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

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

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    Sarah Jane Ferguson, Statistics Canada
    Shunji Wang, Employment and Social Development Canada

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    Correction notice

    Correction date: November 25, 2014
    Corrections have been made to this product.

    Please take note of the following change(s):

    • The counts in Figure 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 4.2.
    • The median earnings of women working in non-post-doctorate positions are 23% higher than master graduates.
    • Co-op graduates from fields such as ‘business, management and public administration’, and ‘social and behavioural sciences, and law’ represent 40% of all co-op grads at the college level..

    We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

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    Knowledge and skills are increasingly important to innovation, productivity, economic growth and competitiveness. For Canada, a better educated population and a highly skilled workforce are vital to ensure successes in the face of growing global competition. Higher education can provide individuals with knowledge and skills needed to participate in a changing economy and society. As jobs become increasingly knowledge-intensive, having a postsecondary credential is the best route to a well-paying, quality job in Canada.

    Canada is among the most highly educated countries in the world, with one-quarter (25%) of those aged 25 to 64 holding a college diploma and another 27% holding a university degreeNote 1. There are many benefits of attaining higher education, including higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. In Canada in 2011, adults with a college diploma or university degree earned on average 74% more than those with a high school diploma or trades certificate.Note 2 In addition, during the recent economic crisis, the hardest hit were for those with less than a high school diploma. Between 2008 and 2011, the unemployment rate for this group rose by 2.6 percentage points to 11.7%. In comparison, the unemployment rate for those with a college diploma or university degree was less than half of that for those with less than a high school diploma and increased by only 0.9 percentage points to 5% in 2011Note 3. Furthermore, higher levels of education are also fundamental for social and cultural development and civic participation.

    Using data from the 2013 National Graduates Survey (Class of 2009-2010), this report describes the educational experiences, labour market outcomes and financing of higher education of recent Canadian postsecondary graduates. Section one describes the profile and educational pathways of graduates from college, bachelor, master and doctorate level programs. Section two focuses on labour market activity three years after graduation. Section three presents information on the sources of financing of postsecondary education as well as debt repayment and its relation to education level and field of study. Section four focuses specifically on co-op education programs. The final section provides a summary and conclusion.

    The National Graduates Survey (NGS)

    The National Graduates Survey (NGS) 2013 was conducted in the Spring/Summer of 2013 and collected information on graduates from public postsecondary institutions in Canada focusing on employment, labour market outcomes and student debt. The NGS 2013 surveyed the graduating class of 2009-2010 with the reference period varying across institutions. For example, universities follow an academic year which goes from September to August, whereas the academic year for colleges tends to vary. This was different from prior surveys where the reference period was based on a calendar year (i.e. January to December). Unless otherwise specified, all references in this report pertain to the graduating class of 2009-2010. Please note that the National Graduates Survey (NGS) 2013, Class of 2009-2010 was conducted three years after graduation, whereas previous National Graduate Surveys were conducted two years after graduation. While information on graduates at the time of graduation is comparable across cycles, information on graduate’s activities at the time of the interview is not directly comparable. For example, labour market outcomes and debt repayment pertain to status three years after graduation for the NGS 2013 compared to two years after graduation for other cycles of NGS.


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