I should’ve gotten a BA in fast food

In Ontario today, there seems to be an increasing number of career options and a decreasing number of career choices, especially in the Niagara Region in which many college and university students often find themselves totally oblivious to what they want to ‘do with their lives’.

The question comes from family, friends, professors and dates, and each time it’s asked, you or the other person usually laughs nervously and then gives a generic “I’m figuring that out”— kind of answer. The path of an undergraduate degree ends abruptly, leaving a student with a million interests and options, but likely, few practical choices.

At the end of that four or five-year degree, students seem to opt back into more education, doing a master’s degree, a PhD, post-graduate studies, additional qualifications or adding another minor — this mentality, while studious and productive, also leads to a growing number of students in Ontario finding themselves overqualified for their post-graduate positions.

According to Stats Canada, the probability that a 25 year-old will be overqualified for their position (requiring a college education or less) is 45 per cent. The study tracks men and women from age 25 to 34, and while the probability of over-qualification lowers as the age of the worker increases, but even for even for a 34 year-old worker, there is a 35 per cent chance they will be overqualified for their current position.

Ontario specifically ranks as a province with one of the lowest probability rates of over-qualification in the country with a probability of over-qualification (for workers aged 25 to 34) of 39 per cent.

While still a disturbing figure, other provinces like: Nova Scotia (42 per cent), British Columbia (42 per cent) and Manitoba (44 per cent) rank substantially higher. The statistics from Brock University, however, seem to predict better possible outcomes, than other Canadian provinces and universities.

As of 2012, the Ministry of Training, College and Universities interviewed university graduates from 2010, interviewing 70,845 students (2,982 of which graduated from Brock). Within six months of graduating 87.7 per cent of Brock alumni reported that they were employed, compared to 86.5 per cent of general alumni in Ontario.

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After two years of graduating, 92.8 per cent of Brock alumni reported that they were employed, compared to 92.2 per cent of general alumni in Ontario. More recent statistics from Canada’s Higher Education and Career Guide suggest that the post-graduation employment rates for Brock alumni have increased up to 97.2 per cent, which would make it the highest of all Ontario universities.

Now, these statistics are simply employment rates and provide no indication of the quality of the employment – meaning that they could potentially be in fast food, retail, service positions unrelated to their field or ambitions.

That being said, the same survey also asked whether or not this “employment” was “closely” or “somewhat” related to their field. After two years only 82 per cent of Brock students reported that their job was related, meaning up to 18 per cent of qualified students are unable to find work in their desired field of interest or qualification.

As a Concurrent Education student myself, I understand the risks of my “qualification”. As I graduate teacher’s college next year, the employment opportunities for me seem bleak at best, and inexplicably bleaker within school boards in the Niagara Region.

The days of walking out of university into meaningful employment with benefits are gone, and it will be a fight and a struggle, rather than an ‘application process’ standing in the way of most people’s desired career paths.

Even in the face of all of this, these stats dispel a bit of hope, that it is at the very least possible to get that career in the corner office, or that career where you get to be creative, or that career that lets you make a difference in the lives of children: no matter how many tables you have to serve or burgers you have to flip until you get to that point.

-Steve Nadon

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