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    Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics: Research Papers

    Graduating in Canada: Profile, Labour Market Outcomes and Student Debt of the Class of 2009-2010 - Revised

    Section 2
    Educational and Labour market activities after graduation

    One of the primary functions of the Canadian education system is to prepare students for success in the labour market. Over the past number of years, there has been an increasing demand from employers of even higher levels of educational attainment. The majority of graduates either pursue further education or enter into the labour market. The National Graduates Survey looks at educational and labour market activities of graduates after completing their education.

    Almost half of bachelor graduates pursued further education within three years of graduation

    As this was the first graduating NGS class after the economic downturn, it is important to look at the proportion of graduates who pursued further postsecondary education within three years of graduation in 2009-2010 as one measure of the transferability of their skills in the labour market. Bachelor graduates were the most likely to have pursued further education, at 49%, followed by college graduates (35%), master graduates (32%) and earned doctorate graduates (16%). (Chart 2.1) More than one-quarter (28%) of bachelor graduates completed the program they pursued after graduation compared with 17% of college graduates, 13% of master and 7% of doctorate graduates.

    Description for chart 2.1

    Notes on the calculation of employment and unemployment rate

    It is not recommended to make comparisons of employment or unemployment rates presented in this report with other data sources due to the population definition used for reporting labour market outcomes.

    In this report, the focus for the labour market activities section is on those who did not pursue further education within three years of graduation and consequently the denominator for employment does not include those who pursued further education after graduation. This is in contrast to standard calculation of employment rates where those in school may or may not also be part of the denominator (depending on whether or not they said they were available for work). This difference in the denominator may explain higher employment rates in the NGS compared with the Labour Force Survey (LFS) or National Household Survey (NHS).

    Similarly, because the unemployment rates presented in this report exclude those who returned to school within three years of graduation, the unemployment rate may be lower than that seen in other sources.

    The population who returned to school within three years of graduation are not included in the labour market outcomes for the NGS in order to examine the relationship with the level and field of study taken in 2009-2010 and provide a direct link between the most recent level/program of education and labour market outcomes. This approach allows for comparisons between different groups within the NGS (for example gender, age groups, levels of education and fields of study) rather than between sources.

    Graduates had relatively high employment rates across all levels of education

    Generally speaking, higher employment rates are associated with higher levels of education. Most graduates who had not returned to school within three years of their studies had relatively high employment rates ranging from 90% among college graduates to 93% for doctorate graduates. (Appendix table A.4)

    While overall employment rates were similar for men and women, full-time employment was higher among men and part-time employment was higher among women

    As shown in Chart 2.2, employment rates were only slightly higher among men compared with women. At the bachelor level, the difference in employment rates between men and women was only three percentage points (93% for men compared with women 90%). However, larger differences were evident when comparing the full-time employment rates of men and women. At the doctorate level, 88% of men were employed full-time compared with 80% of women. The largest difference in full-time employment occurred among college graduates where 88% of men were employed full-time compared with 76% of women.

    Women were more likely to work part-time compared with men. For example, 14% of female college graduates worked part-time compared with 4% of male college graduates. This represented the greatest difference in the proportion of those working part-time between the sexes at any level.

    Description for chart 2.2

    As shown in Table 2.1, about one-quarter of college (27%) and bachelor graduates (24%) who were working part-time reported that they were doing so involuntarily. This proportion was lower for master and doctorate holders (14% and 11% respectively). Although doctorate graduates were the least likely to be working part-time involuntarily, their part-time employment rate (8%) was equal to bachelor graduates (8%). (Table 2.1 and Appendix table A.4)

    Doctorate graduates were more likely to be working in a non-permanent position

    Doctorate graduates were much more likely than any other to be working in a job that was not permanent (38%) three years after graduation compared with graduates from other levels of education. However, the proportion of doctorate graduates working in temporary positions was much higher among those working in post-doctorate positions than non-post-doctorate positions. Doctorates working in post-doctorate positions were almost three times as likely to report working in a non-permanent job at 77% compared with 28% of doctorates in non-post-doctorate positions. These higher rates may be attributed to the types of occupations that doctorates typically pursue. For example, the majority (57%) of doctorates who were working in non-post doctorate temporary positions were working as ‘university professors and post-secondary assistants’ and until tenured, these jobs tend to be temporary.

    Among graduates at all levels, master and doctorate graduates were the most likely to report that they held the job that they had hoped for after graduation

    The NGS also measured the proportion of graduates who reported that their occupation three years after graduation was the job they had hoped to hold after graduation. (Table 2.1 above and Appendix table A.8) This proportion was generally higher among higher levels of education, however bachelor graduates were less likely than college graduates to report their job being the one they hoped for after graduation at 61% compared with 64%. This gap was more pronounced for men with 56% of bachelor graduates reporting their job being the one they had hoped for compared with 62% for college graduates. A large proportion of master (73%) and doctorate (74%) graduates reported their job being the one they had hoped for after graduation, however still about one-quarter of people with either of these high levels of education reported that their job was not the one they hoped for after graduation (27% for master graduates and 26% for doctorate graduates). 

    A higher proportion of graduates pursued further education in fields of study where there were lower employment rates

    Less than half of graduates in 2009-2010 pursued further education after graduation with the proportion varying from 49% among bachelor graduates to 16% of doctorates. (Appendix table A.1) However, as shown in Chart 2.3.1, there may be a relationship between employment rates and the proportion returning to school after graduation by field of study. There are many reasons a graduate may return to school, including increasing educational requirements to meet demand from employers, personal interest or difficulties in the labour market.

    At the bachelor level, graduates with the highest proportions of those who pursued education after graduation had lower than average employment rates. (Chart 2.3.1 and Appendix tables A.2 and A.5).

    The fields of study at the bachelor level where a higher percentage of graduates pursued further education were in ‘biological and biomedical sciences’ (77%), ‘psychology’ (75%) and ‘mathematics and statistics’ (71%). Graduates in these fields also had below the overall average employment rates ranging from 86% to 90% compared with 92% at the bachelor level overall. Similarly, graduates in ‘physical and life sciences, and technologies’ (70%) and ‘humanities’ (61%) also had high proportions of pursuing further education (compared with the average of 49%) and below the overall average employment rates (87% and 84% respectively).

    Description for chart 2.3.1

    A similar pattern is followed at the master level as shown in Chart 2.3.2 and Appendix tables A.2 and A.5.  For example at the master level, ‘physical and life sciences, and technologies’ (54%), and ‘visual and performing arts, and communications technologies’ (39%) graduates had higher than average rates of returning to school (compared with the overall average for a master graduate of 32%) and lower than average employment rates (86% for ‘visual and performing arts, and communications technologies’ and 89% for ‘physical and life sciences, and technologies’ compared with the overall employment rate for a master graduate of 92%). On the other hand, ‘architecture, engineering, and related technologies’ (26%) and ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ (27%) graduates had lower than the average rate of those pursuing further education (32%) and higher than average employment rates (96% and 95% respectively).

    Description for chart 2.3.2

    College and bachelor graduates were less likely to report that their job matched their education than master and doctorate graduates

    One of the measures of job quality in the NGS is the extent to which graduates described their occupation held during the reference week in 2013 as related to their qualification completed in 2009-2010. As shown in Chart 2.4, college graduates had a similar likelihood of reporting a ‘close’ or ‘somewhat close’ relationship between their job and education at 81% compared with 80% of bachelor graduates. According to university graduates, the extent to which their job matched their education was higher at each level with 92% and 96% of master and doctorate graduates reporting their job was ‘closely’ or ‘somewhat’ related to their education.

    As with previous NGS cohorts, women reported a somewhat better match between education and occupation, especially among master graduates where 94% of women reported their job was ‘closely’ or ‘somewhat’ related to their education compared with 90% of men. (Appendix table A.6)

    Description for chart 2.4

    There were also differences by field of study in the proportions of job-education match (Appendix table A.7). Among college graduates, a higher proportion of graduates in the following fields of study indicated that their job was ‘closely’ or ‘somewhat’ related to their education: ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ (88%), ‘education’ (88%), ‘social and behavioural sciences and law’ (86%) and ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’ (83%). On the other hand, the proportion of graduates who reported that their job was ‘not at all’ related to their diploma was highest among the following fields of study: ‘humanities’ (59%), ‘visual and performing arts and communication technologies’ (38%), and ‘personal, protective and transportation services’ (28%).

    At the bachelor level, the proportion of graduates who reported the highest match (‘closely’ or ‘somewhat’ related) were in the primary grouping fields of study of ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ (94%), ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’ (93%), ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’ (90%); all which were much higher than the overall average for bachelor graduates of 80%. Graduates in these three fields also had lower than average rates of pursuing further education.

    Master (92%) and doctorate (96%) graduates had higher proportions of match between occupation and education compared with bachelor graduates (80%). ‘Health, parks, recreation and fitness’ and ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’ graduates had the highest rates of match at the master level and ‘business, management and public administration’ and ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ graduates had the highest rates of match among doctorate graduates. Graduates in all of these fields reported higher than 97% education-occupation match rates.

    At both the bachelor and master levels, ‘humanities’ and ‘visual, performing arts and communication technologies’ had the highest proportions of graduates who reported their job being unrelated (‘not at all related’) to their education.

    Earned doctorate graduates who were working in a post-doctorate position were more likely to be men, living in the United States, working in a temporary position and to have had lower earnings compared with those not working in post-doctorate positions

    Among the 2009-2010 graduates who had an earned doctorate and who had not returned to school, 1,200 or 20% were working in a post-doctorate position three years after graduation. The proportion of women was lower (45%) among those who were working in post-doctorate positions compared with those who were not working in post-doctorate positions (51%).

    It was also almost three times more common for those working in post-doctorate positions to be living in the United States (14%) during the reference week compared with those not working in post-doctorate positions during reference week (5%).

    The most common primary fields of study among those working in post-doctorate positions were ‘physical and life sciences and technologies’ which was the field of study of 38% of those working in post-doctorate positions followed by ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ which represented a third (33%). These two fields of study groupings represented over two-thirds (71%) of all doctorate graduates working in postdoctoral positions. The distribution of fields of study of those not working in post-doctorate positions was less concentrated with ‘physical and life sciences, and technologies’, ‘social and behavioural sciences and law’, ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’ and ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’ sharing similar proportions (between 17% and 18% each). These four groups represented over two-thirds (69%) of all doctorate graduates not working in postdoctoral positions.


    Interpreting earnings

    Information on earnings is for graduates working full-time who have not pursued or completed any further education since graduating in 2010. Readers should keep in mind when interpreting earnings results that there are many potential reasons for differences in earnings between graduates from different programs and different levels of education. For example, the results presented in this report do not necessarily reflect graduates’ highest level of education, but could reflect simply the most recent; so a graduate could have a master degree completed previously, and a college diploma completed in 2009-2010. This individual would be counted as a college graduate, even though his or her earnings might be more reflective of the master degree.

    The National Graduates Survey reports on the gross annual earnings of graduates who did not return to school within three years of graduation and were working full-time in 2013.

    The estimated gross median annual earnings of college graduates working full-time in 2013 was $41,600 (Appendix table A.10). At the college level, men earned more than women, especially among the top earners (75th percentile), where the earnings difference between men and women was $15,600. This was likely influenced by the fact that 41% of male graduates at the college level studied in the ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’ grouping, (Appendix table A.2) where earnings were much higher than for the average college graduate ($52,000 compared with $41,600 at the median). On the other hand, among women with college diploma, three in ten studied ‘health, parks, recreation and fitness’, where the earnings were either the same as or only slightly higher than for college graduates ($43,000 compared with $41,600 at the median, equal at the 75th percentile).

    As shown in Chart 2.5, bachelor graduates earned more than college graduates and this premium was larger for women than men. At the median, women with a bachelor degree earned $51,000 compared with $57,000 for men. Women with a bachelor degree earned $12,100 (or 31%) more than women with a college diploma, while men with a bachelor degree earned $9,000 (or 19%) more than men with a college diploma.

    Master graduates earned the largest premium by education level

    A typical master graduate (at the median level) earned a large premium over those with a bachelor degree, earning $70,000 (compared with $53,000 for those with a bachelor degree). The top earnings quartile for men with a master degree reached $100,000 and $81,000 for women. This quartile represented the largest gap in earnings between the sexes of all levels of education in absolute dollars (Appendix A.10).

    Description for chart 2.5

    Median earnings overall for doctorate graduates was $75,000, however there was a large difference in earnings between those working in post-doctorate positions ($50,000) and those who were not ($82,000). (Appendix table A.10) Doctorate graduates earned the smallest premium over the previous level and in fact for men there was no premium at all with male doctorate holders earning less on average in every quartile than master graduates (Chart 2.5 above). This comparative disadvantage disappeared when separating doctorate holders into those working and not working in post-doctorate positions. As shown in Appendix table A.10, the typical doctorate graduate working in a non-post-doctorate position earned 17% more than those with a master degree ($82,000 versus $70,000), compared with 29% less than a master graduate for those working in post-doctorate positions ($50,000 versus $70,000). The difference in earnings between those working in non-post-doctorate occupations and master graduates was twice as large for women (difference of $15,000) as it was for men (difference of $8,600). The median earnings of women working in non-post-doctorate positions were 23% higher than master graduates ($80,000 versus $65,000), while men working in non-post-doctorate positions earned 11% more than master graduates ($85,000 versus $76,400).

    Women with a doctorate earned almost as much as men

    Having a doctorate tended to be an equalizer when it came to earnings between the sexes; where the smallest differences of any level occurred. At the median, female doctorate holders earned only $1,800 (or 2%) less than men. Among those working in post-doctoral positions, women and men had equal median earnings ($50,000). At the 75th percentile among those working in post-doctoral positions, women earned $10,000 (14%) more than men, one of only two places at any level where this occurred.Note 5 The lowest quartile earnings for men (with a doctorate) working in a post-doctoral position was similar ($45,000) to the lowest quartile earnings among men with bachelor degrees ($44,000).Note 6 (Appendix table A.10)

    Earnings varied by fields of study

    In addition to level of education and gender, earnings also varied by field of study. As seen in Chart 2.6.1, among college graduates, the minor grouping fields of study with the highest median earnings were ‘mechanic and repair technologies/technicians’ at $55,600, ‘construction trades’ at $54,100, and ‘engineering technologies/technicians’ at $52,000 compared with $41,600 for college graduates overall. The field of study minor groupings with the lowest median earnings were ‘personal and culinary services’ at $29,600 and ‘family and consumer sciences’ at $33,800.

    Medicine and law degrees are included with bachelor degrees but they have different characteristics than other bachelor level programs and are also associated with higher earnings. The overall median earnings for bachelor graduates was $53,000 with those who studied in the minor grouping of ‘legal professions and studies’ earning $43,000 more at $96,000. (Chart 2.6.2) While graduates in ‘medicine’ earned the same as those in ‘legal professions and studies’ at the 25th percentile, at the 75th, graduates in ‘medicine’ had higher earnings ($250,000 for medical graduates) compared with $120,000 for graduates from ‘legal professions and studies’. Graduates in ‘biological and biomedical sciences’ had the lowest median earnings at $32,000 among the minor groupings at the bachelor level. ‘Biological and biomedical science’ graduates also had higher rates of pursuing further education (77% versus 49% overall for bachelor graduates) and therefore lower median earnings may be influencing the high rate of pursuing further education. (Appendix table A.2)

    Unlike at the bachelor level, at the master and doctorate level, ‘business, management and public administration’ graduates were top earners with median earnings of $77,000 and $98,800 respectively, compared with the median earnings of master graduates ($70,000) and doctorate graduates ($75,000) overall. ‘Health, parks, recreation and fitness’ and ‘education’ graduates had the second and third highest median earnings at the master level, earning $72,200 and $72,000 respectively; as did ‘education’ graduates at the doctorate level (second highest at $84,000). ‘Education’ graduates enjoyed high median earnings at both the master and doctorate level, lower rates of returning to school, and about average job relatedness and employment rates. (Charts 2.6.3 and 2.6.4)

    Similarly at the bachelor level, while employment rates for ‘education’ graduates were lower and earnings were similar to that observed for all bachelor graduates, these graduates had lower rates of pursuing further education, high rates of job relatedness and above average job satisfaction.Note 7 Graduates who completed their degrees in ‘humanities’ and ‘physical and life sciences’ were both among the three primary fields of study with the lowest median earnings at all university levels (bachelor, master and doctorate). There was a large difference between the earnings of ‘biological and biomedical science’ and ‘physical sciences’ graduates at all levels, with the largest gap at the bachelor level ($37,400 compared with $55,000).

    Description for chart 2.6.1

    Description for chart 2.6.2

    Description for chart 2.6.3

    Description for chart 2.6.4

    Summary

    A large proportion of graduates in 2009-2010 pursued further education after graduation. Bachelor graduates were the most likely to have pursued further education, at 49%, followed by college graduates (35%), master graduates (32%) and earned doctorate graduates (16%).

    Among those who entered the workforce, most graduates at each level of education enjoyed higher employment rates, ranging from 90% among college graduates to 93% among doctorates. While overall employment rates were similar between men and women, women were less likely to be working full-time and more likely to be working part-time compared with men.

    Doctorate graduates were much more likely than any other to be working in a job that was not permanent (38%) three years after graduation compared with graduates from other levels of education. However, the proportion of those working in temporary positions was much higher among doctorates working in post-doctorate positions than non-post-doctorate positions.

    The NGS results showed a relationship between employment and the proportion of graduates who pursued further education within three years of graduation. A higher proportion of graduates pursued further education in fields of study where there were lower employment rates. For example, among bachelor graduates, ‘biological and biomedical science’ (77%) and ‘mathematics and statistics’ (71%) were among the field of study sub-groupings with the largest proportions of returning students and both had employment rates below the average (88% and 86% compared with 92% overall for bachelor graduates).

    A similar proportion of college and bachelor graduates reported a ‘close’ or ‘somewhat close’ relationship between their job and education (81% and 80% respectively). In contrast, the proportion who reported a ‘close’ or ‘somewhat close’ relationship between their job and education was higher among master (92%) and doctorate graduates (96%).

    The earnings of graduates from 2009-2010 three years after graduation was generally higher among those with higher levels of education with the largest level-over-level premium benefitting master graduates ($70,000 for those with a master degree compared with $53,000 for those with a bachelor degree at the median). Doctorate graduates working in non-post-doctorate positions earned substantially more on average ($75,000) than those working in post-doctorate positions ($50,000). Having a doctorate tended to be an equalizer when it came to earnings between the sexes, where the smallest differences of any level occurred. At the median, female doctorate holders earned only $1,800 (or 2%) less than men. Among those working in post-doctoral positions, earnings are the same with both women and men earning at the median $50,000 and at the 75th percentile, women earned $10,000 (14%) more than men.

    Notes

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