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Graduates employed, working in areas of study: Report

A new survey shows that, five years after graduating, 93 per cent of university degree holders are in the labour force. The majority of those are working in a job related to their field of study.

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette Editor

A new survey shows that the great majority of university graduates across Canada are employed, working in a job related to their area of study and earning a median annual income of $63,000.

The first report for the Canadian University Baccalaureate Graduate Outcomes Project looks at labour market outcomes five years after graduation. More than 21,000 graduates from 41 universities across the country provided information for the survey.

The report looked at four key findings: labour force participation; employment rate; income; and program-employment relatedness.

According to Chris Conway, Director, Institutional Research and Planning at Queen’s, who authored the report along with research analyst Sara Montgomery, the survey provides much-needed information on student outcomes for universities, and shows that graduates are finding stability and success in the longer term.

The report shows that 93 per cent of respondents were in the labour force and that a significant number of those who were not working were instead pursuing post-graduate education. The employment rate was even higher at 95.7 per cent, with 93.3 per cent of those jobs being full-time. When it came to program-employment relatedness, 44 per cent responded “very related” and 31 per cent “somewhat related.”
Overall, Mr. Conway says the results are positive for the universities as well as for graduates and prospective students.

“I think that they should take from it that a university education, regardless of the discipline, holds a lot of promise for employment and career progress,” Mr. Conway says. “There’s clearly career success occurring amongst all programs and disciplines across the country, and university graduates are making real contributions to the economy.”

Other graduate outcomes surveys are done, Mr. Conway says, that look at labour market outcomes six months to two years after graduation. By surveying students at the five-year-out mark, graduates are responding from a more settled point in their personal and work lives and have a better understanding of what aspects of university education have proven most valuable in their careers.

“This survey provides good evidence that in terms of labour market outcomes these folks are highly employed, are making good incomes and are working in jobs that are reasonably well related to their academic program,” he says.

Mr. Conway added that he was “pleasantly surprised” at the job relatedness numbers and that all the results were higher than seen at the two-year-out mark.

Each university that participated has its own results and will be able to compare against the national information. Reports from the survey will continue to be released throughout the summer and into the fall.
Mr. Conway is aiming to have a report on Queen’s results complete by late summer.