Calgary's youth job fair draws 1,000 to Stampede Big Four

Calgarians ages 15 to 24 lined up outside the Stampede Big Four Building beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, dressed to impress for an on-the-spot interview with their pick of more than 80 employers.

Economic downturn has made it tougher for those 15 to 24 to find a job, says city spokesperson

Youth began lining up five-and-a-half hours early to gain entry to the 18th annual hiring fair, which aims to connect people ages 15 to 24 with potential employers. (City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre)

Roughly 1,000 young Calgarians lined up outside the Stampede Big Four Building beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, dressed to impress for an on-the-spot interview.

The hopeful job seekers were there to pitch dozens of potential employers from a variety of different sectors as part of the City of Calgary's 18th annual youth hiring fair, which runs from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The event aims to connect people ages 15 to 24 who may have limited job experience with summer jobs, career practicums, part-time and full-time opportunities.

Bad economy hurts youth job prospects

Jennifer Gee, spokesperson for the city's Youth Employment Centre, said the economic downturn has tightened the youth job market in Calgary.

"With more than 80 employers here, youth are taking advantage of the opportunity to make connections that could lead them towards the start of their career."

Gee said the fair usually draws more than 5,000 people, and this year is no exception.

She said this year there are more than 1,000 positions to be filled.

Hannah Belischak, an 18-year-old nutrition student, attended the fair with the hope of finding a summer job in the fitness industry. (CBC)

SAIT nutrition student Hannah Belischak hopes to land one of them.

"It'll be tough today," she said.

"There are a lot of people out there, and they're all going to be pushing for those jobs, because of the economy right now."

Still, she is optimistic that her nutrition background will give her a leg up as she tries to find a summer job in the fitness industry.

Layoffs could improve applicant pool

RCMP Const. Erika McGrattan said the downturn could be a good thing for potential employers. 

In the past, we may have lost a few really good candidates that would've been great police officers because of the influence of their high-paying jobs in the oil field," she said.

Const. Erika McGrattan wants youth to understand as early as possible what the RCMP is looking for in a good police officer. (CBC)

"Possibly now with those people losing their jobs, maybe that's giving us a good pool to be able to apply to this type of job."

She said the RCMP is trying to let young people know as early as possible what it takes to be a good police officer. 

"We talk about life experiences, volunteering, being a role model in the community, volunteer experiences, leadership skills, things like that," she said.

"If we start getting that in people's minds now, that they need to go out there, go out to the community, do some things that help them be able to be the greatest police officer that they can, then that's fabulous."

An estimated 1,000 young people lined up early to get inside the Stampede Big Four Building, with the queue winding around the outdoor parking lot. (CBC)

With files from Geneviève Normand


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