Students in New Brunswick have until midnight to apply for the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program.
The provincial program provides funding to create about 1,900 summer jobs for university students and high school graduates between May and September.
Last year there was criticism of how the program worked, with employers and politicians complaining it was unclear and unfair.
However this year, Donald Arseneault, the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, said improvements have been made.
"Last year ... it was first-come, first-serve and we didn't feel that was a fair system," he told Information Morning Moncton.
After consulting with student groups, changes have been made to the way the student vouchers and funding is allocated.
"It will be an electronic draw," Arseneault said, "Just to show that politics is really out of the choosing of the students receiving vouchers — so that is a major difference happening in the program."
Valuable work experience the goal
Arseneault said other changes include funding for about 300 more positions than last year, specifically for museums, libraries and tourist information centres.
Our museums ... they had more difficulty finding students so we guaranteed them that they would get a student. That's over and above the 1,600 positions for SEED that we had," he said.
"We're looking forward to making sure that the students are getting good employment in the summer and hopefully in the field of study for them to gain that valuable experience."
Arseneault says students have until midnight Friday to apply online for the SEED program and those who are chosen in the draw should receive their employment vouchers beginning next week.
"[Students] will be able to go on to the list of employers and hopefully they can find employment real soon."
University students will receive 10 weeks of funding while college and high school graduates receive 8 weeks.
Program aimed at students, not employers
Arseneault stressed that the SEED program is to help students gain experience in their field of study, not to provide inexpensive labour for employers.
He said he challenges anyone hoping to hire a student to make their work experience as attractive as possible.
"If you're wondering why students are not going to your place for work, well, maybe you've got to change your responsibilities of the job description," Arseneault suggested.
"What we're trying to do is if you're studying to be an accountant at the University of Moncton, well maybe you can find a job where you can do some book keeping ... that's what we're looking for."
Arseneault said the goal is for students to have relevant work experience when they graduate and begin looking for employment in New Brunswick.
"When the students are done their studies that they can say when they knock on an employer's door and say, 'I do have a year or a year and a half work experience.'"
Arseneault said between federal and provincial student employment programs he expects most students who are looking for work will find a job this summer.