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Education and employment in Alberta

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 30 March 2023 1 min read

With the last day of classes approaching for many post-secondary programs, it’s a good time to note the strong link between educational attainment and employment.

New data from Statistics Canada show that there is a 21 percentage point difference between the employment rate of Albertans aged 25-64 who have completed a post-secondary program (e.g., trade certificate, college diploma, university degree) and those who didn’t finish high school: 84% of post-secondary grads were employed in 2022 compared to 63% of Albertans who didn’t complete high school.

The gap narrows to 8 percentage points for those with a high school diploma, but the employment rate for this group was still substantially lower at 76%.

The gaps are, moreover, larger for those at the younger end of the age spectrum.

There is a 24 percentage point difference in the employment rate of Albertans aged 25-34 with a college/university credential compared to those who didn’t complete high school whereas the gap between the two groups is 13 percentage points among those aged 55-64.

For Albertans with a trade credential, the gap is 28 points for those aged 25-34 compared to 8 points for those in the 55-64 category.

At the same time, average incomes are higher among those with more formal education.

As of 2016, the average employment income of Albertans with a university degree was almost $50,000 more than for those without a certificate, diploma or degree and almost $40,000 more than for those with a high school diploma.

Having a trade certificate also makes a huge difference. Albertans with a trade credential earned an average of $40,400 more than those with less than high school and over $30,000 more than those with a high school diploma.

Completing a post-secondary program does not guarantee that you will get a good job and vice versa. The statistics, however, show that Albertans are a lot more likely to have a job—and have one that pays well—if they are able to attain a post-secondary credential.

Answer to the previous trivia question: There were 117,868 active businesses (i.e., those with at least one employee) in Alberta as of December 2022.

Today’s trivia question: What is a “fiscal” year?

Higher levels of educational attainment go hand in hand with higher employment rates

Higher levels of educational attainment go hand in hand with higher employment rates

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