The Gig Economy and Post-Secondary...

The Gig Economy and Post-Secondary Students

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

As students near the end of high school, they tend to start thinking about what career to pursue after graduation. If you are at that point, you might be trying to decide which post-secondary program will suit you best. That might have worked in the past, but the gig economy has changed the future for post-secondary students.

The “gig economy” is a term that has become quite common in recent years. In the past, many people had jobs that lasted an entire career, or at least for many years. They would work in one office or with one company for much or all of that time.

In the gig economy, however, many people work for many different employers. The work tends to be temporary and often flexible or freelance work. People might work for five or more employers at once, or they might work for a series of employers. Some jobs might be full time for a few weeks or months, but other jobs might be only a few hours a week.

The gig economy has been growing in recent years. About one million Canadians are currently struggling to pay their bills by working at several jobs rather than at one main place of employment. For post-secondary students, this situation means rethinking the way that they prepare for the future, especially as they choose the educational path for the future.

Post-secondary education can be expensive. Tuition fees vary from one province to another and are lower for students in undergraduate programs like bachelor’s degrees than for people in graduate programs like master’s or PhD degrees. In 2022-23, the average undergraduate tuition was $6,834, although some fields like engineering and business management cost more. Graduate studies tend to be more expensive than undergraduate courses, and professional programs like medicine cost the most, sometimes more than $23,000 per year.

With these costs, students need to consider the benefits and drawbacks of studying after high school. They need to think about what they hope to get from a post-secondary program and how realistic their goals are. For example, career prospects are important considerations. Experts often say that the large number of upcoming retirements means that jobs will be available for younger people, but no one can predict exactly when and how that change will happen.

One issue is changing technology. In libraries, for example, staffing needs have changed largely because of the information available online. Librarians and library technicians might need to work at several locations to be able to earn a living, or they could use their knowledge of information sources and retrieval to work as consultants for companies that need better ways of organizing documents. Before deciding to spend thousands of dollars on a library-related education, students should consider whether another field might be better.

Many workers in Canada combine a part-time regular employment with several short-term jobs. A few careers, such as medicine and law, tend to be stable jobs, but they can be very busy and stressful in themselves.

Post-secondary students should consider their strengths and weaknesses, including how much pressure they can manage, to deal with the gig economy. With careful consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of their choices, post-secondary students can make the best choices possible to deal with the current situation.



Ching, Ping, et al. “Paid Employment, Self-Employment and Gig Work in Administrative and Survey Data.” https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2023003-eng.htm.

Investopedia. “Gig Economy: Definition, Factors Behind It, Critique & Gig Work.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gig-economy.asp.

Mullin, Malone. “2 Jobs, 2 Side Hustles, and Never Enough Cash: How the Gig Economy Is Wearing This Banking Intern Thin.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/the-grind-gig-economy-1.7040910.

Statistics Canada. “Tuition Fees for Degree Programs, 2022/2023.” https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220907/dq220907b-eng.htm.

Leave a comment!