When no jobs left students with no reason not to be in school

In 1983, a tough job market was making school an easy choice for a lot of post-secondary students.

1983 was a tough year to be looking for work, including for young people

A bad job market sends many to school

38 years ago
A tough employment market was spurring many young people to stay in school in 1983. 1:47

A tough job market was making school an easy choice for a lot of post-secondary students in 1983.

"One solution to not having a job is going to school," the CBC's Karen Webb told viewers at the start of her report on The National on Sept. 9, 1983.

"It won't make you any richer — at least not right now — but it beats sitting around."

According to Webb, university enrolment had hit a historic high that fall, as students across the country made a similar call on the state of the economy.

But the fact that more of them were on campus didn't necessarily mean that Canadian universities were staffing up to meet the demands that came with a growing population of students.

More students, the same number of teachers

Students across Canada were sticking with university studies in the fall of 1983, when the job market was a tough one for young people seeking work. (The National/CBC Archives)

"In Winnipeg, it means more students crammed into the same number of classes, taught by the same number of professors," said Webb, who filed her report from the University of Manitoba campus.

Webb's report also provided a quick glance at how the swell of students was affecting other campuses at that time.

At the University of Toronto, for instance, the school had raised its admission standards to limit the number of applicants. It then went up to having a minimum 75 per cent graduating average.

"If the economy doesn't improve, next year it could be higher," said Webb.

The reporter said it was clear to students that school couldn't help solve the larger problems in the economy, which they would be facing again soon.

"Eight months from now, they'll be back on the streets again, looking for a job," said Webb.

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