Education indicators in Canada: An international perspective, 2010

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In 2010, 92% of Canadian adults aged 25 to 34 had completed at least a high school education, compared with 82% for those aged 55 to 64. These rates were higher than the average for the 34 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where 82% of adults aged 25 to 34 and 62% of those aged 55 to 64 had attained at least a secondary school education.

In Canada, 26% of adults aged 25 to 64 had completed a university education, higher than the 22% average for the OECD countries.

The employment rate in Canada for adults aged 25 to 64 who had completed college or university programs was 81% in 2010, compared with 72% for those who completed secondary school and 55% for those who had not completed high school. The overall OECD employment rates were quite similar.

In 2010, about 44% of Canada's young adults aged 15 to 29 were still pursuing some form of education. The most recent average for the OECD countries was slightly higher, at 47%.

In Canada, close to 14% of young adults aged 15 to 29 were considered to be in the so-called "NEET" group — the acronym for people who were not in employment, education or training. This proportion compares with an OECD average of approximately 16%. Young Canadians with college or university education were less likely to be in the NEET group (about 10%).

Canada devoted just over 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to educational institutions in 2008, about the same as the OECD overall. About 40% of that share of GDP in Canada was spent on postsecondary education, the highest such allocation among the OECD countries. The United States was close behind at 36%.

Spending per student for secondary education in Canada averaged $11,489 in 2008/2009, 7% higher than the average per student for primary education ($10,758). Total expenditure per student on university education averaged $31,103.

At the primary and secondary level in Canada, the compensation of teachers accounted for the largest share of current expenditure, a situation common to all other OECD countries. Starting salaries for teachers in every province and territory were similar for all levels taught. They were also higher than the corresponding OECD averages.

In Canada, the average starting salary for teachers in public institutions (converted in US dollars) was around $34,500, regardless of level taught; that is, primary, middle school, or high school. This compares with OECD averages of $28,523, $29,801 and $30,889, respectively.

School teachers in Canada teach a few more hours than their counterparts in the OECD at each level of schooling. In 2009/2010, primary school teachers taught an average of 799 hours per year compared with the OECD average of 782 hours. At the secondary level, teaching time in Canada was about 740 hours.

Roughly 100,000 international students were registered in postsecondary programs in Canada in 2009, nearly twice the number in 2001. Students from Asia accounted for 59% of all international students in Canada. In the OECD, Asian students accounted for 51% of international students.

Note to readers

This edition of Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, is the fourth in a series of reports that places aspects of the educational systems in Canada's provinces and territories into an international context. The indicators were developed to align with definitions and methodologies used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The report was prepared by the Canadian Education Statistics Council, a joint venture of Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. It presents 11 indicators that capture information on educational attainment, graduation rates at the secondary level, labour market outcomes, expenditures per student, expenditures on education, international students, transitions to the labour market, and the learning environment and organization of schools which now includes a new indicator on teachers' teaching time.

The publication Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, 2012 (Catalogue number81-604-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; or the Media Hotline (613-951-4636;