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by the University of New Brunswick 

The University of New Brunswick is conducting an analysis of post-secondary student retention and labour market outcomes in the province through a collaborative project funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). 

The New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training is working with the provincial departments of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, and Education and Early Childhood Development to complete an analysis of New Brunswick students, their educational experiences and transition into the workforce.  

The information collected could have a valuable impact on future educational programming that would benefit New Brunswick for years to come by training the future workforce for the type of roles required by local businesses, as well as increased earning power for individuals and communities.   

“New Brunswick is going to have serious labour shortages as the population ages,” says Ted McDonald, director NB-IRDT, “and we need to know whether our current education and training systems are going to meet that need. ”For years, educational institutions at all levels and government departments have been collecting data separately,” he says. “The only way to accurately measure the connections between early childhood education, school, higher-education and the labour market is to link all these data sources.” 

Dr. McDonald and his team have now collated that data and are looking at the efficacy of educational programs and initiatives, and whether or not they are meeting their desired outcomes.  

A key component will be the examination of student retention, how those students are doing in the labour market when they graduate and how suited their skills are to New Brunswick’s labour needs. 

“Are students getting the right training for the New Brunswick labour market?” asks Dr. McDonald. “Can they find employment here, or are they leaving the province to find work? Who’s returning to New Brunswick, and why? What can we do to keep them here in the first place? These are just some of the questions this study will address.” 

Because returns can accrue many years after an investment is made, many jurisdictions find it difficult to properly evaluate new educational programs, policies and projects. 

This can be additionally complicated in a small province like New Brunswick, where a substantial percentage of students who go through the provincial education system end up working in other provinces, yet Dr. McDonald says there’s also a homing instinct among New Brunswickers. “Research shows that they’re more likely to return home than those who come from away,” he says. 

The analysis is using administrative data sources both at NB-IRDT and, in future phases, the Statistics Canada NB Research Data Centre at UNB. 

The Government of Canada, through ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program, provided a non-repayable contribution of $137,775 to support the project. 

“The holy grail for any program evaluation is to link health, education, training and social data,” says Dr. McDonald. People do not experience life in silos. By combining this data, the study will provide decisionmakers with evidence from a robust comprehensive dataset that hasn’t previously been available. 

I’m confident this study will inform policy and serve as a launching pad for more detailed research on education and training outcomes in this province that will have a profound impact on New Brunswick businesses and the region’s future economic health.”  

Learn more about UNB’s innovative and ground-breaking research at

The University of New Brunswick is Canada’s oldest English-language university. Founded in 1785, the multi-campus institution has a rich history and a dynamic focus on innovation, experiential learning and entrepreneurship.

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