Empirical data shows Ontario university graduates have the best labour market outcomes: COU’s new University Works report shows

Ontario university graduates have experienced the highest employment growth of any group of students over the last ten years, they are earning significantly more, and they are more likely to be working at a job related to their studies, empirical data shows.

University Works, a report released today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), analyzed the latest data to conclude that Ontario university graduates enjoy a lifetime of positive employment outcomes when compared to those with other types of education. The report was prepared by a senior policy analyst at COU, who is also an economist.

“This report uses empirical data to debunk anecdotal reports about unemployed and under-employed university students,” says Max Blouw, COU Chair and President of Wilfrid Laurier University. “The statistics show very clearly that a university education leads to success in the labour market.”

Key findings:

  • University graduates experienced the highest employment growth of any educational attainment group over the last decade
  • University graduates have low unemployment rates
  • University graduates’ earnings are significantly higher than for any other educational group, and these earning premiums start early in their careers
  • Ontarians are increasingly choosing a university education over other types of postsecondary education, and the labour market is absorbing the growth well
  • University graduates are more likely to be working at jobs related to their studies than are college graduates.

“COU has tested challenges to the value of a university education for the province of Ontario and found that no matter which way you look at it, university graduates succeed in the workplace,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO. “Ontario university graduates have higher employment rates and higher salaries than those with any other level of education. They also get jobs in their field of study.”

The report relied on data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, National Household Survey, Income Statistics Division and National Occupational Classification for Statistics. It also drew on data from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Ontario University Graduate Survey and Employment Profile.

Read the full University Works report here.

View COU’s University Works infographic here.


COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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