New Brunswick announced changes to its student experience development program on Tuesday.
The Student Employment Experience Development program — better known as SEED — helps students find jobs after graduating.
Trevor Holder, the province’s post-secondary education minister, announced that the application process will see employers apply online and then the department of post-secondary education will determine eligibility.
Vouchers will no longer be required and students will apply directly to employers.
Holder said he hopes the changes will boost community development and fine-tune the program to focus on non-profit organizations, municipalities and First Nations communities.
MLAs will provide input and recommendations based on the priorities of their electoral districts.
“Each member of the legislature, regardless of their political stripe, will be allowed to recommend 22 placements to the program based on the priorities of his or her region,” he said.
“Employers whose applications are approved will find out in mid-March, and their job postings will then go online at NBSeed.ca.“
The program will still receive $5.5 million in funding but will offer 200 fewer spots.
Student groups are calling the plan a positive one, but they’re also concerned about the process leading to Tuesday’s announcement.
Patrick Hickey, president and CEO of the University of New Brunswick Saint John’s Students’ Representative Council, said the government did not consult with students or student groups before making the changes.
He said giving MLAs the power to influence which businesses are approved for the program puts politics ahead of students.
“It could easily become very political what organizations MLAs choose to support,” Hickey said.
“At the end of the day, that comes as a cost to students. And so, we want to make sure that any program changes, any programs, are student-focused, and are taking into account what kind of work students are looking for.”
Hickey said he also wants the government to reverse cuts to financial aid programs.
— With files from Megan Yamoah