Thursday, September 5th, 2013

College Students Choosing Low-Paying Careers Over High-Paying

High Paying Careers

CIBC World Markets paper offers suggestions as to why Canadians continue to flock to low-paying fields.

A recent research paper from CIBC World Markets suggests that while Canadians are highly educated, they’re still concentrating on degrees in careers that aren’t in demand and don’t pay well.

The paper states that, among all thirty-four Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada has the highest proportion of adults with a post-secondary education. However, Benjamin Tal and Emanuella Enanajor, authors of the paper, discovered that the number of Canadian university graduates making less than half the median income is also the largest among OECD nations.

Students Daunted?

The findings suggest a mismatch of skills.

“Most Canadians are aware that, on average, your odds to earn more are better with a degree in engineering than a degree in medieval history,” write Tal and Enanajor. “But it’s not clear that students, armed with that knowledge, have been making the most profitable decisions. With the exception of commerce, in the last 10 years we haven’t seen a meaningful influx of students into degrees with more advantageous earnings outcomes.”

45 per cent of graduates pursued degrees in such over-saturated fields as psychology, humanities, social sciences and education, where there is limited earning potential. The paper suggests that students are daunted by the challenge of pursuing more profitable degrees in areas such as engineering and science.

The paper states that students prefer to experience “the joy of learning a less-technical subject, rather than a focus on potential future earnings,” which drives the enrollment in low-paying fields of study. Females who pursue post-secondary education are “disproportionately represented” in arts and social sciences. The end result is an over-representation of post-secondary graduates in low-paying fields and a critical under-representation in high-paying ones.

Help Students Identify Labour Trends

Tal and Enanajor write that this imbalance may be corrected by “developing an information infrastructure system designed to identify emerging trends in labour market needs, improved quality and equity of learning opportunities, increased resources, improved system efficiency and increased private investment, in part, in the form of corporate investment.”

Interested in pursuing an education in engineering and science? Here are some schools that offer degrees related to one or both industries:

Linda Galeazzi
Author: Linda Galeazzi
Linda Galeazzi has been an online writer and proof reader for several years.
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