Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Degree of difficulty finding employment

Some students say bachelor of arts isn't enough to land a career job

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Jeff Hadley spent four years reading Shakespeare plays and writing a pile of essays to obtain a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Manitoba.

But Hadley doesn't believe Shakespeare prepared him for a decent career outside of university.

"I was studying things that dated back to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. But I can't use the information practically," said the Winnipeg resident.

"I gained a lot of knowledge... But I don't see a career happening with the schooling that I have' -- Jeff Hadley

Hadley spent this past year looking for jobs related to his English major, but eventually the 24-year-old resorted to working for his family's painting business.

"I gained a lot of knowledge. I learned how to think critically and process information, as well as correct spelling and grammar," he said. "But I don't see a career happening with the schooling that I have."

The U of M alumnus is still paying off university debt, and doesn't plan on returning to school any time soon.

In June, Statistics Canada released a report saying 95,500 new jobs were created in Canada in May -- the majority full-time, and all in the private sector. It was the second-largest monthly job gain in decades.

But some university graduates in Winnipeg believe jobs are few and far between. When Kristen Coleman, 24, saw the giant anatomy textbooks at a friend's house, she was leery about applying for the nursing program at the U of M. But going back to school seemed like the only option to pay off the $16,000 she accumulated in student loans from her first degree -- a bachelor of arts in international development.

In 2012, Coleman graduated from the Canadian Mennonite University with her BA. She spent eight months looking for a full-time job in the private sector, but next month she is going back to school for nursing.

"There's a demand for nurses. Everyone that graduates gets a job, it's pretty solid," said Coleman. "It's really hard to get a job with international development studies. They mostly hire people more experienced and older. If I knew what I wanted when I started my degree, I would have gone straight into nursing."

In 2009, a survey performed by the council on post-secondary education in Manitoba found 88 per cent of Manitoba grads were employed six months after graduating.

The Canadian University Survey Consortium said in 2012 that one in three university grads had a job lined up right out of university, but 38 per cent of university grads were pessimistic about the job market within their field of study.

"Employers are looking for university graduates who can communicate and think critically, which can come from a business degree, bachelor of arts degree, or a bachelor of science degree," said Lynn Smith, executive director of student services at the U of M. "Canada needs workers in the knowledge field.

"Half of students (in Canada) plan to continue their education after the first degree for better job prospects," Smith said. "Society is changing and jobs can be scarce. They may be going back because of the economy."

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2013 B4

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