Report highlights value of degree

Report indicates B.C. university degree is a proven path to employment.

A B.C. university degree is a proven path to employment, according to a report released by B.C.’s six research universities, which tracks the outcomes of the graduating class of 2008.

Called Putting Degrees to Work, the report uses student survey data collected by B.C. Stats showing that five years after graduating, the class of 2008 has lower unemployment rates and higher salaries than those who did not complete an undergraduate degree. Contrary to the view that university degrees aren’t relevant to today’s job market, the report shows that the vast majority of university graduates are working in fields related to their education.

“The class of 2008 graduated on the cusp of the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Andrew Petter, chairperson of the Research Universities’ Council of B.C.

“Today’s survey shows that the skills and knowledge these students acquired at a B.C. university prepared them to take advantage of the economic recovery.”

According to the report’s findings, the graduating class of 2008 had an unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent five years after collecting their degrees.  This number was well below the overall provincial unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent and the provincial youth unemployment rate of 12.9 per cent.  At the same time, those graduates were earning a yearly average of $60,000.

“Today’s economy is driven by creativity, innovation, and new ideas,” said University of B.C. president Arvind Gupta.

“That’s why the skills our students acquire are so important in today’s fast-changing labour market.”

In addition to tracking the Class of 2008, Putting Degrees to Work also shows how universities are responding to changing student demand.  Degrees in engineering, applied sciences and business have increased by 34 per cent since 2006.

“Today’s students are very savvy,” said University of Northern B.C. president Daniel Weeks.

“And they are choosing fields that are in high demand by employers.  That is leading to significant changes in university programming to meet the needs of today’s students. For example, at the University of Northern B.C., we are graduating more engineers than ever before, students who will be needed in B.C.’s emerging LNG industry.”

University of Victoria president Jamie Cassels said that the survey reflects what employers around the province are telling him.


“Many of B.C.’s leading job creators are looking for people with the kinds of skills that university teaches, from critical thinking to clear communication. That is one reason why we are seeing graduates in every program succeed in the job market.”