Getting to Work: Career Skills Development for Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates

The Conference Board of Canada, 102 pages, February 22, 2018
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The “barista with a BA” trope dominates popular discussion about graduates of social sciences and humanities post-secondary programs. This report examines post-secondary education’s role in improving the transition to employment for these graduates.

Document Highlights

While graduates in social sciences and humanities (SSH) programs tend to go on to rewarding careers, for many recent graduates there can be challenges when transitioning into the workplace. These challenges include difficulty articulating the value of the skills developed in their SSH program to employers, a lack of understanding of possible career paths, and limited work experience.

This report examines the short- and long-term career outcomes of SSH undergraduate degree holders. It discusses SSH graduates’ struggle to find meaningful employment. It examines how post-secondary institutions in Canada and the U.S. are responding with initiatives tailored to students in these programs. The report offers eight recommendations for post-secondary education stakeholders in Canada to help more SSH graduates succeed in their career goals.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1–Introduction

  • Introduction
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: The New Work-(Meaning of) Life Debate
  • Purpose of the Report
  • Methodology

Chapter 2–The Career Pathways of Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates

  • Where Are Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates Employed?
  • BAs Without Jobs? Employment Outcomes for Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates
  • Earnings
  • Job Satisfaction of Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates
  • Further Education After Undergraduate Program
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3–The Skills to Pay the Bills? Skills Development and Social Sciences and Humanities Programs

  • What Skills Do the Humanities and Social Sciences Develop?
  • Career Transition Challenges for Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates
  • Barriers to Successful Post-Secondary Education-to-Career Transitions

Chapter 4–Improving Transitions to Careers for Social Sciences and Humanities Graduates

  • Supplementary Initiatives
  • Immersive Skills Development Initiatives
  • Transformative Initiatives
  • Lessons Learned From Successful Career Development Initiatives

Chapter 5–The Skills to Succeed: Recommendations

  • Conclusion

Appendix A–Bibliography

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