New Brunswick

New Brunswick has highest proportion of young college graduates in Canada: census

New Brunswick has the highest proportion of young college graduates in the country, but the lowest percentage of young people with a university degree, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday.

Province has lowest percentage of people aged 25 to 34 with a university degree in Canada

Nearly 29 per cent of New Brunswickers had a college diploma as their highest level of education in 2016, which is higher than the national figure of nearly 22 per cent. (Darrin Phegley/The Gleaner/The Associated Press)

New Brunswick has the highest proportion of young college graduates in the country, but the lowest percentage of young people with a university degree, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday.

But one level of education isn't taking away from the other, according to Carlos Rodriguez, an analyst and economist at the centre for education statistics at Statistics Canada.

"It's just more people are going for higher education in general," he said, noting the 2016 census data shows increases in both categories over 2006 and a decrease in the number of people without any degree, diploma or certificate.

And those qualifications appear to be paying off, said Rodriguez, with many young New Brunswickers landing jobs in their fields and "respectable" earnings.

Atlantic provinces rank top 4 for college grads

In 2016, the proportion of New Brunswickers aged 25 to 34 who reported a college diploma as their highest educational qualification was 28.5 per cent, the census data shows.

That's up from 27.7 per cent a decade ago and significantly higher than the national average of 21.6 per cent.

New Brunswick pulled ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I., which both previously had higher proportions of young college-diploma holders, said Rodriguez.

In fact, New Brunswick was the only Atlantic province to see growth in terms of young college grads between 2006 and 2016.

Nevertheless, all of the Atlantic provinces fared well in this category, dominating the top four spots in Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador boasted the second highest proportion in the country at 27.7 per cent, P.E.I. was a close second at 26.4 per cent, followed by Nova Scotia, at 24.8 per cent, tied with Ontario.

More bachelor-degree holders

Area 2016 College diploma Bachelor's degree Above bachelor's degree
Canada 21.6 24.7 10.2
NL 27.7 20.3 7
P.E.I. 26.4 25.5 7.7
N.S. 24.8 25 8.7
N.B. 28.5 20.9 6.2
Canada 2006 22.8 20.4 8.5
NL 28.9 15.6 5
P.E.I. 29.8 17.4 5.1
N.S. 25.3 20.4 7.1
N.B. 27.7 17 4.7
Canada Difference -1.2 4.3 1.7
NL -1.2 4.7 2
P.E.I. -3.4 8.1 2.6
N.S. -0.5 4.6 1.6
N.B. 0.8 3.9 1.5

Young people in New Brunswick were the least likely of all the provinces to hold a bachelor's degree or higher in 2016 at 27.1 per cent.

By comparison, the national average was 34.9 per cent.

Still, it represented a big jump over 2006 when only 21.7 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 25 to 34 held either a bachelor's degree; a university certificate or diploma above bachelor level; a degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry; a master's degree or a doctorate.

"What it tells me is that young people in New Brunswick are increasingly attracted to college-level education," said Rodriguez.

"At the same time, however, there still is an increase at the bachelor's level or above, so it's not like there's people necessarily choosing college over bachelor's — you see increases at both levels."

Aging population prompts health-care studies

New Brunswick has a high percentage of young people studying in health fields, second only to Newfoundland and Labrador. (Shutterstock)

Many young New Brunswickers are choosing their fields of study wisely, according to Rodriguez.

Health care skills, for example, have become increasingly important to the labour market, particularly in the Maritimes, which experienced the sharpest increase in seniors in 2016, he said.

"It's interesting that given the more rapidly aging population in the Maritimes, this region also tends to have the highest proportion of bachelor graduates that studied in health-related fields."

In New Brunswick, 14.9 per cent of young bachelor-degree holders graduated from a health field, more than double the national rate of 7.3 per cent.

Among young women, this was even more pronounced, said Rodriguez. About 19 per cent of young women with a bachelor degree in New Brunswick studied nursing, compared to about 9.5 per cent of young woman across Canada.

At the national level, 95 per cent of nurses work in health occupations, which is the highest degree of job-match of all fields of study, he said.

Nursing is also one of the top-paying fields at the national level, he added.

Education and earnings

While New Brunswick had fewer university-educated young people in 2016 than other provinces, bachelor degree-holders in the province enjoyed strong earnings compared to those with lower levels of education, said Rodriguez.

The median annual earnings of New Brunswick women aged 25 to 64, for example, was $65,219 — about 85 per cent more than women with a high school diploma and almost 60 per cent more than women at the college level, he said.

At the national level, women with a bachelor degree earned $68,342 annually — about 60 per cent more than those with only high school, and about 40 per cent more than college graduates.

"So you can see the advantage of obtaining a bachelor degree in New Brunswick is substantially larger," he said.

New Brunswick men aged 25 to 64 with a bachelor's degree earned $74,252, the figures show.

Those with apprenticeship certificates, also known as a certificate of qualification or a journey person designation, had the next highest median annual earnings at $58,631, followed by college diplomas, $57,922, and high school graduates, $45,895.

Trades on rise

Newfoundland and Labrador saw the proportion of young men with apprenticeship certificates jump from 5.9 per cent to 12.6 per cent in the past decade, likely largely due to the oil and gas sector, according to a Statistic Canada analyst. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

The number of young men in New Brunswick with apprenticeship certificates was up last year compared to 2006, at 6.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

That mirrors the national picture of 7.8 per cent of young male Canadians holding apprenticeship certificates, up from 4.9 per cent.

The Atlantic provinces experienced a similar upward trend, with the exception of P.E.I., which dipped slightly.

Newfoundland and Labrador saw the biggest jump to 12.6 per cent from 5.9 per cent, while Nova Scotia's rate was 6.1 per cent, up from 4.8 per cent. Only P.E.I. bucked that trend at 4.5 per cent, down from 4.8 per cent.

High school highest level for 27%

A total of 27.6 per cent of young New Brunswickers had a high school or equivalency certificate as their highest level of education in 2016.

That's a higher than the other Atlantic provinces — P.E.I. 26.5 per cent, Nova Scotia 24.6 per cent, Newfoundland and Labrador 22.3 per cent — and higher than national average of 22 per cent.

But New Brunswick had the smallest growth in this category from 2006, when the figure was 27.3 per cent, which makes the increase statistically insignificant, said Rodriguez.

By comparison, P.E.I. was 25.2 per cent, Nova Scotia 22.1 per cent ,and Newfoundland and Labrador 21.5 per cent

The Canadian rate was relatively unchanged from a decade ago when it was 22.5 per cent.

No degree, diploma or certificate

Almost eight per cent of New Brunswickers had no degree, diploma or certificate, down from 11 per cent in 2006.

All of the Atlantic provinces saw marked decreases, particularly Newfoundland and Labrador, where the rate was almost halved at eight per cent, compared to 14.7 per cent.

P.E.I. dropped to 6.6 per cent from 11.9 per cent and Nova Scotia, 7.4 per cent  from 11.5 per cent.

Nationally, the figures were 8.7 and 10.8 respectively.