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Education Indicators in Canada

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Released: 2018-09-27

While women account for more than half of full-time students in Canada's universities and colleges, it is a different story in registered apprenticeship training, which continues to be dominated by men.

Canada is heading towards an economy where technological advancements are gradually changing the nature and number of low-skilled jobs. To meet these changing demands, today's students must develop the right skills through postsecondary education and apprenticeship training. The Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP) provides information on how young Canadians are acquiring the skills needed in this new economy.

Data from this PCEIP release provide insight into postsecondary enrolments and completions, educational attainment and labour market outcomes in Canada. In particular, they shed light on gender differences in these sectors. While men accounted for most of the 417,000 students enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs in 2016, women represented just over 10% of students.

Overall, the proportion of women registered in apprenticeship programs increased from 9% in 2000 to 12% in 2016. Among apprenticeship programs, such as early childhood educators and assistants, hairstylists and estheticians, and community and social service workers, women represented more than 80% of registrations. Training for the early childhood educators and assistants trade group, which is only offered in Ontario, accounted for nearly 10% of all female registrations in Canada.

From 2006 to 2016, the proportion of women registered in male-dominated trades rose, with major trade groups such as interior finishers (+6 percentage points), welders (+6 percentage points) and landscape and horticulture technicians and specialists (+5 percentage points) posting increases.

In contrast to the apprenticeship sector, women accounted for the majority of full-time students enrolled in colleges (54%) and universities (56%). Women continued to outnumber men in university enrolments in every province, ranging from 55% in British Columbia and Ontario to 63% in Prince Edward Island. In most jurisdictions (the exceptions being Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick), women also accounted for most college enrolments.

This edition of the PCEIP also reveals interesting trends in educational attainment in Canada. For example, in 2017, women aged 25 to 34 were more likely to obtain a bachelor's degree or above (42%) than young men in the same age group (30%).

However, these gender differences were less pronounced among members of older generations who had obtained a university degree as their highest level of education, as education levels among women have risen at a faster pace than that of men. Men aged 25 to 34 (14%) were more likely to obtain a trade or vocational qualification as their highest level of education than women of the same age group (6%). This gender gap was even more pronounced among older generations.

Off-reserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis women aged 25 to 64 (28%) were more likely to obtain a college certificate than their male counterparts (18%) in 2016. These gender differences varied among jurisdictions, ranging from women leading with a 2 percentage point difference in Prince Edward Island to a 13 percentage point difference in Alberta and The Northwest Territories.

This held true for these groups at the university level, where 8% of men obtained a bachelor's degree or above in 2016, compared with 14% of women. These gender differences varied among the jurisdictions, ranging from women leading with a 3 percentage point difference in Nunavut to an 8 percentage point difference in Nova Scotia.

In Canada, a higher level of education is associated with a better chance of participating in the labour market. The payoff of education was particularly high in Saskatchewan, where 25% of people with no high school diploma were unemployed, compared with 4% of those with a university degree. Notably, education levels required by the labour market differed across the provinces. For example in Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, the unemployment rates of 25- to 29-year-olds were lower for those with a college or trade certificate than for those with a university degree.

This edition of the PCEIP also includes information on the school-aged population living in low income, university tuition fees, research and development expenditures and transitions into the labour market.

  Note to readers

The Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program is an ongoing initiative of the Canadian Education Statistics Council, a partnership between Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education (Canada) that provides a set of statistical measures on education systems in Canada.

Data on off-reserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis are taken from the following tables: 37-10-0099 and 37-10-0100.

Two new table views on the percentage of females in postsecondary education are also available from the following tables: 37-10-0018-02 and 37-10-0020-02.


The publication Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program, September 2018 (Catalogue number81-582-X), is now available.

The product Education Indicators in Canada: Handbook for the Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (Catalogue number81-582-G) is also available. This handbook provides general descriptions for each indicator, and the major concepts and definitions used, as well as an overview of the methodology, limitations and data sources.

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