Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Jobs: Engineering Students Face Tough Market in Wake of Oil Downturn

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Jobs: Engineering Students Face Tough Market in Wake of Oil Downturn

Article excerpt

Engineering students face tough market


CALGARY - Shady Hashem travelled part way around the world to study as a mine engineer in Canada, at times paying triple the local tuition and working at a call centre to put himself through school, only to graduate in one of the worst job markets in recent memory.

"There's no jobs," says Hashem, 28.

"I talk to a lot of engineers, and the expected time to get a job is between six months and a year."

He came to Calgary to look for work after finishing classes at Halifax's Dalhousie University in December, hoping to find something in Alberta's oilsands with his co-op work experience at Syncrude last summer. But postings are slim, and he hasn't heard anything back after applying for 50 or so jobs in recent weeks.

"I'm applying everywhere, but I haven't heard back from anybody yet, not even an email that says: 'Sorry, this position has been filled,'" said Hashem. "That's very frustrating."

Hashem, originally from Egypt but now a permanent resident of Canada, is one of the many recent engineering grads who are struggling to find jobs as the oil-and-gas industry continues to slash jobs in the aftermath of the global oil price plunge.

Those still in school looking for work experience also face a daunting market as summer approaches.

Colleen Bangs, manager of career services at the University of Calgary, says only about a third of the 659 engineering students at the school have found placements for their year-long internships as companies cut back on campus recruitment.

"Something I've noticed, particularly in this last semester, is that there's a bit of an impending feeling of doom," said Bangs.

That's in stark contrast to the situation just a couple years ago, when the industry was booming.

"It was just a very different climate. Employers were racing to make offers," said Bangs. "Whereas now it's a bit more sombre to be totally honest. It's a lot slower, much like we're seeing in the general marketplace."

Several companies are cutting back on student hirings. Suncor says it's reduced hiring compared with recent years without giving specifics, while Cenovus Energy says it isn't hiring any students at all for now, paid or unpaid. …

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