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Working Wise: The Value of an Education

Dear Working Wise,

My daughter isn’t planning to go to post-secondary. She doesn’t think there is any point. How can I convince her that it’s the right thing to do for her future?
Signed, Frustrated Father

January 18, 2017

Dear Frustrated,

Albertans with a post-secondary education tend to earn more and are more likely to be employed than those without a diploma or degree.

In 2015, 68% of high-school graduates were employed in Alberta compared to 76% of those with a post-secondary certificate or diploma. More than 81% of Albertans with a degree were employed according to Alberta Labour's Employment and Wages for Alberta Workers with Post-Secondary Education report.

According to that same report, the average Alberta high-school graduate earned $24.42 per hour in 2015 compared to $30.79 for those with a post-secondary certificate or diploma. Those with a degree earned $34.16 per hour on average.

The difference may not seem all that significant, but multiplied over a 40 year career a worker with a degree will earn nearly $1 million more on average than a worker with a high school diploma.

Alberta’s Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook 2015-2025 examines the anticipated supply and demand over the next decade for hundreds of different occupations. Top growth occupations include: construction and transporation managers, computer and information systems professionals, nurses, medical technologists and technicians, sales and service supervisors, childcare and home support workers, and others.

Nearly all of these in-demand occupations require post-secondary training.

Young Albertans have an opportunity to make the most of their future by ensuring that they have the skills that employers need.

However, not everyone is ready to attend a post-secondary program straight out of high school.

Young people can learn a lot about the world of work by spending a year in the workforce. It can also give them time to gather some career ideas, start an apprenticeship, start their own business, or develop an appreciation for the value of an education.

Encourage your daughter to explore her career options on the ALIS website. It’s full of helpful career planning tools, including

She can also call the Career Information Hotline, toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 (780-422-4266 in Edmonton), and speak to a career consultant.

She may discover the perfect career or program, like the skilled trades, where you spend 80% of your time learning, and getting paid, while on the job.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/Burlingham

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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