Popular post-secondary degrees aren’t where the jobs are, says OECD
Employment highest in engineering and construction, but enrolment numbers much smaller, says OECD report on developed nations.
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The most popular college and university programs are business, administration and law — but all the jobs are in engineering and information technology, says a new international report on education.
Following trends in the 30-plus other developed nations included by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about 29 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students are taking business and law, and about 11 per cent engineering, manufacturing, and construction.
While overall, university graduates still have much higher employment rates and earn more, engineering and information and computer technology sectors have the highest employment rates, the report says.
“(Post-secondary) enrolment is expanding rapidly, with very strong returns for individuals and taxpayers, but new evidence shows that universities can fail to offer, and individuals fail to pursue, the fields of study that promise the greatest labour-market opportunities,” said the OECD in a written release.
Its report “finds that business, administration and law are the most popular careers in countries surveyed, chosen by around one in four students. This compares to 16 per cent in engineering, construction and manufacturing, and less than 5 per cent of students study information and communication technologies, despite graduates in these subjects having the highest employment rate on average across OECD countries, exceeding 90 per cent in about a third of them.”
Deb Matthews, Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development, said the OECD report is further evidence that college and university “remains a worthwhile investment for students for their future” and noted the government’s new student aid program that provides students from lower-income homes with free tuition — they receive more in non-repayable grants than they have to pay in fees.
“Post-secondary education and training is a key pillar of Ontario’s economic strategy; seven out of every 10 new jobs created in Ontario are expected to require post-secondary education or training,” she said in a written statement to the Star.
“However, we know there is more to be done to prepare students with the skills they need for a changing economy, and that work must be done in collaboration with post-secondary institutions. We are working together with colleges and universities … to set the foundation for broader post-secondary education system transformation, including in areas like experiential learning, teaching quality and economic development.”
Another report released Tuesday found Ontario workers need to be better equipped to face the changing job market. The report, by the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, also urged that students not only learn “broader skill sets,” but for post-secondary institutions to make sure they get input from employers to help shape programming.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has warned that Ontarians are worried about their outdated job skills, saying what workers are trained for doesn’t necessarily match what employers are looking for.