For 25-to-64-year-olds who earned a bachelor’s degree in Canada, just 3.7 percent are unemployed. Although that data is up-to-date – it’s from the 2011 Statistics Canada National Household survey – you don’t often hear or read the stat in media reports about university graduates. Instead, you’re more apt to hear about the much higher youth unemployment rate, regardless of the level of education. And, the subjects who are interviewed to illustrate these stories are often university graduates working in jobs that don’t match their degree.
But, there are other sides to the story.
In a bid to provide a perspective that is largely missing in the national discussion about what we should be doing for university education and jobs, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada launched a website, UniversityWorks, featuring short videos of Canadian university graduates talking about the positive returns they got from their university education.
“These personal stories reinforce what the data has been telling us: even in a tough economy, a university education pays off,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president.
Most of the young people completed a degree one to 10 years ago. They describe their personal experiences at university, which usually included hands-on research, study-abroad opportunities and co-op placements, and how these prepared them for rewarding careers.
A recurring theme in the testimonials is that students need to seize the initiative to seek out the multiple opportunities that university has to offer and not wait for these to be handed out. Gabriel Lopez, a young Quebec entrepreneur with a communications degree who founded two organizations, says university “can open many doors and offer many resources, if I ask, and if I pose questions, and if I say what it is I need in terms of resources from the university.”
The first 10 videos were posted this week – five in English and five in French – and others will be added later in the fall. Canadians are also invited to share their own stories about their study-to-work transition by submitting short videos to the site. In an effort to put the spotlight on Canadian university education writ large, the first videos don’t specify which university the graduates attended, but people who send in their own are invited to say where they studied.
AUCC represents Canada’s 97 public and private not-for-profit institutions that grant degrees. It also is the publisher of University Affairs magazine and website.