The Impact of Education

By: Jessica Georgievski

Why Do Canadians Work?

Over time, working and having a job has become a way to define social status among Canadians. In its most simplistic form, work is necessary to survive. It's also an integral part of a person's identity.
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The Importance of Education

Literacy is the ability to read and write, which is closely linked to things such as overall quality of life, poverty, health, etc. For an individual, possessing basic literacy skills provides greater access to higher education and higher paying employment. At the national level, having a population with adequate literacy skills is necessary to compete in the global market. However, Canada is facing a literacy crisis. Today, almost half of the adults in Canada--48 percent-- have below-standard literacy skills. The Canadian Council on Learning is predicting that, by 2031, this number will remain almost unchanged at 46 percent. That represents 15 million Canadians who do not have the literacy skills needed to get by in modern society. The number of adults possessing high literacy skills is said to increase by 2031, although not significant enough to make up for the amount of people with below-standard skills. Literacy brings a sense of self-confidence to individuals and empowers learners to take individual and collective action in their households, workplaces, and in the greater community. Self-reliance and control over every day situations is another benefit of being educated and literate.
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The Link Between Education and Employment

Although Canadian workers face pay differences, Canada is also focused on a knowledge-based economy. This means that to qualify for work in today's economy, additional training in a post-secondary institution is necessary. The cost of this is expensive. According to Statistic Canada, on average, university tuition in 2010 cost $5138, and medical school tuition cost $10 244 in 2011 (CBC, 2011). At some universities, international students pay up to $20 000 a year for an undergraduate degree and tuition can reach as high as $40 000 for professional programs such as medicine and law (Canadian Federation of Students, 2009).

These continuously growing cost for education will limit the number of people who can afford to learn the skills needed to enter higher-paying professions, and the divide between the "haves" and "have-nots" will continue to increase. Government funding of post-secondary has reduced which means the schools must find alternative sources of income (CBC, 2011). As a result, tuition fees are increasing.
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It is clear that not having a high school diploma is a disadvantage to a worker when seeking employment. in 2009, the employment rate for people with less than a high school education was 55%, compared to 77% for a high school diploma. The employment rate for those with non-university certificates and community college diplomas was 81% and 82% for those with a bachelor's or master's degree (Council of Ministers of Education Canada, 2011).
Obama Stresses Link Between Education, Economy

Challenges

The primary challenge facing young workers is getting into the workforce. The unemployment rate for those aged 15-24 was 14.7 percent in February 2012, nearly double the unemployment rate for all Canadians (Fong, 12). This age group has accounted for half of the job losses during the recession, although they only make up 16% of the workforce. It is common that young adults are competing for jobs against peers as well as facing competition with those who lost their jobs during the recession whom possess more work experience. Due to this, many young adults decide to go back to school to keep their skill set current or obtain new skills that assist in broadening opportunities and help prepare the individuals for when the job market opens up. A higher level of education is correlated to higher salaries over an individual's lifetime. While young adults may have trouble with starting out, a post-secondary education will help further assist them.
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The Impact of Globalization

Economic systems worldwide require money to function. To gain access to more money, people often seek training so they can get higher-paying jobs, but access to this training is limited to people who have the means to pay for it. When fewer jobs are available and the ones that are available are more difficult to obtain, employers can demand more from the people applying for work. Technology and globalization are two major factors contributing to the difference in wages. Information technology has eliminated many middle-level jobs such a filing and administration. Globalization has allowed companies to move high-paying manufacturing jobs to countries that pay lower wages to their workers. This helps keep company profits high and costs low. Workers must now compete on a global level, and the top workers in a given field can demand higher compensation for their work as it is being sold on a global market. On the other hand, workers are experiencing a weakening of income as they face the threat of their work being outsourced to others who are willing to accept a lower pay. Karl Marx views this as the bourgeoisie having power and control over the means of production to maintain the exploitation of the working class as they are unable to fight back in fear of losing their jobs over complaining of pay discrepancies.
The Importance of Pursuing a Higher Education

Theories, Perspectives and Methodologies

Employment plays a crucial role in understanding who a person is because people often define themselves through their occupation. Understanding the motivations for choosing an occupation tells a lot about someone's personality.

George Herbert Mead's "I" and "Me" theory is about how we view and present ourselves in social situations. Mead believes the mind is defined through a set of mental processes. People observe gestures from others and react according to what they observe. Through employment, a person understands himself or herself in the context of the workplace. The person's actions, after they happen, become part of who they are. To understand the individual, the context of the work environment must also be understood. Therefore, to understand a person, it is important to understand his/her environment as it is always influencing an individual's identity.

Charles Cooley's Looking-Glass Self theory is used as an explanation on how identity and personality were created through social interaction. The three main components are: envisioning how we appear to others, envisioning the judgement of that appearance, and developing our sense of self. Returning to the theory that employment defines a person, Cooley's theory can be applied to this. An unemployed person looks to see the social reactions of people in his/her environment to help modify his/her behavior. For example, a person may seek to find a steady income to meet social expectations.

Max Weber theorized that identity is defined through the work we perform. Weber noticed the great change in the organization of society in regards to work. People worked to develop trade and enterprises while increasing personal wealth and investment. An example is reflected in the cyclical nature of workplace advancement. Earning more money may lead to elevated spending on lifestyle as an individual feels entitlement of these luxuries.

Karl Marx's theory of Value and Alienation was the idea that the value of a commodity is related to the cost of production necessary to produce or obtain it. The more manufacturing involved in producing an item, the greater labor cost to produce it. Specialized labor is refined to promote maximum output from workers. The more highly skilled a worker is, the higher the income, the greater the importance in the community, and thus the more social status that person has within the greater society. With title and position come social benefits and the social belief that the person is more valuable compared to the general population. Marx's theory was based on the belief a person's entire fate was determined by his/her social class position.

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, physiological needs must be met, so that individuals are able to focus on attaining safety needs such as job security, health benefits, and health care. When these needs are met, an individual may focus on other important needs.

Festinger's Social Comparison theory states that individuals routinely compare themselves with others when they are unable to judge their status and abilities on their own. This can blur the line between necessities and luxuries as individuals begin to define their identity in terms of the items they own. Those without the education and employment are unable to keep up or afford this lifestyle.

A growing trend in Canadian households is the large number of young adults who remain in the parental home during their post-secondary education or return to it after their studies are completed. This growing group known as fledgling adults is recognized for their difficulty leaving the parental home. The young adults who, for various social, economic, and/or emotional reasons, choose to stay in the parental home. The reasons may be due to increasing cost of living in our society and the inability to develop financial independence.
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Research Analysis

The connections between the information gathered from my survey and my topic proves that to be qualified to work in this economy, additional training in a post-secondary institution is necessary. Paying for this training is expensive. On average, university tuition in 2010 cost $5136 and medical school tuition cost $10 244 in 2011. These growing costs in Canada clearly limit the number of people who are able to afford education and thus are unable to learn the skills needed to enter higher-paying professions, and the divide between the have and have-nots will increase. Government funding of post-secondary continues to decrease, while the tuition fees continue to increase in return. My survey clearly emphasizes the importance of having an education when seeking employment. The employment rate for those with no university/college experience was significantly lower than those who had experience. Students who are unable to have a complete education are less likely to have earning potential later in life.
First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on The Power of Education
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Impact of Education on Individuals

Much of the benefit of higher education applies to individual students and their families. For example, average earnings increase measurably with higher levels of education. Over their working lives, typical college graduates earn about 73 percent more than typical high school graduates, and those with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much as high school graduates. Higher educated people are less likely to be unemployed and less likely to live in poverty. Higher education improves quality of life in many different ways. For example, in addition to increasing the material standards of living, there is less risk of poverty, less psychological implications of unemployment. There are proven benefits that adults with higher levels of education are more likely to engage in volunteer work, to vote, and to do positive things such as donate blood. As well as children of highly educated adults are more likely to read and often have higher cognitive skill levels and contain better concentration skills.