Students contribute to competitive job market due to inflated expenses

May 16, 2024 | Biz/Tech, News

Statistics Canada published the Labour Force Survey 2024, which reported a stable Canadian employment rate at 61.4 per cent following six consecutive monthly declines on May 10.

The employment rate increased by 0.4 per cent to 90,000 in April 2024, with part-time employment adding 50,000 jobs (+1.4 per cent).

Employment rose in April in professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and natural resources but fell in the utilities sector.

Employment grew in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick in April, while other provinces experienced slight fluctuations.

Rutvi Shah, operations manager at Humber Campus Bookstores, said she observed more young people applying for part-time jobs, leading to increasing competition in the job market.

“This country is a land of opportunities,” Shah said. “I think now more than ever, there are many young people in the job market. So sure, there is a lot of competition with the number of people applying for the jobs.”

A Trading Economics report shows a rise in the part-time employment rate in April 2024 is the most significant increase since February 2022.

Shah said there are a lot of challenges with the high number of people applying for part-time jobs.

“It’s always a numbers game. It’s a probability,” Shah said. “The more jobs you apply for, the higher your chances of getting one somewhere.”

According to Indeed, part-time employment is generally considered under 30 hours a week and appropriate for students and people aged 15 to 24.

Manjashandeep Kaur, an International Business Management student at Humber, works part-time as a security guard at Pearson Airport for 20 hours per week.

“I’m a student. I’m only allowed to work 20 hours weekly,” Kaur said. “We need more money to live, and 20 hours is not enough for my expenses.”

Colten James, a domestic student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at The University of British Columbia, works part-time in healthcare for around 24 hours per week.

James said working part-time helps him to have more time for himself and, at the same time, learn more practical skills in his major.

“A part-time job allows me to have more time for myself outside of work,” James said. “This helps with my work-life balance and makes me happier. Furthermore, the less I can work, the better I am overall.”

“The only disadvantage is it’s not earning enough income sometimes and becoming disconnected from the work culture,” James said.

Shah said the rate increases because many young people want to gain more experience early and pursue more opportunities.

High living expenses are another reason people seek part-time jobs as one income is not enough for everybody.

“People are working two or three jobs at a time just to pay their bills,” she said.

She said many people are going for education and want to gain experience from the beginning, which is also a cause contributing to this phenomenon.

“They are not doing their degree or studying more and then getting into the job field now,” she said. “They start getting into the job field very early, and the number has significantly increased from that perspective.”

Shah noticed that many students came in looking for opportunities to work on campus part-time at Humber Campus Bookstores, especially during the fall semester intake.

Students like James and Kaur are balancing their work life in different ways.

“I prioritize my schooling over my work as it’s more crucial for my future. Savings are important as they act as a buffer when I cannot work,” James said.

On the other hand, Kaur said balancing work and study is the toughest part for her.

“When I work as a security at Pearson Airport, dealing with airline passengers while standing is the worst part. It makes me tired a lot,” Kaur said.

She said it was difficult to handle everything at the proper time as she came to class directly from her morning shift at 6 a.m. and arrived at 11 a.m. as usual.

James said the income from part-time work is helpful and a comfort factor for his life, while Kaur said it’s barely adequate to maintain her daily expenses.

“They’re good enough to manage for basic needs but not enough to fulfill all my needs properly,” she said. “I have to balance everything like rent and groceries.”

Kaur expects employers to understand the schedules of part-time student employees better.

“For students like us, we have different timing,” she said. “I’m working only in the daytime, but I also have my college, so I’m available on the weekends. They can give me my work during that time.”

For James, he said he is happy at work and wants to gain more experience from his job.

“I only expect the employers to offer more incentives such as increased wages and health benefits, which would improve worker happiness, retention, and likely productivity,” he said.

Shah said that from a business perspective, networking is the most important thing for anyone seeking a job.

“The more people you know, the more connections you make, the better it is,” she said. “One of the things that can help somebody land a job is always a referral and leaving a good impression when you meet people. That is something very important in Canada.”