Would-be summer students waiting by the phone in the Northwest Territories could get a pleasant call in the near future.

Premier Bob McLeod has written to all departments of the territorial government, urging them to bring on more students.

The territory had hired 217 summer students by the end of last week, compared to 246 by mid-to-late May 2015. The government hired a total of 341 summer students in 2015.

In the legislature, Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu — the former minister of human resources — wanted to know if budget cuts are the reason for this year's drop.

Human resources minister Glen Abernethy said that is not the case.

"The premier would like to see us hire as many students as we did last year," said Abernethy.

"We are certainly down from where we were last year. As a result, the premier has sent a reminder letter to all the ministers and the deputies … indicating that we have to get our numbers up.

"The summer is not over. We are still looking to hire and we will continue to hire. We will work hard to reach last year's numbers."

The territorial government maintains a central database of student resumes, but individual departments each hold responsibility for their own hiring.

On Monday, Abernethy said departments had to make sure summer students had "meaningful work" to do before hiring them.