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Job prospects for recent grads in Toronto starting to improve as employment rate shrinks

Those who graduated in Toronto last year into a turbulent economy with high student loans and little certainty are finally entering an era with more jobs and a low unemployment rate.

Even as experts warn that future gains may become increasingly difficult, the Canadian economy cranked out another month of job growth, bringing the national unemployment rate to a pandemic-era low at 6.7 percent.

This is a monumental turnaround from a year ago when many of Toronto's post-secondary graduates first entered the job market.

By late last year, close to 450,000 job seekers had been without work for six months or more, Statistics Canada reported

Harman Wadhwa, a former computer science major at the University of Toronto graduated in June 2020 with no job offers and says that several companies froze recruitment. 

"I had hoped to work with big tech companies but graduated without a job lined up. And to add salt to the wound, my convocation ceremony was an hour-long YouTube video, where my name appeared on a list," he says. 

It eventually took Wadhwa four months to land a job with a start-up. 

"Without the pandemic, I would have had a handful of offers lined up while I was still at university," he says. "In any other scenario, working at a start-up would have been far from my first choice."

In a recent poll of 1,000 unemployed Canadians, more than half indicated they would take any job to help pay the bills, and two-thirds said they were seeking work in a different profession. Around 55 per cent have reduced their pay expectations.

According to The Harris Poll, which conducted the study for Express Employment Professionals, 62 per cent blamed COVID-19 for being jobless after several months, and while the majority still wanted to find work, about 20 per cent had given up looking.

For Wadhwa, the key to surviving the shaky job market was persistence and patience. After working with his start-up for 10 months, he started having more luck with his job applications.

"A recruiter from one of the big four tech companies reached out to me with an opportunity several months ago," he says. 

He is now employed as a software development engineer with Amazon Web Services. 

"At least, for the time being, it looks like there are blue skies ahead," he says. 

There are still college graduates, however, who are struggling with the job market. 

Ayse Yilmaz, a Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Toronto has struggled to obtain a steady, full-time job since her graduation in the summer of 2020. 

"For me, the job search has been difficult, tiring, and demotivating. I haven't been able to find that a job that is stable enough and have been relying on government help for my finances."

"It's been very stressful managing part-time jobs with a job search that never stopped."

Lead photo by

University of Toronto

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