Reconciling study and work: reality check

The need to balance studies and work is no longer doubted by anyone: it has become a global reality that can only increase, particularly in Canada and especially in Quebec. Aside from the benefits, a young person also must know the consequences that can be felt in his work, studies and personal life. What are they, in particular?


Here are some very interesting data from a study conducted among full time students aged 15 to 24 years on the basis of studies from September to April and between 1976 and 2010. Student jobs across Canada show disparities between areas east of Ontario, where employment rates are lower and the Western Provinces, including Ontario, with higher rates (in 2011, Newfoundland and Labrador had an employment rate among students of 27.5%, while the rate for Manitoba was 43.5% and 38.7% average for Canada). Progress has been very high in Quebec between 1980 and 2010 with an increase of 13 points (27% to 40%); the province has somehow regained a significant delay in comparison to the other provinces, which have seen more stable employment rates, around 35% until the 2000s to climb to 38% between 2000 and 2010.


The study shows that not only are there always more young people working but that the time spent at work is increasing. It’s impossible to put a limit in place to protect academic success – there are too many variables (age, sex, level of studies, strenuousness of the work, time of year, etc.). However, specialists have noted that there is a threshold, 15 hours in the 1990s and 25 hours today, above which work, which can be beneficial to a young person, becomes a real burden with many negative consequences. Lengthening of schedules between 1990 and 2000 confirms the level in Canada (it rose by 13 to 13.6 hours) and this trend is highest in Quebec (13.7 hours in 1990 and 14.7 hours in 2000). This increase is partly explained by sectors of the economy such as the commercial, restaurant and accommodation industries which grew rapidly in the years from 1990 to 2000 and needed massive hiring during the fall and winter seasons (holidays, vacations, leisure, etc.). These three sectors represented 52.7% of the employment rate for Quebec students in 2011.


There are many reasons given by young people for working: paying for board and food, affording goods and leisure, financing their studies, etc. They get a variety of personal benefits (better self-esteem, financial independence), education benefits (sense of organization and responsibility) and professional benefits (gaining experience, developing knowledge, links with adults). However, it’s good to remember that working while studying has an effect on the schedule (working in the evening or during class time), organizing of work (high work load, repetitive tasks or tasks that require considerable concentration), physical condition (standing, heavy loads, noisy environment) and interpersonal relationships (bad or tense atmosphere, difficult relations with colleagues). It’s too easy to land a job while studying that interferes with academic success (reduced energy, concentration and, possibly, motivation, punctuality), has a negative impact on health (stress, insomnia, poor eating habits, etc.) and may be detrimental to the level of employment (reduced performance, risk of injury).

There’s a job for every student, but each student must especially be matched to the job according to their ability to manage the consequences on their personal and working life. network