In the last 20 years, the proportion of workers between 25 and 34 with university degrees has gone up 20 percentage points, says Statistics Canada.
And women are surging ahead in education. Between 1991 and 2011, the number of women with degrees went from 19% to 40%, while it went from 17% to 27% for men.
Over the same period, the proportion of young male and female workers in professional occupations—those that require a university education—also rose, growing from 18% to 28% among women and from 13% to 18% among men.
Correspondingly, the proportion of young men and women who worked in occupations requiring a high school education or less was down, declining from 48% to 36% among women and from 42% to 33% among men.
Other workers were in management occupations (8% of women and 11% of men) and in occupations requiring a college degree or an apprenticeship (28% of women and 38% of men). These proportions did not vary substantially over the period.
The three most common occupations held by young women with a university degree were registered nurses, elementary school and kindergarten teachers, and secondary school teachers—preferences that haven’t changed since 1991. These occupations accounted for more than 20% of all female university graduates in both years.
Among men with a university degree, the three most common occupations in 2011—computer programmers and interactive media developers, financial auditors and accountants, and secondary school teachers—accounted for 11% of these young working men. Similar occupations topped the list of young male university graduates in 1991.
Among those without a university degree, the top occupation in 2011 was that of retail salesperson and sales clerk, which accounted for 4% and 3% of women and men in this group respectively. The next two most common occupations were carpenters and truck drivers for men, and early childhood educators and assistants and general office clerks for women.
The proportion of women grew in many occupations between 1991 and 2011. This was especially true among university-educated workers. Among university graduates, the proportion of women rose among health policy researchers, consultants and program officers (up from 47% to 76%); specialists in human resources (up from 57% to 78%); and general practitioners and family physicians (up from 43% to 62%).