Study: Career decision-making patterns of Canadian youth and associated postsecondary educational outcomes, 2000 to 2010

How consistent are the career choices of Canadian youth?

Statistics Canada is shedding some light on this question with the results of a new study on the consistency of career decision-making in Canadian youth. Essentially, the study looks at career expectations among Canadian youths from the age of 15 to 25: how often do those expectations change, what are the factors that increase consistency, and what impact do consistent career expectations have on academic attainment?

The study makes a number of important conclusions about young Canadian’s career decision-making patterns:

  • The majority of 25 year olds are uncertain about their career choices, a finding that is consistent across both genders.
  • Youths whose parents placed a high importance on postsecondary education (PSE) were more likely to have consistent career expectations between the ages of 15 to 25.
  • Earlier consistency in career decision-making was associated with earlier entry into PSE.
  • Youths who demonstrated consistency in career expectations were more likely to complete PSE at the level of Bachelor’s degree or higher by the age of 25.

The study uses data collected from the Youth in Transition Survey, a longitudinal survey conducted jointly by Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The data collection period ran from 2000 to 2010 using the same respondents who were 15 years of age in 2000.

Career practitioners may find these results helpful, especially when working with young adults. While it is not uncommon for Canadian youths to feel uncertain about their future careers and to make changes throughout adolescence and even into early adulthood, the study points to some of the important factors that can contribute to greater certainty around career decision making for young people.