A new study from Statistics Canada shows that one-third of young Canadians who graduated with a university degree in humanities are overqualified for their current employment.

The study, released Wednesday, showed that the rate of overqualified men and women depended on their field of study.

In contrast, fewer than 15 per cent of graduates with a university degree in education, health, architecture and engineering were overqualified, Statistics Canada found.

According to the study, 18 per cent of university graduates aged 25 to 34 were overqualified in 2011. These proportions have changed little since 1991, despite the large increase in university graduates over the 20-year period.

Employees who were above the age of 30 and those with master's or PhD degrees were less likely to be overqualified in their work, the study found. Also, young workers in Quebec were less likely to be overqualified than those living in Ontario.

The study looked at census information from 1991 to 2006, and data from the 2011 National Household Survey.

Between 1991 and 2011, young Canadians aged 25 to 34 were more likely to be employed in a professional occupation, as the proportion that graduated from university jumped from 19 to 40 per cent among women, and 17 to 27 per cent among men.

Top professions for university grads

In 1991 and 2011, the most common occupation held by young Canadian women remained unchanged. More than 20 per cent of women who graduated from university in both years became employed as:

  • Registered nurses
  • Elementary and kindergarten teachers
  • Secondary school teachers

Among men with a university degree, the three most common occupations in 2011 were:

  • Computer programmers / interactive media developers
  • Financial auditors and accountants
  • Secondary school teachers

Those professions accounted for 11 per cent of young working men. Similar occupations topped the list of young male university graduates in 1991.

New study shows computer, language skills are high priorities

While more young men and women are graduating from university than ever before, a new survey shows less than half of Canadians feel that students are better prepared for their future careers.

A new poll from the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan shows only 42 per cent of Canadians believe we're doing a better job today to prepare students for their future careers compared to past generations.

The vast majority of Canadians (90 per cent) say science, technology, math and engineering are the most important subjects needed to prepared students for future careers.

The CST poll showed that 79 per cent of those surveyed said computer skills are the most important subject for student career development, followed by language skills (64 per cent), science (60 per cent) and math (57 per cent).

The survey was completed between January 27 and January 29 with a sample of 1,503 Canadians who were 18 and older.