Hope for post-grads

New surveys show employment for graduates has risen

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

According to a survey released by the Council of Ontario Universities, 93 per cent of university graduates have secured employment just two years after graduation. The survey also indicates that the average income amongst university graduates just two years after graduation is relatively high, at $49,398.

According to Bonnie Patterson, president and CEO of the COU, a survey was sent out to over 72,000 students who had graduated from undergraduate programs in 2011. Out of these graduates, 34.7 per cent responded to generate the results.

Additionally, according to the survey conducted, the average annual salaries of 2011 graduates belonged to those who are employed as dentists, engineers, optometrists and veterinarians. The lower income levels averaged amongst graduates who had studied general arts, social sciences and humanities.

“We have to keep in mind when we look at those salaries that much happens between two to five and six years post-graduation,”said Patterson.

Wilfrid Laurier University also released a survey that looks at the rates of employment amongst undergraduate graduates.

According to Jan Basso, director of co-operative education and career development at WLU, the response rate to the survey was 83 per cent.

The survey conducted by WLU indicated that 96 per cent of graduates in 2013 had plans after graduation — the other four per cent were unemployed. Out of the 96 per cent, 63.4 per cent are employed, 31 per cent are enrolled in further education and 1.5 per cent are pursuing other endeavors.

Patterson explained that the analytical skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, writing skills and comparative analyses skills learned in university are typically required in the workplace, however graduates must be able to apply these skills correctly.

“I think what is really critical for students in terms of seeking jobs after graduation is that they have a clear sense of what kinds of skills they have and how they can be applied within specific industries,” said Basso.

Patterson also said that universities are starting to implement more hands-on programs into various faculties. These can include anything from co-op jobs to internships, to community-based research opportunities and practicum activities.

The purpose of these programs is to provide students with experiential learning that is needed to gain skills for the workforce.

Patterson explained that over the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic increase in employment rates amongst university graduates than in any other education attainment group.

The employment rates have fluctuated at a rate of almost 39 per cent between 2002 and 2012, which represents more than 680,000 million jobs for university graduates.

Gilles Grenier, professor of economics at the University of Ottawa said, “Education is still a very productive investment and the data I have seen on that is that more than 90 per cent of university graduates will get jobs and most of them will get good jobs, but there are a lot of variations. Some of them get good jobs and some do not get jobs in their fields.”

Despite this assessment, the survey done by the COU demonstrates that two years after graduation, 78 per cent of graduates who are employed consider their work to be related to their field of study.

In order to be able to gain a good job following graduation however, university students must begin building their portfolios and skill-sets early on.

The Co-op and Career Services Centre at WLU offers a variety of services that help students get a head start in their future careers. These services include a number of workshops that aid in resume building, improving interview skills, job-search strategies and building one’s personal online brand.

Patterson concluded, “I think you need to be patient, you need to not give up, you need to land that first job, you need to think about the contacts you make, the events you attend, the places you travel, and really start building that portfolio of the skills you have early.”

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