Double cohort to give the economy a boost?
By Anton Vidgen
Ontario’s economy will see a GDP boost of about 1.2
per cent over 10 years as double cohort students flood the
province’s workforce, according to a report released
Tuesday by a TD Bank economist.
“I fully expect this employment gain to be a permanent
one,” said the report’s author, Eric Lascelles,
adding about 62,000 full-time jobs will be created as a result
of the elimination of Grade 13. “[But] we won’t
see a big boost in employment.”
Though unemployment may marginally increase, Lascelles said
employment gains will more than offset this slight jump, assuming
the labour can be absorbed without detrimental effects elsewhere.
Given that double cohort students will seeks jobs at various
stages — such as immediately after Grade 12 or after
university — jobs will be spread out over a longer period
of time. “It will be a smooth transition,” he said.
Most businesses that employ full-time students will benefit
from the larger employment pool, but Lascelles said those that
rely on part-time students may suffer slightly from a smaller
high school population — which is traditionally a large
source of part-time employees.
But with all the increased competition, Lascelles said students
who pursue post-secondary education will be in a better position
to secure employment. “University students have a leg
up,” he said. “In general, a university degree
is becoming more and more valuable.”
Skilled workers will also be in demand as large chunks of
the baby boom generation retires, Lascelles said, adding the
double cohort will not be able to make up for the lost employment
alone. “It will not fully offset [the baby boom retirement]
by any means,” he said.
Lascelles called on the Ontario government to consider how
they can best benefit from the double cohort and also challenged
universities to maintain high curriculum standards in order
to continue producing proficient workers.
Even with the myriad of jobs potentially available over the
next decade, some are not convinced the benefits are as easy
to come by.
“The personal touch is what will get you the job,” said
Erin House, a career counsellor with the Student Development
Although House acknowledges that the double cohort will have
a definite impact on the province’s employment levels,
she said the state of the market will make it tough for students
to find jobs of different varieties.
“Based on what I see in the report, it is good news
for students,” said Dave Ford, VP-education for the University
Students’ Council, adding students with a university
degree stand to gain the most.
“The quality jobs out there demand higher education,” he
said. “We’re entering a knowledge-based economy
where you need to have obtained an education that goes beyond
what you learned in secondary school.”
But Ford said the report fell short in addressing the kinds
of jobs that will actually be available.
Though Lascelles said it is hard to predict the variety of
jobs, he acknowledged that wages may suffer slightly as a result
of the increased competition. “[We] might see a tiny
bit of softness in wages.”