National Graduates Survey (NGS)

Detailed information for 1991 (class of 1986: follow-up)





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The National Graduate Survey (NGS) is designed to measure the short to medium-term labour market outcomes of graduates from Canadian public university, community college and trade-vocational programs.

Data release - May 1996


This survey was designed to determine such factors as: the extent to which graduates of postsecondary programs had been successful in obtaining employment since graduation; the relationship between the graduates' programs of study and the employment subsequently obtained; the graduates' job and career satisfaction; the rates of under-employment and unemployment; the type of employment obtained related to career expectations and qualification requirements; and the influence of postsecondary education on occupational achievement. The information is directed towards policy makers, researchers, educators, employers and young adults-interested in postsecondary education and the transition from school to work of trade/vocational, college and university graduates.

This survey has been conducted periodically upon a graduating class from a specific calendar year. Each graduating class is interviewed twice: two years after graduation (National Graduates Survey) and five years after graduation (Follow-up Survey of Graduates).


  • Education, training and learning
  • Employment and unemployment
  • Fields of study
  • Labour
  • Outcomes of education

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Graduates from Canadian public postsecondary education institutions (universities, colleges, trade schools) who graduated or completed the requirements for degrees, diplomas or certificates during the reference calendar year. Excluded are: graduates from private postsecondary education institutions; completers of continuing-education programs (unless these led to a degree, diploma or certificate); part-time trade course completers; persons who completed vocational programs lasting less than three months; persons who completed vocational programs other than in the skilled trades (e.g. basic training and skill development); completers of provincial apprenticeship programs and those living outside of Canada at the time of the survey.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design and a longitudinal follow-up.

The survey includes all respondents from the National Graduates Survey (Class of 1986) living in Canada at the time of the survey. It is based on a stratified systematic sample design. The population of graduates was stratified by province, level and field of study. The five levels are: skilled trades, college, undergraduate (degrees, diplomas and certificates), master's (including postgraduate diplomas and certificates) and doctorate. For university and college graduates there were nine groups of fields of study and for trade and vocational program completers, ten.

Once that step was completed, an additional sample of 3,333 university and college graduates was selected for Alberta, at the request of the Alberta government. The added sample was split among field-of-study groups within the two levels.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: March and April 1991

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Telephone interviews were conducted with respondents living in Canada.

Error detection

Because the survey is a sample it is subject to some degree of sampling error. In addition, there is some non-sampling error which is caused by interviewers misunderstanding instructions, respondents incorrectly answering a question, errors in data capture, etc.; Randomly occuring errors will have little effect on estimates derived from the survey. However, errors occuring systematically will contribute to biases in the estimates. Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data.


Total non-response was handled by adjusting the weight of households who responded to the survey to compensate for those who did not respond.

The basis for measuring the potential size of sampling errors is the standard error of the estimates derived from survey results.

However, because of the large variety of estimates that can be produced from a survey, the standard error of an estimate is usually expressed relative to the estimate to which it pertains. This resulting measure, known as the coefficient of variation (C.V.) of an estimate, is obtained by dividing the standard error of the estimate by the estimate itself and is expressed as a percentage of the estimate.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Data accuracy

The sample allocation to the strata was made to allow analysis at acceptable levels of detail with acceptable reliability for all provinces, levels and groups of fields of study, as defined for the graduate surveys for the Class of 1982.

An independent systematic random sample of allocated size was selected from each stratum.

An additional sample of university and college graduates was selected from Alberta.

The response rate was 88%.

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