April 1, 2022
Terry MurphyWhen I hear about someone who drops out of any education program for whatever reason, I am deeply saddened and upset. While I understand there may be circumstances that prevent a person from continuing their education, my experience as a teacher is that many simply don’t truly understand the value of education. In this day and age, to me, education is priceless.

With much of education now held virtually, educators hopefully realize the quality of education has been somewhat lessened. I would like to explore the tangible and intangible aspects of this education to determine its value. Education helps you grow as a person, in your career, and in your life.

Dollar value

Can you put an actual dollar figure on the value of education? I believe you can. Personal placement firms, management consulting firms and many industry human resources professionals can tell you what salary or wage to expect for a given occupation depending on the individual’s education level.

With minimum wage in Ontario at $15 per hour, a 40-hour work week is worth $600. That translates to over $30,000 annually. A graduate of the Ontario Apprenticeship program will average between $18 to $20 per hour, earning them over $10,000 more per year than those without the added education.

Education has a definite, tangible value. It can be quantified. The more you have and the higher the standard, the higher the annual income you can obtain.

Is apprenticeship education?

I have always said that the best kept secret in education is apprenticeship training. Here are some of the important features of most apprenticeship programs:
  • 90 per cent of the training happens on-the-job by working in a particular trade (professionally trained).
  • 10 per cent of the training happens in a classroom (horticulture has two 12-week sessions).
  • Apprentices can qualify for Employment Insurance while attending the in-class portion.
  • Self-employment is easily achieved if one wants their own business.
  • Every skilled trade is looking for more qualified workers, so employment options are vast.
  • Tools are offered for free or at low cost.
Industry always has available apprenticeship positions and they are always in demand. Most trades also have better than average annual incomes. Apprenticeship education is low cost and very marketable in industry.

Comparing post-secondary education

Let’s assume you want to compare a four-year college or university program to an apprenticeship program. Those taking a college or university program are out of the employment picture for four years and are fortunate to get summer employment at minimum wage. In apprenticeship, you work for those four years at a competitive wage, and when you are completing your in-school portion of the training, you can receive Employment Insurance benefits. You are also building up your Canada Pension at the same time.

At the end of the four years, an apprentice has four more years of experience in their trade while the university graduate is starting from scratch. Many university educated people do not get hired in their field when they finish their four-year program. Since the apprentice has already been working for four years, they may be ahead in salary upon graduation.

Education is a choice

Please understand that I am certainly not against any higher education. Any high school student with good grades should definitely consider furthering their studies at a college or university. For those who are academically inclined and love to study, enrolling in higher education is a great path to take.

If you are not inspired by more years of academic studies, and like to work with your hands and build things, then apprenticeship is rewarding journey. Both routes come down to individual choice. Making the choice that fits your circumstance and loving what you do is what finding the right career is all about.


There is no wrong choice with post-secondary education. But what is wrong is not taking any opportunity to further your education once you complete high school. We are lifelong students and in a competitive and ever-changing world, continuing education is essential.
Terry Murphy CLM