SEED program changes again

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At a press conference on January 21, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor Trevor Holder stated that the Student Employment Experience Development program (SEED) has undergone changes yet again. 

Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Trevor Holder. (CBC/Website)

How it works

The program offers funding for student summer positions by offering companies financial assistance in covering the labor costs. In previous years, both students and employers applied for a voucher. If you received a voucher by random selection, you were able to apply to organizations that also had a voucher. 

What’s been changed?

One major change to this program is that 200 student positions have been cut from the existing 1,400 last year. In 2018, there were 2,000 positions available. 

The second change has been to the appointment process. Rather than being chosen by random selection, each MLA chooses 21 placements within their riding. 

Potential employers are now limited to First Nations, non-profits, and municipalities.

What does this mean for students?

The process has now changed so that students do not apply through the SEED program for vouchers. Instead, they wait for the list of SEED employers to become available and apply directly to them. 

Community backlash

According to UNB-SRC president and CEO Patrick Hickey, this is representative of political instability within post-secondary education programs. He sees the first step of prioritizing students is establishing a clear vision and maintaining some consistency. 

He’s also worried about the potential political aspects of including MLAs in the decision-making process. “To me, that’s something that is really important to students.” 

The other concern being raised is that no student groups were consulted during this decision process. Hickey says he found out after the fact, which he views as a clear sign that students are losing control. 

Hickey isn’t the only one with concerns. Kjeld-Mizpah Conyers-Steede of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) has spoken out about issues with the new system. “Student issues are being ignored and convoluted in a system that prioritizes political wins over resolving the real concerns of students” said Steede in an interview with CBC. 

The program remains available to students entering a post-secondary program in the fall of 2020.