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Study: Pathways from education to the labour market among Canadian youth

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The Daily

Thursday, November 1, 2007

This study maps the various pathways that young people have taken from high school through to regular participation in the labour market.

It links this transition to important background characteristics, in addition to highlighting the pathways that lead to successful transitions to employment.

The study, conducted in partnership with Canadian Policy Research Networks, used data from the longitudinal Youth in Transition Survey for 2004. As a result, the labour market experiences of young adults were assessed as of December 2003, when they were between 22 and 24 years of age. (Youth who were still in school at the time of the survey were not included in the analysis.)

The study identified 10 prominent pathways between education and the labour market, with different pathways being associated with different labour market outcomes.

For example, median weekly earnings across all jobs worked by youth aged 22 to 24 in December 2003 were $503. On average, college and university graduates (regardless of whether they had delayed postsecondary attendance following high school graduation) earned more than the median.

High school dropouts (whether or not they had returned to school) and young people who had entered but did not complete a postsecondary program earned less than the median.

However, some university graduates were earning less than high school dropouts. Part of the reason for this is that university graduates would have had less time in the labour market to gain work experience—and the accompanying earnings premium—than youth who had dropped out before completing high school.

The report also documents the characteristics of the individuals following each path. For example, young women were less likely than young men to follow the pathway of dropping out of high school, and were more likely to go on to some type of postsecondary program prior to entering the labour force. They were also less likely than males to delay the start of a postsecondary program.

Marks matter. A very strong relationship was found between grade-point average and dropping out of high school: youth with very low marks in high school were much more likely than those with average to high marks to drop out and not return. Very high marks predicted that the teen would go directly to a postsecondary program after high school rather than delaying.

Note: The Youth in Transition Survey (YITS) is a longitudinal survey that first collected data from two age groups of youth in the first cycle of the survey in 2000. One group began participating at age 15 (Cohort A), and the other at ages 18 to 20 (Cohort B). The focus of the analysis in this report is on the second group. Both cohorts were asked to provide a range of information on their education and employment experiences, as well as information on their personal characteristics, for example, their educational aspirations. The first follow-up interview with the YITS participants took place in early 2002. At that time, Cohort B participants were between the ages of 20 and 22. The second follow-up interview took place in 2004, for the reference period December 2003, when Cohort B participants were aged 22 to 24.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4435.

The report, "Education-to-Labour Market Pathways of Canadian Youth: Findings from the Youth in Transition Survey", part of the Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics - Research Papers (81-595-MIE2007054, free), is now available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; fax: 613-951-4441), Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics.