in Rocheport) and wine tasting. But most of the time is devoted to laboratory sessions involving beakers and flasks, tips on cellar operations and sanitation and tutorials on identifying and preventing flaws in the winemaking process.
Becker said she and her husband went into winemaking inspired but without technical acumen.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” the Holden resident said. “It’s been a real trial and error.”
Others enrolled in Kapoor’s course quickly realized the business involved more than careering through Napa Valley in a convertible or comparing vintages in a friend’s basement cellar. Successful wine producers must master chemistry and agriculture, she said.
“People think it’s all going to be romantic,” Kapoor said. “It’s actually really hard, dirty, exhausting work.”
Most lost jobs expected to be in operations, trades, advisory and technical positions
According to The Calgary Herald, University of Calgary has announced it might have to cut up to 200 job by September.
In an internal memo circulated Tuesday, school president Harvey Weingarten says the university needs to trim its budget by at least three per cent in all units and faculties in light of a $14.3-million shortfall. By law, the university is not allowed to run a deficit.
Weingarten says the cuts have primarily been caused by poor market performance caused by the economic downturn, which has adversely affected return on endowment funds that support various programs, plus the school’s pension fund. The endowment fund is down by $40.4 million, since hitting a last year’s high of $411 million.
“A significant portion of the university budget, approximately 60 per cent, pays for the salaries and benefits of our employees,” wrote Weingarten. “Given this reality, there is simply no possibility of ensuring that a balanced budget, once achieved, is sustainable unless we reduce our number of support and academic staff.”
Weingarten says he anticipates the school will have to cut the jobs of up to 200 people by the fall and that it’s likely there will be more reductions later. He says the actual numbers will depend on many factors, such as future government grants, tuition levels, endowment performance, salary and benefit settlements.
U of C’s faculty association president Anne Stalker told the Herald that staff members are “obviously very worried” about the job cuts and the long-term affect on programs.
“It makes it a less pleasant place to work,” she said. “They also think [the university brass] haven’t been thinking ahead. They should have planned more so it didn’t take everybody by surprise.
The greatest job losses are expected to effect the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents some 4,265 university staff in operations, trades, advisory and technical positions. “Of course, we don’t like it,” says AUPE president Doug Knight.
“The university has put a lot of their shortfalls on last year’s budget. A lot of the money lost is from the worldwide financial crisis, where it was inevitable something was gonna break. Their funding shortfall is because of endowments and they really shouldn’t be relying on endowment funding.”
For more on this story, click here.
School president says she ignored rules because “so many others were doing the same thing”
In a troubled economy that has left thousands of out of work and looking to second careers, Ontario has an obligation to crack down on unregistered private career colleges run by “rogue operators,” the province’s ombudsman said Tuesday.
Andre Marin was investigating Bestech Academy, which operated out of Stoney Creek, Ont., and St. Catharines, Ont., offering gas technician technology courses.
Despite several warnings from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities that Bestech should not be operating without being registered, president June Ballegeer operated Bestech unregistered for two years, between 2006 and 2008, the report notes.
When such schools fail financially and abruptly close their doors, as Bestech did, students are left in debt with incomplete studies and little recourse, Marin said.
“Registration and program approval are the linchpins of student protection under the Private Career Colleges Act,” he said in his report.
“If a school or program is not approved, then students are out of luck,” and can try pursuing a small claims court action.
Meanwhile, the ministry actually paid – through the Ontario Skills Development Program – for some students to attend, allowing Bestech to “line its pockets with public funds while flouting the law,” Marin said in the report.
“I’m concerned about its systemic failure to enforce the rules governing private colleges – to the point that Bestech’s president told us that she essentially ignored them because so many others were doing the same thing,” Marin said at a press conference.
“The fact is, the ministry has never laid a charge or prosecuted an illegal college.”
The ministry said 23 colleges have closed since new legislation came into effect in 2006, 15 of them regulated, eight unregulated, after “some interaction” with the ministry.
Marin could not estimate the number of illegal colleges in the province, but said it is “significant,” and that Bestech is certainly not alone. The situation takes on an even greater urgency in the economic downturn, he said.
For students 20 to 24, unemployment hits 14 per cent, the highest rate since 1997
In this story, published today, The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Church has some great anecdotes about students who are struggling in summer 2009′s tough job market.
Her article is timely, considering two studies that were recently released.
In Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey, the agency found that compared with June 2008, employment was down 43,000 for students aged 20 to 24 in June 2009. That means their unemployment jumped 4.8 percentage points to 14 per cent, which is the highest June unemployment rate for these students since 1997.
StatsCan also found that the labour market for 17 to 19-year-old students is slumping. Employment for this age group was down 50,000 between June of 2008 and 2009. That brings their unemployment rate to 18.1 per cent, the highest since June 1998.
In another report released last February, the Educational Policy Institute predicted rising youth unemployment will add more than 105,000 new borrowers to the Canada Student Loan Program in the next three years. The study found that a one per cent rise in youth unemployment increases the demand for student loans by about six per cent.