Ontario University Degree Survey Shows Where Money, Jobs Are

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GRADUATES
Many undergraduate degrees — including some that are considered a surefire bet — aren't quite the job magnets they used to be. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) | Getty
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Many undergraduate degrees — including some that are considered a surefire bet — aren't quite the job magnets they used to be, according to a new survey of Ontario graduates.

The Council of Ontario Universities' 2012 Grad Survey shows that employment rates six months and two years after 2010 graduates earned their degrees fell for a number of programs, even as Canada's economy recovered from the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

For instance, computer science grads from the class of 2010 (the latest year available, as the survey looks at grads two years after graduation) had an employment rate one percentage point lower than grads the year before, the survey found. The employment rate two years after graduation for '10 grads was 95.3 per cent, compared to 96.2 per cent for 2009 grads.

Nursing students, who as recently as 2004 had a 100-per-cent employment rate two years after graduating, had an employment rate of 97.6 per cent for the 2010 class — still a very strong rate, despite the decline.

The average percentage of all 2010 graduates is one percentage point lower than the 2009 class, with 86.5 per cent of all grads holding jobs. But only 76.4 per cent said their jobs were related to the degree they had.

Two years after graduation, 92.2. per cent of 2010 grads had jobs, and 82.3 per cent had jobs related to their degree.

The decline demonstrates “a dip in the overall employment rate of all Ontario youth as a consequence of the recent global economic recession,” according to the report.

The average salary for 2010 grads with full-time jobs six months after earning their degree was $42,688. That figure jumped to $49,277 two years after graduation.

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Maclean’s noted that although average salaries remained somewhat steady since the Great Recession, different degrees have gained value, like computer sciences or engineering, while others have lost value, like humanities and journalism.

A previous report from CIBC found Canadian students continue to enter programs that are less likely to pay off upon graduation, such as social sciences and humanities, despite diminishing returns.

“Those underperforming sectors comprise just under half of all recent graduates,” the CIBC study reads.

COU’s study surveyed 70,845 students who graduated from Ontario universities in 2010, 25,583 of whom responded. Its survey was conducted between November 2012 and March 2013.

CORRECTION: An earlier headline on this story referred to graduate degrees. COU's research looked at undergraduate degrees exclusively. The Huffington Post regrets the error.

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