Post-secondary education has become a necessary stepping stone to most sought-after jobs. However, most youth opt for a university degree, overlooking other routes entirely.
While universities account for the majority of post-secondary enrolment (59%), rising tuition costs and a growing desire for a job-friendly education have prompted interest in college degrees which teach a skilled trade.
Learning a skilled trade offers impressive earnings and a wealth of job opportunities, particularly in western provinces like British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. College enrolment is significantly less common than university, accounting for just 28% of enrolments nation-wide.
Still, those looking to pursue a college education can face difficulty raising the necessary funds, particularly if they’re struggling with student debt from a university degree or other qualification.
An apprenticeship offers a less expensive alternative to a college degree while allowing students to pursue a lucrative career path.
Studies conducted by Canadian universities and Industry Canada indicate that male apprentices stand to earn 2% more than college graduates.
Though it’s a slight difference, the earnings lead apprentices have over those who only complete a high school diploma is a much more substantial 24%.
A word of warning
There is a necessary gender distinction to be noted, as women generally gained less from pursuing an apprenticeship—in some cases meeting with less success than women who only complete a high school diploma.
However, the studies suggest that this discrepancy is largely due to gender segregation into low-paying industries. Women who pursued apprenticeships in male-dominated industries often stood to earn disproportionately more than their male counterparts.
Availability is also an issue. While many European countries have long-entrenched apprenticeship programs, they’re less common in Canada, accounting for just 13% of post-secondary traffic.
Many employers aren’t willing to offer an apprenticeship to someone with no training, and others prefer hiring workers with some college education or certification.
If you have a personal connection which could turn into an apprenticeship however, it’s well worth looking into.