By Lianelle Barraza, February 2 2016 —
Job losses in Alberta continue to mount. With the province facing a seven per cent unemployment rate, job prospects are uncertain, especially for students and recent graduates.
According to University of Calgary career services manager Colleen Bangs, there has been a sharp increase in the number of students seeking help from the career centre.
“Since classes began for Winter term we have seen double the students that were coming through our centre at this time in 2015,” Bangs said.
The youth unemployment rate has surged from 8.2 per cent last year to just under 13 per cent this year, according to Stats Canada.
“The biggest difference is that the environment is more competitive and students need to reframe their expectations and consider options such as relocation or the transferability of their skill set,” Bangs said.
However, Bangs sees a silver lining in the otherwise grim jobs market.
“The current market is an opportunity in many ways because it requires job seekers to be innovative, do their research and build strong professional networks.”
U of C economics professor Trevor Tombe is less optimistic. He said that Alberta’s shaky economy puts students and new graduates in a tough spot.
“The situation for fresh graduates depends entirely on what field they hope to work in. Clearly during a commodity slump, engineers hoping to work in the resource sector are particularly hard hit,” Tombe said. “The downturn in oil and gas has hit employment in exploration and drilling activities the hardest.”
Tombe said the difficulties force many to settle for part-time employment.
“Alberta had an above-average economy before and now we are experiencing what an average one feels like,” Tombe said. “The sky is not falling, but the boom time is clearly over.”
Tombe said it is hard to tell how long it will be before Alberta is able to bounce back. Despite the cutbacks in oil and gas employment, there have been increases in other sectors.
“During 2015, employment grew in health and education occupations,” Tombe said. “There are also expanding opportunities in public administration, which has grown by nearly 12,000.”