Chapter 6

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This report has highlighted several findings relevant for understanding the profile and labour market outcomes of doctoral graduates from Ontario universities.

Ontario accounted for four out of ten Canadian graduates in 2005, slightly more than its share of the Canadian population. Although women were still clustered in traditionally female disciplines in 2005, proportionately more Ontario women were granted a degree in life sciences, while fewer had chosen the humanities than in previous cohorts.

Compared to other provinces, Ontario had more doctoral graduates whose mother tongue was a non-official language. Moreover, the proportion of allophones earning a doctorate in Canada has grown continuously over the past 20 years. Both in Ontario and outside the province, their proportions doubled between the Classes of 1995 and 2005, rising from 16% to 34% in Ontario and from 14% to 28% in other provinces.

Notwithstanding the reduction in full-time tenured or tenure-track positions in Canadian universities, about two-thirds (65%) of Ontario graduates pursued a PhD to become university professors, a proportion that was higher than was the case for graduates in other provinces by 7 percentage points (58%).

The majority of graduates who planned to move to the United States at the time of graduation also intended to take a postdoctoral position, the proportions standing at 67% in the case of Ontario graduates and 81% for graduates from other provinces.

Furthermore, a higher proportion of Ontario graduates who had moved to the United States after graduation had returned to Canada than was the case for movers from the other provinces. Ontario "returnees" accounted for 27% of those who had moved south of the border after graduation, compared to 21% of movers from other provinces.

In 2007, two years after graduation, nine out of ten doctoral graduates were working either as salaried employees or as self-employed workers. The median earnings of Ontario graduates who worked full-time was $5,500 higher than the earnings of their counterparts who graduated in other provinces. This earning differential reflected the higher wages in the general working population in Ontario compared to most other provinces at that time.

Contrary to their counterparts from other provinces, women graduates from Ontario earned as much as men, at $67,000 and $68,000 respectively. What is more, graduates who lived and worked in Canada two years after graduation earned substantially more than those who worked in the United States. This earning disparity may well be related to the postdoctoral intentions of movers to the United States.

The public sector remained the primary employer of new doctoral graduates in Canada in 2007, as more than three-quarters found employment in educational services (58% for Ontario and 55% for graduates from other provinces), health care and social assistance (13% for both groups) and public administration (7% for both groups).

This report has also highlighted the fact that fewer graduates from the Class of 2005 were working in the manufacturing sector than the previous two cohorts, a result of the structural changes in the Canadian economy during the 10 years covered by the study.

Future iterations of the NGS could better inform us on the role of economic cycles related to the labour market outcomes of doctoral graduates. The Class of 2010, in particular, may have been impacted by the economic downturn that began in October 2008. It took a full 28 months for employment in the country to recover to its October 2008 level, that is, until the beginning of 2011. What types of job prospects were available to this cohort of doctoral graduates? How well did new entrants integrate into the labour force?  While full-time and part-time employment recovered at the end of 2010, full-time employment did not recover as swiftly as part-time employment. Did this lead to more underemployment for doctoral graduates?

These are but a few of the many questions for which the next NGS could provide some answers.

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