University grads and apprentices are equally happy beyond the school-to-work transition, study shows


According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), university graduates and graduates of apprenticeship/trainseeship programs are equally as happy beyond the school to work transition.

The study, undertaken by Mike Dockery, uses the Longitudal Surveys of Australian Youth to evaluate the relationship between self-rated happiness and level of education.

According to the study, entitled “Education and happiness in the school to work transition,” your university “glory days,” might have been just that. University students reported that their level of happiness declined once they finished university. Those who undertook a vocational apprenticeship or traineeship were happy during training with happiness continuing during the school-to-work transition.

Although university students are more likely to make more money, come from wealthier families and an overall environment that is “more conducive to happiness,” in the years following graduation, university students are more likely to be less happy than their less educated peers, “those who would gain a university degree are the happiest of all at high school and tend to be happier than average for the cohort up until around age 22 years.”

Beyond the school-to-work transition, university graduates and those who undertook an apprenticeship or trainseeship reported no significant difference in their self-rated level of happiness, “those with the lowest levels of educational attainment actually reported being happier than those who gained university degrees…However, by age 25 years there are no significant differences in average happiness by level of education,” the study concluded.

A recent university graduate myself, I felt a little bit better knowing that I’m not the only recent grad experiencing the post-grad blues. As Dockery’s study discovered, it will likely take university grads about three years to settle into their post-grad life and reach the level of happiness they felt during university.

Whether you are a university grad exploring your career options or an apprenticeship grad working in your field, the school-to-work transition is sure to be an exciting and stressful time involving many important decisions.

Check out these Career Incubator article for some tips on how to make the most of your school-to-work transition:

About the author

Nicole Wray is a Toronto, Canada-based online editor and freelance writer. She is a recent graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.