Education, learning and training: Research Paper Series
Labour market outcomes of postsecondary graduates, class of 2015

by Alana Reid, Hui (Amy) Chen and Rebecca Guertin

Release date: November 17, 2020

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It is widely recognized that postsecondary education is associated with higher employment rates and generally better labour market conditions including higher wages or salaries.Note  According to the most recent National Graduates Survey (2018 NGS), 420,300 students graduated from a Canadian public postsecondary educational institution in 2015 and were still living in Canada three years later.Note   These graduates entered the labour market at the end of a long period of economic growthNote  which followed the 2008/2009 recession. In 2018, three years after their graduation, the unemployment rate for core working age Canadians (aged 25 to 54 years) was 4.9%,Note  the lowest since the previous recession.  Accordingly, the employment rate was at a high for the same period, at 82.7%. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was also on the rise, having risen by 1.8% annually in 2018.Note 

This period of economic growth came to a halt in 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, Graduates of 2020 and subsequent years may face labour market and financial challenges as a result. According to an online crowdsourcing data collection conducted in April 2020 on the impacts of COVID-19 on postsecondary students, two-thirds of student participants reported that they were very or extremely concerned about having no job prospects in the near future.Note  Measuring the labour market outcomes of earlier cohorts of postsecondary graduates will provide an important baseline for comparison for graduates of 2020, as well as later cohorts.

Using data from the 2018 NGS (class of 2015), this article examines the labour market outcomes of Canadian postsecondary graduates three years after graduation, including employment status, job permanency, relatedness of their job or business to their field of study, extent to which they feel qualified for their job, median employment income and job satisfaction.Note  Only 2015 graduates who did not pursue further education between 2015 and 2018 are included in this analysis.

Historically, statistical information on the labour market outcomes of postsecondary graduates in Canada came from the NGS and the Census of Population,Note  both conducted every five years. These sources provide invaluable information on the labour market outcomes of postsecondary graduates, such as employment status and occupation. The NGS has additional indicators of labour market outcomes such as graduates’ perception of whether or not they are working in a job or business related to their 2015 program and their job satisfaction. More recently, information on the employment income of graduates is also available annually from the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP).

Most 2015 graduates were employed in 2018

Postsecondary education generally leads to higher rates of employment. According to the Labour Force Survey, the employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 54 years with a university degree above a bachelor’s degree was 87.3% in 2018, compared with 76.9% for those holding a high school diploma or less.Note 

In fact, according to the National Graduates Survey, 90% of those who graduated in 2015 were employed three years after graduation (in 2018), 5% were unemployed and the remaining 5% were not in the labour force. These proportions were similar across all levels of study.Note  Note  Of the postsecondary graduates who had a job or business in 2018, most (91%) were working full time (the proportions ranged from 89% for college graduates to 94% for master’s graduates).

Female graduates are more likely than their male counterparts to work part time

Female graduates (12%) were twice as likely as their male counterparts (5%) to be working part time three years after graduation. The difference in the proportion of men and women working part time was observed for each level of study, but the largest difference was observed for the college level, where 6% of men and 15% women were working part time (see Table 1).

Similarly, among all Canadians aged 25 to 54 years who were employed in 2018,Note  a larger proportion of women than men were employed part time. In fact, among the core working age population, women (18.2%) were three times more likely to be employed part time than men (5.6%).

The propensity for female graduates to work part time may partly be related to the prevalence of part-time work in their fields of study. A shift share analysis showed that field of study accounts for 38% of the differences in the proportion of men and women working part time. In other words, if women had chosen the same fields of study as men, women would still be more likely to work part time, but the gap between men and women would be reduced by 38%.

The prevalence of part-time work is highest for graduates in ‘humanities’

Graduates working full time typically earn higher wages and receive more non-wage benefits than those working part time who are often not eligible for these benefits.Note  For instance, full-time employees generally receive more health-related benefits such as medical and dental plans and life or disability insurance plans than part-time workers. They may also receive better job advancement opportunities than their counterparts working part time.Note 

The fields of study with the highest proportions of graduates working part time at most levels of study were ‘education’, ‘visual and performing arts, and communications technologies’, ‘humanities’ and ‘health and related fields’ (see Table 1). Doctoral graduates in the field of ‘social and behavioural sciences, and law’ also showed a relatively high proportion of part-time workers.


Table 1
Proportion of 2015 graduates of 2015 working part time in 2018, by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of 2015 graduates of 2015 working part time in 2018. The information is grouped by Field of study (appearing as row headers), College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral, calculated using Men and Women (ref.) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Field of study College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.)
Total 6Note * 15 5Note * 10 4Note * 8 7Note * 12
Education 27 27 9 15 4 7 15 18
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 25 11 17 19 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 14 53Note * 32
Humanities Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 7 20 20 17 12 14 20
Social and behavioural sciences, and law Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 15 6 12 7 9 19 17
Business, management and public administration 7 13 3 3 2Note * 5 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act
Physical and life sciences and technologies Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 18 6 3 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 10 3 4
Mathematics, computer and information sciences Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 25 2 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 3 3 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 15
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 3 9 0 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 2 8 4 6
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 3 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act
Health and related fields 14 19 11 13 8 10 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act 10
Personal, protective and transportation services 9 14 6 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Among those working part time, two in five were working part time involuntarily

Graduates work part time for various reasons, sometimes by choice, or involuntarily.  Those who reported that they were working part time to care for family members or to pursue other activities and projects are considered to be working part time by choice. Others, who work part time due to business conditions and who indicated that they would rather work full time but are unable to find full-time employment, are considered to be working part time involuntarily.

Of graduates working part time, 42% were doing so involuntarily.  The differences in the proportion of men and women working part time involuntarily were not statistically significant at the college, bachelor’s and master’s levels (see Chart 1). However, at the doctoral level, men were more likely to work part time involuntarily than women. Over one-half (57%) of male doctoral graduates who were working part time were doing so involuntarily, compared with 28% of their female counterparts.

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Level of study (appearing as row headers), Percent (appearing as column headers).
Level of study Percent
College
Men
36
College
Women (ref.)
45
Bachelor's
Men
48
Bachelor's
Women (ref.)
41
Master's
Men
54
Master's
Women (ref.)
30
Doctoral
Men
57Note *
Doctoral
Women (ref.)
28

Most 2015 graduates worked in permanent jobs in 2018

Holding a permanent job is generally associated with higher wages and better labour market conditions.Note  According to the Labour Force Survey, 90% of Canadian employees aged 25 to 54 years had a permanent job in 2018.Note  This compares to 86% for postsecondary graduates of 2015 who were working as employees in 2018. The slightly lower proportion of graduates holding a permanent job can be attributed to the fact that the NGS shows a portrait of the early labour market outcomes of postsecondary graduates, three years after graduation, while many Canadians in the core working age population have acquired years of work experience. Moreover, the propensity of recent graduates to hold temporary jobs early in their career could be due to the fact that employers seeking to fill entry-level positions are more likely to offer temporary employment.Note 

The vast majority of college, bachelor’s and master’s graduates who were employees reported they were working in a permanent job (all at 86%) three years after graduation. In contrast, less than two-thirds of doctoral graduates (63%) were working in permanent jobs. This can be attributed to the number of doctoral graduates working in post-doctoral positions (23%), which are usually temporary positions held by doctoral graduates primarily for gaining additional education and training in research. When excluding doctoral graduates working in post-doctorate positions, three-quarters (76%) of doctoral graduates reported working in a permanent job three years after graduation.

Men (89%) were more likely than women (84%) to report that their job was permanent, largely driven by differences at the bachelor’s level (see Table 2). The differences in the proportion of men and women with a permanent job were not statistically significant at the college and doctoral levels. Moreover, a shift-share analysis of bachelor’s graduates showed that over half (54%) of the differences in the proportion of men and women holding a permanent job were due to differences in field of study.

Generally, graduates in ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’, ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’ and in ‘business, management and public administration’ were among the most likely to hold a permanent job for most levels of study. Conversely, those in ‘education’, ‘humanities’ as well as in ‘agriculture, natural resources and conservation’ were the least likely to hold a permanent job.


Table 2
Proportion of graduates of 2015 working in permanent jobs in 2018, by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of graduates of 2015 working in permanent jobs in 2018 College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral (appearing as column headers).
College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Total 86 86 86 63
Men 88 91Note * 88Note * 64
Women (ref.) 85 83 84 63
Field of study
Education 67Note * 61Note * 85Note * 67
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 82 85Note * 50Note * 54Note *
Humanities 73 81Note * 78Note * 59Note *
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 83 88Note * 80Note * 69
Business, management and public administration 88 92 92 76
Physical and life sciences and technologies 92 84Note * 68Note * 52Note *
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 92 93 87 69
Architecture, engineering and related technologies (ref.) 90 94 92 71
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 76Note * 80Note * 78Note * 56Note *
Health and related fields 87 86Note * 85Note * 58Note *
Personal, protective and transportation services 85 91 85 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Most graduates are working in a job or business related to their field of study

Working in a job or business related to their field of study may explain, in part, why some graduates are more or less satisfied with their job. Job satisfaction is associated with many other advantages such as lower turnover and higher productivity.Note 

Four out of five graduates (81%) who were employed three years after graduation reported that their job or business was ‘closely related’ or ‘somewhat related’ to their 2015 program. This was similar to the findings for graduates of 2010 (83%). Graduates with higher levels of education were more likely to work in a job or business related to their field of study, ranging from 77% for college graduates to 93% for doctoral graduates.

Women (83%) were more likely than men (79%) to report that they were working in a job or business related to their field of study three years after graduation, driven by differences at the college and master’s levels (see Table 3). At the bachelor’s and doctoral levels, the difference in the proportion of men and women working in a job or business related to their field of study was not statistically significant.

Generally, graduates in fields of ‘education’, ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’, and in ‘health and related fields’ were the most likely to report working in a job or business related to their field of study. This may reflect the close association between these programs and the specific job requirements for these fields.Note  Conversely, those in ‘humanities’ were the least likely to report their job or business was related to their field of study.


Table 3
Proportion of 2015 graduates who reported working in a job or business related to their field of study in 2018, by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of 2015 graduates who reported working in a job or business related to their field of study in 2018 College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral (appearing as column headers).
College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Total 77 80 91 93
Men 73Note * 78 89Note * 93
Women (ref.) 81 81 92 93
Field of study
Education 80 89 95 96
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 66Note * 67Note * 82Note * 85Note *
Humanities 44Note * 41Note * 76Note * 80Note *
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 83 62Note * 86Note * 96
Business, management and public administration 77Note * 88 93Note * 95
Physical and life sciences and technologies 81 66Note * 78Note * 93Note *
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 84 90 94 97
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 70Note * 93 89Note * 94
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 80 72Note * 82Note * 94
Health and related fields (ref.) 87 91 97 96
Personal, protective and transportation services 69Note * 73Note * 88Note * Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

The majority of graduates feel qualified for their job

When graduates feel qualified for their job, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job,Note  which may have an impact on their productivity and their job turnover. When considering their experience, education and training, 74% of graduates reported they were qualified for the job they held three years after graduation, while 24% felt overqualified and 2% felt underqualified.  Men and women were equally likely to report that they were overqualified at the college, bachelor’s and master’s levels, while female doctoral graduates were slightly more likely to feel overqualified than their male counterparts (See Table 4).  

The extent to which graduates felt overqualified for their jobs varied more by field of study than by level of study.

Graduates at all levels of study in ‘humanities’ were generally more likely to report being overqualified. This was also the case for bachelor’s and master’s graduates in the fields of ‘social and behavioural sciences, and law’, ‘business, management and public administration’, as well as in ‘physical and life sciences and technologies’. Conversely, those in ‘health and related fields’ were the least likely to report being overqualified; this was also the case for doctoral graduates in ‘business, management and public administration’ and for bachelor’s graduates in ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’.


Table 4
Proportion of 2015 graduates who felt overqualified for their job in 2018, by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of 2015 graduates who felt overqualified for their job in 2018 College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral (appearing as column headers).
College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Total 22 23 28 24
Men 23 23 30 23Note *
Women (ref.) 22 24 27 26
Field of study
Education 21 19 29Note * 34Note *
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 28Note * 26Note * 24 33Note *
Humanities 26 34Note * 38Note * 41Note *
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 24Note * 34Note * 32Note * 23
Business, management and public administration 24Note * 26Note * 31Note * 17
Physical and life sciences and technologies 21 29Note * 32Note * 21
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 24 14 25 22
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 24Note * 17 28 23
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 19 22 28 23
Health and related fields (ref.) 15 12 19 20
Personal, protective and transportation services 27Note * 18 33 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Median annual employment income varies by level of study and field of study

The employment income of graduates two years after graduation, in 2017, increased with the level of education. For example, college graduates earned $35,000 in employment income, compared with $48,000 for bachelor’s graduates, $61,000 for master’s graduates and $65,000 for doctoral graduates.

Employment income also varied by field of study. At the college, bachelor’s and doctoral levels, graduates in the fields of mathematics, computer and information sciences, architecture, engineering and related technologies and health and related fields had the highest median employment income. In addition, master’s and doctoral graduates in education and business, management and public administration had high employment income.

Notably, a large proportion of graduates in these fields of study with the highest median employment income reported they were working in a job or business related to their field (see Table 3).


Table 5
Median employment income of 2015 graduates who were working in a job or business in 2017 by level of study and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median employment income of 2015 graduates who were working in a job or business in 2017 by level of study and field of study. The information is grouped by Field of study (appearing as row headers), College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral (appearing as column headers).
Field of study College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Total 35,000Table 5 Note A 48,000Table 5 Note A 61,000Table 5 Note A 65,000Table 5 Note A
Education 33,000Table 5 Note BNote * 47,000Table 5 Note ANote * 72,000Table 5 Note A 84,000Table 5 Note A
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 28,000Table 5 Note BNote * 29,000Table 5 Note BNote * 47,000Table 5 Note BNote * 27,900Table 5 Note BNote *
Humanities 24,000Note E: Use with cautionNote * 40,000Table 5 Note BNote * 50,900Table 5 Note ANote * 47,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 31,400Table 5 Note ANote * 40,200Table 5 Note ANote * 50,000Table 5 Note ANote * 70,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Business, management and public administration 35,000Table 5 Note A 47,600Table 5 Note ANote * 66,000Table 5 Note A 97,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Physical and life sciences and technologies 35,000Table 5 Note B 38,800Table 5 Note ANote * 50,000Table 5 Note ANote * 55,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 44,000Table 5 Note B 55,000Table 5 Note BNote * 62,000Table 5 Note A 78,000Table 5 Note B
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 40,000Table 5 Note A 57,600Table 5 Note ANote * 60,000Table 5 Note A 70,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 36,000Table 5 Note B 40,000Table 5 Note BNote * 51,000Table 5 Note ANote * 56,000Table 5 Note ANote *
Health and related fields (ref.) 40,000Table 5 Note A 65,000Table 5 Note A 67,000Table 5 Note A 80,000Table 5 Note A
Personal, protective and transportation services 31,000Table 5 Note BNote * 48,000Table 5 Note BNote * 82,000Table 5 Note BNote * Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Similar to results from the “Labour market outcomes for college and university graduates, 2010 to 2015” release,Note  men earned more than women two years after graduation at most levels of study. The difference in the employment income of men and women was the most pronounced at the college level ($7,000), and least pronounced at the doctoral level ($700).

However, an examination of the median employment income of male and female graduates by field of study showed that the differences in the earnings of men and women were not statistically significant in most fields (see Table 6). The differences in the median employment income of male and female graduates were only statistically significant for college graduates in ‘physical and life sciences and technologies’ and for doctoral graduates in ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’, ‘architecture, engineering and related technologies’ and ’agriculture, natural resources and conservation’.


Table 6
Median employment income of 2015 graduates who were working in a job or business in 2017 by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median employment income of 2015 graduates who were working in a job or business in 2017 by level of study. The information is grouped by Field of study (appearing as row headers), College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral, calculated using Men and Women (ref.) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Field of study College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.) Men Women (ref.)
Total 40,000Table 6 Note ANote * 33,000Table 6 Note A 50,000Table 6 Note ANote * 45,000Table 6 Note A 65,000Table 6 Note ANote * 60,000Table 6 Note A 65,000Table 6 Note A 64,300Table 6 Note A
Education 34,000Table 6 Note B 32,000Table 6 Note B 50,000Table 6 Note B 45,000Table 6 Note A 81,000Table 6 Note A 70,000Table 6 Note A 84,000Table 6 Note A 82,000Table 6 Note A
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 27,000Table 6 Note B 28,000Table 6 Note B 27,000Table 6 Note B 30,000Table 6 Note B 55,000Table 6 Note C 40,000Table 6 Note C 34,000Table 6 Note B 25,500Table 6 Note C
Humanities 15,000Note E: Use with caution 24,000Note E: Use with caution 40,000Table 6 Note C 39,000Table 6 Note B 54,400Table 6 Note B 50,000Table 6 Note B 45,000Table 6 Note B 49,000Table 6 Note B
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 32,000Table 6 Note B 31,000Table 6 Note A 46,000Table 6 Note B 40,000Table 6 Note A 52,000Table 6 Note B 50,000Table 6 Note A 65,000Table 6 Note B 70,000Table 6 Note A
Business, management and public administration 40,000Table 6 Note B 32,000Table 6 Note B 47,600Table 6 Note A 47,300Table 6 Note A 72,000Table 6 Note A 64,000Table 6 Note A 94,400Table 6 Note A 97,000Table 6 Note A
Physical and life sciences and technologies 40,000Table 6 Note BNote * 32,000Table 6 Note C 40,000Table 6 Note B 36,600Table 6 Note B 52,400Table 6 Note B 48,000Table 6 Note B 56,000Table 6 Note A 55,000Table 6 Note A
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 45,000Table 6 Note B 30,000Table 6 Note C 56,000Table 6 Note B 40,200Note E: Use with caution 65,000Table 6 Note A 57,000Table 6 Note B 81,000Table 6 Note ANote * 60,000Table 6 Note A
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 40,000Table 6 Note A 39,000Table 6 Note B 58,000Table 6 Note A 55,000Table 6 Note B 61,300Table 6 Note A 60,000Table 6 Note B 70,000Table 6 Note ANote * 55,000Table 6 Note B
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 40,000Table 6 Note B 32,000Table 6 Note B 46,000Table 6 Note B 38,000Table 6 Note C 55,000Table 6 Note B 51,000Table 6 Note A 60,000Table 6 Note ANote * 50,000Table 6 Note B
Health and related fields 50,000Table 6 Note B 38,000Table 6 Note A 60,000Table 6 Note B 65,000Table 6 Note A 68,000Table 6 Note A 66,200Table 6 Note A 79,500Table 6 Note A 85,000Table 6 Note A
Personal, protective and transportation services 34,300Table 6 Note B 30,000Table 6 Note B 47,000Table 6 Note B 48,000Table 6 Note B 78,000Table 6 Note B 97,000Table 6 Note D Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

High degree of job satisfaction among 2015 graduates

Job satisfaction is associated with higher productivity and lower job turnover.Note  The NGS asked graduates multiple questions about their job satisfaction, including their satisfaction with their overall job held in 2018, their wage or salary and their job security. In this section, we look at graduates’ satisfaction with their overall job when considering all aspects of their job.

Among graduates who were working as employees, 83% of 2015 graduates reported that they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with their jobs three years after graduation, while less than two-thirds (62%) reporting being satisfied with their wage or salary. These rates were somewhat lower than what was observed for the 2010 graduates (91% reporting being ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied, with their job and 80% being satisfied with their wage or salary in their job held in 2013). 

By level of study, the proportion of 2015 graduates with a high level of job satisfaction ranged from 80% for bachelor’s graduates to 87% for doctoral graduates.

The proportion of graduates reporting a high level of job satisfaction varied more by field of study than by level of study. Although graduates in ‘education’ were less likely to be working in permanent positions than graduates in other fields of study, they reported the highest levels of job satisfaction across all levels of study (see Table 7). ‘Health and related fields’ was another field of study in which most graduates reported a high level of job satisfaction (between 82% and 89%). 

In contrast, graduates at most levels of study (except for the doctoral level) in ‘physical and life sciences and technologies’ were among the least likely to be satisfied with their jobs. Bachelor’s graduates in ‘humanities’ (71%) and doctoral graduates in ‘visual and performing arts, and communications technologies’ (75%) also reported lower levels of job satisfaction.


Table 7
Job satisfaction of 2015 graduates, by level of study, sex and field of study
Table summary
This table displays the results of Job satisfaction of 2015 graduates College, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral (appearing as column headers).
College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
Total 84 80 86 87
Men 84 80 85 88
Women (ref.) 84 81 86 87
Field of study
Education (ref.) 88 90 89 92
Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies 78 73Note * 87 75Note *
Humanities 78 71Note * 88 88
Social and behavioural sciences, and law 84 75Note * 84 87Note *
Business, management and public administration 84 80Note * 85 91
Physical and life sciences and technologies 71 73Note * 72Note * 86Note *
Mathematics, computer and information sciences 84 88 87 87
Architecture, engineering and related technologies 83 87 85 88Note *
Agriculture, natural resources and conservation 81 72Note * 88 89
Health and related fields 89 82 88 86Note *
Personal, protective and transportation services 83 88 91 Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act

Summary

This study examined the labour market outcomes of graduates of 2015, three years after their graduation, using the 2018 National Graduates Survey (NGS).  Most postsecondary graduates who did not pursue further postsecondary education after graduation were employed three years after graduation. Of those who were employed, 91% were working full time and four-fifths of graduates had a job or businesses that was related to their field of study. The majority of graduates reported that they were satisfied with their jobs and felt qualified for them.

With the exception of employment income, labour market outcomes varied more by field of study than level of study. For example, those in ‘health and related fields’, ‘education’ or ‘mathematics, computer and information sciences’ had  the largest proportions of graduates reporting they were: working in a job or business related to their field of study; felt qualified for their job or were satisfied with their job.

By level of study, the proportion of graduates reporting they were working in a job or business related to their field of study ranged from 77% for college graduates to 93% for doctoral graduates. The proportion of graduates who felt overqualified for their jobs varied less by level of study from 22% for college graduates to 28% for master’s graduates. Job satisfaction was also relatively similar across each level of study, with 80% of bachelor’s graduates, 84% of college graduates, 86% of master’s graduates and 87% of doctoral graduates reporting that they were satisfied with their jobs.

In contrast, ‘humanities’ emerged as a field of study in which graduates did not perform well across many labour market indicators. One-fifth of bachelor’s graduates, 14% of master’s graduates and 17% of doctoral graduates in this field were working part time three years after graduation. Moreover, bachelor’s graduates in ‘humanities’ were the least satisfied with their jobs in 2018. Graduates in ‘humanities’ were also the least likely to be working in a job or business related to their field of study across all levels of study. Finally, graduates of ‘humanities’ were among the most likely to report that they were overqualified for their jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely impact the labour market outcomes of the postsecondary graduates of 2020, as well as future cohorts. It will be important that future studies examine these cohorts to determine the similarities of their outcomes with graduates of 2015 and the ways in which they differ.

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Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0327-01 Labour force characteristics by sex and detailed age group, annual.

Statistics Canada. Table 37-10-0122-01 Characteristics and median employment income of postsecondary graduates two years after graduation, by educational qualification and field of study (alternative primary groupings), 2010 to 2015 cohorts.

Statistics Canada. 2008. Workplace and Employee Survey Compendium 2005. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 71-585-XIE.

Zhao, John, Sarah Jane Ferguson, Heather Dryburgh, Carlos Rodriguez, Laura Gibson, Katherine Wall and Rajendra Subedi. 2017. “Are young bachelor’s degree holders finding jobs that match their studies?” Census in Brief. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-200-X2016025.


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