Student initiative needed

Universities can offer as many career resources as they want, but it doesn’t matter if students aren’t taking their own initiative.

A recent study found that Ontario university graduates are increasingly jobless, with employment rates far lower than before the late-2000s recession. Humanities graduates have experienced a significant drop in salaries, unlike their peers in business and engineering.

This comes as little surprise. Certain programs, such as engineering, have a clear career path set within their system.

This isn’t the case for humanities degrees, where the only clear path is delving further into academia — a route the majority of students won’t end up pursuing.

Universities need to play a more active role in facilitating the movement of students into the job market. This means updating their program offerings to offer degrees that address the demands and needs of the current market.

For existing degrees, more co-op and internship opportunities should be made available. Universities should also encourage or incentivize students to pursue extra-curricular activities, which can assist in gaining real skills. But, at the end of the day, the onus is on students to take ownership of their futures.

Recessions happen, as do fluctuations in the economy. There’s a reason why humanities students are repeatedly hit the hardest by these turns: their education doesn’t have a clear correlating skill set.

Many students pursue degrees that lead directly to academia, but to do so without a clear idea of what tangible skills they hope to gain from the degree, or what’s to follow. Students must plan for their future while at university, and exercise a certain flexibility afterwards.

In terms of location, this flexibility means going with the job market to other provinces and countries. It may also mean starting in a job that isn’t necessarily desired, developing contacts and networks and then moving on.

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