Although I believe most of us should pursue careers that we actually get some fulfillment out of, there will always be those who pick a career, job or profession because they want to make as much money as possible.
In other words, the salary is their motivator.
If you look at the cost of buying a house in Canada you can see why many young adults are doing just that.
Today, it takes a significant wage for most to own a home if they are just starting out. Although prices have dropped recently in Kelowna, over the past 20 years the cost of buying a home has risen. In 1994 you could purchase, on average, and depending on the age of the house and location, a home for about $170,000. Today that same house would probably sit at anywhere between $350,000 and $400,000.
The problem is that wages have not kept up with inflation – especially in the housing market.
To afford a $400,000 home you need about a $20,000 down payment.
You can expect to pay at least $1,500 a month, if not more, for your monthly mortgage payment. To qualify to buy this home (taking in account a number of factors such as taxes and other costs associated with home ownership), you would need to earn a minimum of $105,000 annually.
Right now the median pre-tax household income in Kelowna is around $50,000. For families with two adults and at least one child, this pre-tax income rises to around $82,000. Both of these incomes are significantly less than the $105,000 required to buy a house in Kelowna.
The probability is slim of a young adult who either just graduated from high school, college or university, securing a $105,000-a-year job. Many would have to consider renting, or continue to live at home, where they might be able to save enough money for a larger down payment.
If salary is to be the driver, the best options for students interested in only the money are engineering, health care and trades.
A recent report indicated that young men between 17 and 24 years of age who opted out of college and university and decided to work in the oil patch have seen a significant increase in their wages.
These wages have led to decreases in enrolments by men in post-secondary education in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Although I understand why a young adult would want to make a good wage, especially in light of the housing costs in Canada, I think the plan to go straight from high school to employment is short-sighted.
There are many certificate, diploma and degree programs in colleges and universities across Canada that can get you into well-paying jobs either working in the oil patch or working in an industry associated with it.
With a post-secondary credential chances are you will be one of the last to be laid off during any downturn and the one most likely to find employment elsewhere.
And that’s why if salary is driving your decision about what to take at college or university, it’s wise to invest energy in career planning that will help you secure long-term employment with a relatively good wage.
Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College. Comments can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org