A January 2013 Macleans cover story called ‘The New Underclass,’ followed by other media coverage including a segment on CBC’s Sunday Edition series, Is Canada Working? reported on the challenges facing post-secondary education institutions and students amidst a changing fiscal environment. Many of the profiles included students graduating with huge debt from student loans only to be underemployed, e.g. the ‘barista’. While the rising cost of tuition does place an extra burden upon new graduates, a lack of education pushes people to the margins of rewarding employment, both psychologically and financially.
Being strategic when choosing a field of study can increase chances of success and future earning potential. You may want to choose to study in a program which offers the option of a certificate or diploma before moving on to completing a degree. In academic terms this is called laddering. Laddering offers more flexibility to study in chunks.
A program that connects students to employers through course work can give a head start when looking for employment. Connections can be made through a service learning course, an internship/practicum, a co-op program or simply by meeting industry experts through classroom guest speakers.
When applying to a college or university program be direct and do not be afraid to ask: What kind of job is this going to get me and how much am I going to make? Post-secondary education is a big investment; be clear on expected outcomes. As mentioned in the Macleans article, “those who are willing to relocate and build on their education will find plenty of opportunities in a range of growing fields. There’s a real need for continuous learning.”
Stay tuned; our column next month will include examples of jobs filled by recent Capilano University Sunshine Coast campus graduates.