COVID came with career setbacks for many 2020 postsecondary grads: StatCan

Click to play video: 'Canadians under 30 ‘very unhappy,’ World Happiness Report finds'
Canadians under 30 ‘very unhappy,’ World Happiness Report finds
WATCH - Canadians under 30 'very unhappy,' World Happiness Report finds – Mar 20, 2024

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic came with career setbacks for many Canadians who graduated from postsecondary schools that year, new data shows.

Statistics Canada on Friday released its study, “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the postsecondary graduating class of 2020,” which paints a picture of what was facing those who had just entered or were readying to step into the workforce.

“Today’s release provides a first look at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on 2020 graduates three years after graduation,” it said.

What does the data show?

COVID-19’s origins trace back to December 2019, when the novel virus was first picked up in samples from Wuhan, China.

Story continues below advertisement

It quickly spread across the globe, and on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Poorest countries struggling post-pandemic, UN report finds'
Poorest countries struggling post-pandemic, UN report finds

In an immediate response, most countries, including Canada, implemented lockdowns to restrict virus spread. Over the next two years, those restrictions came and went, but it wasn’t until late 2022 when those measures were significantly eased.

During the pandemic’s first year, StatCan found roughly three in 10 graduates lost their job or were laid off, while a quarter had an employment prospect — such as a scheduled interview — cancelled.

About one in 10 graduates experienced a delay in the start date of a new job, or had a job with a confirmed start date cancelled.

COVID-19 also had impact on further education plans of 2020 graduates

StatCan said that three years after graduating, 32.4 per cent of 2020 postsecondary graduates pursed further education, compared with 39.7 per cent of 2015 graduates.

Story continues below advertisement

“The fact that fewer 2020 graduates had pursued further education three years after graduation than their 2015 counterparts may be the result of many factors,” StatCan said.

“The rapid shift to remote learning in postsecondary institutions which began in March 2020 and remained largely in place until the fall of 2021 may have contributed to some students deciding to cancel or postpone plans for further studies.”

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: Life expectancy has dropped 1.6 years, analysis finds'
Health Matters: Life expectancy has dropped 1.6 years, analysis finds

More than one in three of 2020 postsecondary graduates changed their plans for further education, the agency said. More specifically, 10.1 per cent of graduates delayed their further studies, 11 per cent decided not to pursue further studies and 9.4 per cent chose to pursue further studies.

“For some graduates, the pandemic appeared to have a lasting effect on their education plans,” StatCan said.

“For example, among the proportion of graduates who reported that they delayed their further education (10.1 per cent), 37.4 per cent had begun a new program within three years of graduating from their 2020 program.”

Story continues below advertisement

Why are impacts lingering?

Despite the labour challenges faced by the class of 2020, their employment rate three years after graduation (90.3 per cent) was similar to that of 2015 graduates (89.9 per cent), StatCan said.

Those in the 2020 graduating class who experienced pandemic-related changes to their employment status or employment plans were just as likely to be employed, but were less likely to be working full-time three years later (79.7 per cent) than those who did not experience these changes (83.8 per cent), it added.

Click to play video: 'Schools were not major COVID-19 transmitters with measures in place, review finds'
Schools were not major COVID-19 transmitters with measures in place, review finds

Furthermore, the 2023 unemployment rate for all 2020 graduates was more than twice as high (7.5 per cent) compared with those who did not experience changes of this kind (3.6 per cent).

Story continues below advertisement

When it comes to wages, three years after graduation, the median incomes (in 2023 constant dollars) of full-time employed college ($48,800), bachelor’s ($62,300) and doctoral ($87,600) graduates were similar to those of their 2015 counterparts.

On the other hand, among 2020 graduates, those whose employment status or employment plans were impacted by the pandemic in 2020 had a lower median annual employment income across all levels of education, ranging from 9.6 per cent lower for college graduates to 16.3 per cent lower for master’s graduates.

Sponsored content