Students get short end of the stick in Sudbury.

Jan 10, 2012

Students get short end of the stick in Sudbury.

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"Are you a student, or do you - you know, have a 'real' job?"


For as long as I am able to remember, Sudburians have pondered where the new and fresh faces of youth leaders are? Why youth simply aren't as involved in an extensive list of initiatives or workforces? With new job creation programs from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines as well as CAP programs and other government funded initiatives, the strain on young people to gain meaningful experience working in professional fields has declined; but, not without adversity and certainly not capitalizing on the broadest range of candidates available in the market.

We live in  a city with 2 publicly funded colleges, and one public university with 3 federated universities under its umbrella. Yet, with such a large student body for a Northern Ontario community, students are treated as either sources of free or severely cheap labour for short term contracts. A common sentiment among public services pits students in contrast with permanent staff members as consistently lesser in terms of merit and work ability. Here we have an enormous body of potential workers, some that have graduated from college or university programs and are just pursuing further education to enhance their angle and look better on paper, and yet, when their resumes pop up in the pile, they are shuffled back to the bottom of the stack or disregarded entirely. There in lies the biggest area of contention: workplaces see students as a marker of inexperience, a burdensome need to work around schedule conflicts and as disposable workers with high turn around.

When push comes to shove, Ottawa and Toronto attract these students from communities across the North - take a look on the Service Canada Job Bank website and you will quickly see why - leaving Sudbury and other communities vacant of skilled workers; who, when given the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills become valuable assets and build long-term stability in workplaces. The innovation that this generation has to offer is being sucked out of Sudbury by vacancies in other cities; other cities with organizations which have figured out that there is a recruitment pool of skilled workers desperate to have their 'in'. If Sudbury is ever to achieve its long-term goals of becoming a world-class Canadian city, it's going to need a stable base of experienced, skilled workers to take over the reigns of the previous generation. But, in order to do this, Sudbury will need to embrace its students, stop being so cynical of its youth and take a risk on student candidates for positions - you know... 'real' jobs.