Pitala Sairam is facing a dilemma six months of relocating to Canada. Like many international students, he is now grappling with the harsh reality of not having a part-time job amid increasing inflation.
“It’s very tough here,” said Sairam, a Business Management student at Conestoga College.
The situation in the job market seems to be so bad that some employers are posting signs advertising that they are “not hiring” due in part to the influx of international students asking for jobs. In a Facebook group for Waterloo Region, a user named Scott Andrew Jones posted a photo of the “not hiring” sign and comments came flooding in. “Over 100 resumes stacked up from last week, it’s a good sign to have,” a comment read.
Although the unemployment rate in Canada remained steady at 5.5% in August after three months of increases, many students say they’re still struggling. Canada’s Labour Force Survey has found that the employment rate among students is just 64.3%. Students with their resumes in hand are seen in stores and restaurants asking for jobs, and they tend to apply on different online sites, like Indeed.
“Early morning, I apply on Indeed, and in the day I visit stores, but it seems like I am not lucky enough to get hired,” says Sabin Gautam, a student of Digital Solution Management at Conestoga. He is also looking on social media seeking a job, but no matter the platforms he uses, the replies are the disappointingly same: “We aren’t hiring.”
Students are also commuting to other cities, just for a part-time job. As per Statistics Canada, four out of five workers were commuting to a location outside their home. Sairam is one such student who commuted. He commuted to Stratford, Ont., spending $25 daily, to work for a place where he was paid $15.5 per hour.
Inflation in Canada is also hitting hard in the face of students; it’s currently hovering around 4%, which is higher than the long-term average of 3.15%.
Many international students look to their Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), a fixed-term savings with interest, to pay their groceries and rent, but it is still insufficient. Richie Giju, pursuing Global Resource Management at Conestoga, emphasizes, “I can’t think of surviving without GIC here, but I need to find a job soon.”
Job vacancies in Canada also see a continuous downward trend from June 2022. Accommodation and food service reached the lowest level since January 2020, whereas retail trade recorded the lowest vacancies since January 2021, meaning even fewer job opportunities.
The growing number of international students is adding extra pressure to the job market. Canada is expected to have 900,000 international students hosted in 2023, an increase of over 93,000 students from 2022.
Comparison between the flow of international students, inflation and unemployment rate in Canada in recent years. Infographic: Anish/Conestoga.
Pitala Sairam, student at Conestoga, commutes to Stratford for part time job. Photo: Anish/Conestoga
Richie Giju came to Canada on August and has been looking job since then, but he hasn’t found a single one yet. Photo: Anish/Conestoga
Students at Conestoga Downtown Campus. Photo: Anish/Conestoga