Methodology: Future Workforce Survey and Management Guide


So you've read the Future Workforce Survey and Management Guide, but you're wondering how we arrived at the results? Here, you'll find the details of how we collected the survey responses and how we asked the survey questions.

Data Collection and Respondents 

Data were collected from students and employers.  First, email invitations to an online survey were sent to undergraduate co-operative education (co-op) students at the University of Waterloo. Over 200 students provided complete responses to the survey. Second, email invitations were sent to employers associated with the University of Waterloo co-op program. All invited employers had hired at least one student in the previous year.  Similarly, subscribers to HRD (Human Resources Director) Magazine also received email invitations. Over 400 responses were collected from these two groups, which we describe as an “employer” group. 

Over half of the student respondents were female. The distribution of participants per faculty was closely representative of the student population at the University. Eighty-five percent of student respondents had completed at least one work term, and the majority had completed two or more work terms.

Employers represented an eclectic range of industries. The majority of employer respondents were female. The most common organization size was “large” (over 500 employees; 34%). Seventy-seven percent of employers conducted at least some form of campus recruitment. Seventy-nine percent of employers were also workplace supervisors (i.e., they had at least one direct report), and the majority (83%) had been in a management position for at least one year. 


Students and employers completed similar versions of a survey. The content of the survey focused on multiple topics. The central topic was that of values. Values are beliefs that organize what is important to individuals, and thus orders goals, sets standards, and guides action (Schwartz, 2010).  We examined whether students’ values were aligned with organizational values.  

Students were asked to review ten value statements in the form of vignettes (descriptions of a fictitious person). Each vignette represented a value that may be important to a given individual. The list of values was borrowed from Schwartz’s theory of basic values (Schwartz, 1992; Schwartz, Melech, Lehmann, Burgess, & Harris, 2001). An example of a value is self-direction: a desire for independent thought and action. Students read about someone who valued self-direction, and then were asked to report how similar to the fictitious individual they were. This was a proxy for how important a given value was to that student.

Employers completed a similar task. They reported on whether the fictitious individual in each of the 10 vignettes would “fit in” with the organization’s values. This was a measure of each organization’s values. Employers also reported on whether the fictitious person was similar to young job seekers’ values. This was a measure of employers’ perceptions of young job seekers’ values. 

Thus, we measured three main ideas: (1) what was important to students, (2) what was important to organizations, and (3) what organizations perceived was important to students. We used these three measures to examine discrepancies. We highlight these discrepancies in our report.