An overwhelming 73 per cent of online poll respondents told the job site Workopolis that they work in jobs unrelated to their educational backgrounds, while 56 per cent said they are over-educated for their current jobs.
The Workopolis study also found that nursing students are most likely to find a job in their chosen field after graduation, while engineering students have the highest starting salary among all post-secondary graduates.
Tara Talbot, vice-president of human resources at Workopolis, says most people wind up with jobs unrelated to their education because the world is changing too fast for educational institutions to keep up. As a result, many are left to rely on “soft” skills like communication, problem solving and teamwork to land a job in an increasingly competitive job market.
“A lot of Canadians are telling us they’re not actually doing what they went to school for – at least, not directly,”
She added while a post-secondary education still holds value, it doesn’t always lead directly to employment.
“It’s no longer a direct line of sight,” Talbot said.
Instead, those with a strong foundation of soft skills are using those skills to gain a competitive edge.
“Employers are really looking for holistic employees who can jump in the deep end, be productive and perform right away,” Talbot said. That’s where the soft skills make a difference, she said.
However, professions with heavily-specialized training produced the most graduates working in the fields they studied. Nursing grads with a bachelor’s, masters or PhD degree found a job in their profession 97 per cent of the time. Graduates from pharmacy-training programs found jobs in their field 94 per cent of the time, followed by graduates with degrees in computer science (91%), engineering (90%) and human resources (88%).
Talbot said the need for nursing and pharmacy grads will continue to rise as the baby boomer generation grows older.
Engineering graduates earn the highest starting pay at an average annual salary of $76,000, according to Statistics Canada data used in the Workopolis study. Healthcare graduates earn the second-most at $69,600 a year, followed by computer science graduates ($68,000 a year) and law and math grads ($67,600).
However, the number of educated job-seekers is up across the board, according to the Workopolis study.
“Canadians are more educated in 2014 than they were 14 years ago,” Talbot said.
Today’s post-secondary students are in school 13 per cent longer than those who graduated in 2000, the study found. The number of people with a bachelor’s degree on their resume has gone up by 16 per cent, when compared to resumes from 2000. The number of graduates with a master’s degree has gone up by 43 per cent, while the number of people with PhDs has gone up by 25 per cent since 2000.
Talbot said the number of self-employed entrepreneurs is also on the rise, as individuals look for the job security of being their own boss. “People know that they’re not going to have a job forever, so they have to be more self-reliant,” she said.
The study says pharmacy, engineering, computer science and nursing careers are the safest careers to pursue.
According to the study, 24 per cent of English majors ended up with jobs in marketing, while 21 per cent go into arts and media and 15 per cent move into the education field. The most common jobs for English graduates are teacher, writer, editor, sales associate and marketing coordinator.
More than 3,600 people participated in the Workopolis poll, which was conducted on the organization’s website from May 15 to June 2. The company also consulted its vast database of resumes for employment data from 2000.