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The best investment you can make
2013-02-04 09:23:39

Higher education has always held an important place in society. Indeed, the importance of a university education in Canada’s job market has increased substantially over the last two decades. Recent statistics indicate that a university degree is one of the best investments young Canadians can make in their future.

Mount Allison University President and Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) Director Dr. Robert Campbell says, “The demands of employers are changing, both in Canada and internationally. Canada’s universities and colleges have been working continuously to address these and adequately prepare students for rewarding and fulfilling careers.”

Full-time enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs across Canada has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, with new programs and services being implemented to meet the needs of today’s students and employers (Statistics Canada and AUCC data).

And these graduates are in demand. Jobs for university and college graduates in Canada have more than doubled since 1990, with 1.7 million more jobs in professional areas, 1.4 million of those requiring a university degree. Even after the 2008 recession, there were 700,000 net new jobs for university graduates, compared to 320,000 net new jobs for college and trades graduates while a total of 640,000 jobs were lost for high school graduates. (Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, July 2008-2012).

Unemployment levels are also significantly lower for university graduates. In 2011 the unemployment rate for recent college and university graduates ages 25-26 was six per cent. For youth who had not gone beyond high school in their education, the unemployment rate was just over 15 per cent. The duration of unemployment for university-educated individuals was also found to be shorter, about four weeks, versus the average 11 weeks. (Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada, 2011)

While there are more jobs opportunities for university graduates, they are also better paying. Results from the 2006 Census show that a post-secondary education helps graduates get jobs faster, allowing their salaries to grow faster for a longer period of time. By the end of a career, earnings could potentially double for those with a university education compared to individuals who only earn a high school diploma or equivalent.

Campbell says, “We recognize that there is a transition period from earning your degree to your chosen career. Universities across the country are implementing new services to help students with the inevitable school-to-work transition — without additional funding resources from governments. At Mount Allison, we have a career services program, which links our students with companies and graduate schools across Canada and internationally to assist them in making the next step after Mount Allison. Our exceptional undergraduate education stands as a firm foundation for many graduates as they continue their studies and pursue their preferred career path.”

Universities are stepping up to meet the demands of both students and employers, and they are doing so with less public funding. Government operating support has dropped from just over $20,000 per student in 1978 to about $10,900 in 2012. To address the differences and minimize tuition increases, universities across the country have worked diligently to find efficiencies and to fund raise privately. (AUCC — operating support per full-time equivalent student).

Despite these challenges, Canadian universities and colleges are continuing to reach out to new and current students, and work with them and with prospective employers to provide an exceptional educational experience for the next generation. As statistics from the last 20 years show, a university education is well worth the investment for today’s youth.

Campbell says, “A Mount Allison education prepares our students for the work force and careers in two broad ways: in courses and programs, it teaches them core skills — discipline, research, writing, talking, and in extracurricular activities, students learn leadership, participatory, community, and planning skills. The combination of the two is a powerful foundation for career, professional, and post-graduate development.”

In a special report by TD Economics, higher education was found to be the single best investment that one can make — more likely to result in full-time meaningful employment, higher income levels throughout your career, and higher rates of community involvement — resulting in an overall better standard of living. Children of people who invested in post-secondary education were also more likely to follow suit and pursue higher learning themselves — seeing the benefits of this investment continue into the next generation. (td.com/economics)

Campbell says, “A university education will change your life. It will give you the skills and resources you will need to navigate an ever-changing world. Post-secondary education offers the best return on investment and is key in developing human capital, resulting in jobs, economic growth, and prosperity.”

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