Opinion

Muskens: Higher employment found for those with certified job skills

It’s one thing to go to college or university; it’s another thing to get a job once you graduate.

And due to a recent study by the B.C. government, we now know there are some graduates who find employment in their field of study a lot faster than others.

In the study, the government interviewed 14,697 students who completed or almost completed a diploma, associate degree or certificate. Of these students, 69 per cent of them said their employment was very or somewhat related to their education.

Generally, students who completed a certificate in health, education or trades had the highest rates of employment in their field with 89 per cent in trades and 78 per cent in health and 60 per cent in education. In health and education, these would be students who completed programs in practical nursing, health care assistant, early childhood education and education assistant.

Trades students also fared better when it came to full-time vs. part-time employment. Ninety-five per cent of the trades students were working full-time in their field. Engineering and applied science students had a 93 per cent full-time employment rate of those who found jobs  compared to the health and education students where only 68 per cent found full-time employment.

As for pay, it was those who found jobs related to their program of study who garnered a higher hourly wage compared to those who had to take jobs outside of the occupation they studied. For example, students who completed a health program and found a job in their field on average earned $24 per hour compared to others in their class who earned $20 per hour doing another type of work. Across the board wages were on average $3 more per hour for those working in their field.

This statistic is important as it clearly illustrates that getting a credential has value in the workplace and can get you a job with higher pay.

This study also shows us that if a program leads to some kind of certification, such as the Trades Red Seal certification, or a certificate which allows someone to work as Licensed Practical Nurse, these tend to lead to higher employment rates because by law employers are required to hire nurses or certified trades people for specific work.

This is why many of Okanagan College’s trades and vocational programs go through rigorous certification reviews where government certifying bodies visit our college to make sure our programs meet the standards required to award students the credential that certifies them for employment in their field.

This week, Okanagan College will be holding graduation ceremonies in both Kelowna and Vernon for more than 500 students who will be awarded vocational certificates and diplomas. Most will already be working in their field and some will probably get multiple job offers—it will be up to them to decide what’s next, but the future looks promising.

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