As of late, Canada has become a Mecca for blue collar workers. The culprit is the employment explosion in the oil and gas, mining and construction industries. As a result, young men with only a high school education have been enjoying a rising rate in weekly earnings. In contrast, their university educated counterparts seemed to have thrown their student loans out the window. In the past five years, university grads saw their pay checks mostly shrink, not increase.
Apparently, according to a survey of Canadian workforce conducted last year, men between the ages of 25 and 34, having only a high school diploma, reported an increase in average weekly earnings of 5.2% in the past five years. An even more intriguing number was the one for young men without a high school diploma, who saw their wages rise 7.8% in the same period. All the while, in spite of what their parents might have told them, university graduates reported their average salaries shrink 2.8%.
Now, before kids today take these statistics as a ringing endorsement to drop out of school and not to pursue university degrees, there are two things they must also consider. First of all, whatever goes up must come down. The same applies to anything experiencing a steep growth curve, including blue-collars’ earnings growth. At this rate, similar earnings growth is hardly sustainable. The demand is likely to reach the critical mass in the near future, which, once it implodes, will drive the earnings growth down.
Then, although university grads saw their wages shrink, they still earned at least CDN$14,500 more than their high school dropout counterparts. Statistics Canada reported that a high school dropout earned, on average, $685.00 per week, a high school graduate earned $758.00 per week, while a university grad earned $802.00 per week.
As a parent, all I want for my child is to be happy. But, I also want him to be wise about his career choices. Every statistic has to be taken within a certain context and with all the relevant variables. In case of going after higher education, it is obvious that staying in school is a much more profitable decision in the long term, and for all concerned parties.