When fourth-year hit, I found some of my most intelligent and capable friends expressing increasing uncertainty about their futures. As the end of exams approached, they doubted whether their decision to write essays and read novels for four years as ArtSci ’12s was indeed a sound one.
We’re bombarded with statistics about high unemployment rates for new graduates, especially for those equipped with Arts degrees, explaining my friends’ fears.
As recent articles in Maclean’s and Canadian Business magazines announced, the best jobs are to be found in the oil fields of Alberta. This is because, according to Canadian Business magazine, employment for oil engineers has increased by 85 per cent between 2006 and 2011, with some of the highest starting salaries in the country.
With students graduating with large debts and limited job prospects, guaranteed employment and large salaries are undeniably very attractive.
But can a good job really be defined solely by money and guarantee of work?
I’d like to borrow an idea from David Ricardo’s concept of comparative advantage, a theory that outlines how an economy should specialize in what they can produce most efficiently and cheaply. It’s an idea that’s meant to increase productivity in an economy — an idea that should also be transferred to how young people pick careers and university degrees.
The reason I didn’t pursue a degree in engineering was because I’m no good with math, chemistry or physics and quite frankly, I have very little interest in the field. Even if I were to become an oil engineer, I probably wouldn’t make a very good one and I certainly wouldn’t enjoy going to work every day.
People should be working in jobs that they have a comparative advantage in, meaning jobs that they are both good at and that they enjoy.
There’s no way to define what the best job is, but, there is such a thing as the best job for you. Ultimately, people shouldn’t sacrifice their talents and sanity for the sake of financial security.
While this idea may seem idealistic, especially with the current economic climate, I still believe that people should find their economic niche in which they can capitalize on their talents, and thus, maximize what they give back to society.
This editorial has been updated to reflect the following clarification: David Ricardo theorized the concept of comparative advantage.
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