Chapter A
The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning

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A1. Educational attainment of the adult population
A2. Upper secondary graduation
A3. Labour market outcomes

A1 Educational attainment of the adult population

Context

This indicator provides a profile of the educational attainment of the adult population aged 25 to 64; that is, the percentage of that population that has successfully completed a certain level of education. For this international indicator, educational attainment reflects the highest level of education completed, based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) categories.Note 1 As all subsequent indicators are examined by educational attainment within this international structure, this opening indicator, A1, sets the stage with an overview of the situation in Canada, including a brief breakdown of attainment by sex to reveal any gender differences. Information on generational differences reflects the shifts in educational attainment over time. Overall trends are also presented. This portrait of educational attainment places Canada and its provinces and territories in an international context.

Education helps give individuals the tools they need to participate in social and economic life and is key to the social and economic well-being of a country. As a large number of people in the 25-to-64 age range will have completed their formal education, this indicator provides some information on the skills and knowledge of this segment of the population, the core one active in the labour market. Overall, the educational attainment of all individuals in the working-age population influences the competitiveness of economies and the prosperity of societies. Variations in attainment over time reflect differences in access to education, and indicate the evolution of knowledge available in the working-age population.

The distribution of educational attainment across Canada should not be considered an exact reflection of any educational system’s output because many other factors come into play; for example, differences in labour market and economic situations, in the relative magnitude of international and inter-jurisdictional migrations, and the overall mobility of students and workers.

Observations

Educational attainment in Canada

In 2011, over half of Canadians aged 25 to 64 had successfully completed a college or university education. Recent figures for the highest level of education attained indicate that one-quarter (25%) of adults in this age group were in the ISCED 5B (college) category, while a fairly similar proportion, 27%, had completed their education at the ISCED 5A/6 (university) level (Table A.1.1). An estimated 12% were in the remaining postsecondary category (ISCED 4), with “postsecondary non-tertiary education”, which includes certificates or diplomas from vocational schools or apprenticeship training. And just over one-quarter (26%) of individuals in Canada had an “upper secondary education” (ISCED 3A), meaning that they had successfully completed high school and this was their highest level of attainment. As expected, the proportions of individuals with less than high school completion were low: 8% for “lower secondary” (ISCED 2) and 3% for “pre-primary and primary” (ISCED 0/1).Note 2 This overall portrait of educational attainment among Canada’s 25- to 64-year-old population in 2011 is based on data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS).Note 3

Gender differences

For the attainment levels up to and including “upper secondary”, which is high school completion, the figures for 25- to 64-year-old men and women in Canada were fairly similar in 2011 (Table A.1.1). But larger gender differences emerge at the postsecondary levels of attainment, particularly among individuals in the ISCED 4 category. This group reflects the traditionally male-dominated areas of trades and apprenticeships, thus it is not surprising that the proportion of men (15%) is close to double that of women (8%) (Chart A.1.1). The male–female differences shift in the opposite direction for college and university attainment. The proportion of women whose highest level of attainment was 5B (college) was 28% in 2011, beyond the 21% recorded for men. At the 5A/6 (university) level, the figure for women was also 28%, compared with 26% for their male counterparts.

In 2011, the proportions of women at the college level were above those for men in each of the age categories between 25 and 64 (Table A.1.3). At the university level, however, a different pattern is evident in such age-specific comparisons by sex. About one-quarter (24%) of men in the oldest age group, 55 to 64, had attained a university credential, compared with 1 in 5 women (20%). Moving downward by age group indicates when women began catching up to men (45 to 54), and then began surpassing them (35 to 44) in attainment at the university level. And finally, among the younger adults aged 25 to 34, the proportion of women was noticeably larger than that for men: 36% versus 26% in 2011. It is not possible, however, to distinguish the female–male differences for undergraduate and graduate degrees,Note 4 as the ISCED 5A/6 category, which reflects Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, captures a combination of all university degrees from bachelor’s to PhD.Note 5

Generational differences and high school completion

As expected, the large majority (89%) of Canadians aged 25 to 64 had attained at least upper secondary education in 2011 (Table A.1.2). A comparison of the younger (25 to 34) and older (55 to 64) adults in this population shows substantial progress in the proportion of individuals who are successfully completing high school. Attainment at this level is usually considered the minimal educational requirement when it comes to seeking employment and being competitive in the labour market (for more on this topic, see Indicator A3, “Labour market outcomes” in this chapter).

The proportion of individuals who had successfully completed at least a high school education was 92% for the adults aged 25 to 34. By comparison, the figure for the older individuals (55 to 64) was 83%, still a relatively high level of attainment. The 9-percentage-point difference does, however, indicate a gap between generations in Canada (Chart A.1.2). While there were no differences between the proportions of men and women aged 55 to 64 in Canada with this level of attainment (Table A.1.2), a gender difference is evident in the OECD countries overall: 68% of men in the older age group had attained at least upper secondary education, compared with 60% of the women.Note 6 But both nationally and internationally, among the younger generation of adults, the figures for women were above those for men. In Canada, 94% of women aged 25 to 34 had at least an upper secondary education compared with 91% of their male counterparts; at the OECD level, the figures were 84% for women and 81% for men.

Internationally, an overall comparison of educational attainment for the youngest (ages 25 to 34) and oldest (55 to 64) groups also reveals a higher proportion of secondary graduates among the younger generation, yet the gap is far larger than that for Canada: 18 percentage points for the OECD average (Table A.1.2; Chart A.1.2). Data from the OECD also reveal that several countries (South Korea, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Chile, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Turkey, Australia, Netherlands, Slovenia and Mexico), posted intergenerational differences of 20 percentage points or more in 2011, while the gap was more modest (below 10 percentage points) in countries such as Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, and Norway. The United States and Estonia were the only countries where the older generation had a higher proportion of high school graduates than the younger generation. The fairly modest 9-percentage-point difference in Canada indicates that relatively higher stages of attainment had already been successfully achieved by the older generations. In fact, with 89% of its 25- to 64-year-olds having attained at least high school graduation in 2011, Canada was third among OECD countries, just slightly behind Czech Republic (92%), the Slovak Republic (91%), and tied with the United States, Poland, and Estonia.

There were relatively small differences between provinces in the proportion of adults aged 25 to 34 with at least a high school diploma; the 2011 figures for all provinces were in the 90%-to-94% range (Table A.1.2). But the gap between this younger group and its older counterpart (the 55-to-64 age group) reveals greater provincial differences, with the most notable difference (23 percentage points) registered for  Newfoundland and Labrador (Chart A.1.2). The large majority of provinces recorded differences of between 10 and 20 percentage points, while the gaps in Alberta and British Columbia were 5 percentage points. In Yukon and Northwest Territories, the differences between the 25-to-34 and 55-to-64 age groups were 5 and 6 percentage points, respectively; in Nunavut, the proportions were about the same.Note 7

Postsecondary attainment and age group

As mentioned previously, there are three categories of postsecondary attainment under “tertiary education” in the ISCED classification system (see “ISCED classifications and descriptions” in Notes to readers): ISCED 5B (also known as tertiary-type B), ISCED 5A (tertiary-type A), and ISCED 6 (advanced research programmes). In Canada, tertiary-type B includes non-university certificates or diplomas from community colleges, CEGEPs or schools of nursing, as well as university certificates below the bachelor’s level; tertiary-type A refers to bachelor and master’s degrees and other university degrees or certificates above a bachelor’s degree (but below a doctorate); and advanced research programmes include doctorates and post-doctoral programs. Due to LFS limitations, ISCED 5A and 6 cannot be disentangled in Canada and the proportion recorded for tertiary-type B programs may be somewhat overestimated (see the “Definitions, sources and methodology” for this indicator).

According to 2011 data, about half of adults aged 25 to 64 (51%) in Canada had completed some type of tertiary education (Table A.1.3). This proportion varies by age group, with the younger adults (25 to 34) having a 14-percentage-point advantage over their older counterparts (55 to 64) (Chart A.1.3). The differences between the proportions for the 25-to-34 and 55-to-64 groups were fairly large in most jurisdictions, except for British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, which all recorded differences of less than 10 percentage points. A different pattern is apparent in Nunavut, where the proportion of individuals with tertiary attainment was 9 percentage points higher for the older, not the younger, generation.

One-quarter (25%) of individuals aged 25 to 64 in Canada had completed tertiary-type B programs in 2011, far greater than the 10% average reported by the OECD (Table A.1.3; Chart A.1.4). Even if somewhat overestimated, the proportion of 25- to 64-year-olds observed for Canada does reveal the country’s strength in delivering such programs, one not seen in most other OECD countries. By contrast, the corresponding international figure for tertiary-type A/advanced research programmes was a much higher 23%, which compares with 27% in Canada. Approximately one-third of the reporting OECD countries showed similar strength in attainment at the university level when compared with Canada, including Australia (28%), the United Kingdom (30%), and the United States (32%). However, the relatively lower attainment at the college level that is reflected in the OECD average is also clearly seen in each of these countries, where the proportions for ISCED 5B attainment were all around 10%.

Attainment at the tertiary-type B level (college) ranged from 17% in Saskatchewan to 28% in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, and 30% in Yukon (Chart A.1.4). For tertiary-type A/advanced research programmes (university), the proportions ranged from 13% in Nunavut to 30% in Ontario. Although both sectors are strong in Canada, the proportions of individuals with university credentials are somewhat higher in some provinces/territories, while the higher figures in others are seen for attainment at the college level. In 2011, Manitoba was the only province with the same proportion (23%) for both.

Educational attainment continues to increase

Between 2001 and 2011, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with less than high school completion (ISCED 0/1 and ISCED 2) decreased from 18% to 11% in Canada (Chart A.1.5.1), generally with a slight drop from year to year (Table A.1.4). These steady declines for “below upper secondary” attainment are mirrored in the provinces.

There was an overall rise in the proportions of individuals aged 25 to 64 who had completed their education at one of the tertiary levels (ISCED 5B or 5A/6) (Table A.1.4). For Canada, the proportion of individuals in this group rose 9 percentage points between 2001 and 2011: 42% to 51% (Chart A.1.5.2).

Levels of educational attainment among individuals aged 25 to 64 have evolved over time, both nationally and internationally, and primarily at the bottom and top of the attainment spectrum. Between 2000 and 2011, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 who had “below upper secondary” attainment, or less than high school graduation, fell 8 percentage points in Canada, and 9 percentage points among OECD countries overall (Table A.1.4). At the same time, the proportions of individuals who had obtained some type of tertiary degree rose by 11 percentage points in Canada, and by 10 percentage points at the international level. The proportions with upper secondary or postsecondary non-tertiary education changed little in both cases.

The 2000-to-2011 average annual growth rates related to below upper secondary education show declines of 4.8% in Canada and 2.7% for the OECD overall. At the same time, the positive figures for successful completion of tertiary education (2.3% for Canada; 3.3% for the OECD) indicate the growth in this level of attainment over the same period.

These trends are echoed in the figures for Canada’s jurisdictions, as more and more individuals have pursued higher levels of education.

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator examines educational attainment among Canada’s adult population aged 25 to 64, by age group and sex. It presents a portrait of the situation in 2011, but also shows the evolution since 2000.

The percentage of the population represented by a given age group that has attained a particular education level is obtained by taking the number of persons in this age group who have received a diploma attesting to that level, dividing it by the total number of persons in this same age group, and then multiplying by 100.

The education level corresponds to the highest level of education an individual has attained. The designation of the different levels of schooling is based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97) (see the “ISCED classifications and descriptions” and the “Mapping to ISCED” section for the Labour Force Survey [LFS] in Notes to readers). An individual must have successfully completed a programme at a given ISCED level to be considered as having attained that level of education. An individual who has not successfully completed a programme is assigned the preceding education level. For example, a secondary school graduate, as well as an individual who has undertaken some postsecondary education but who has not obtained a credential at that level, is considered to have attained ISCED level 3; a student who has not successfully completed secondary school, ISCED level 2.

The 2011 information presented for Canada on population and educational attainment is based on data from the LFS, which surveys approximately 56,000 households every month.Note 8 The LFS seeks to obtain a detailed and timely picture of the population aged 15 or older throughout the country. It allows proxy reporting, meaning that information on the entire household can be collected from a single member of the household. In all, this type of reporting accounts for approximately 65% of all information collected. Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are those reported by the OECD, and are drawn from OECD and Eurostat databases, as compiled from national labour force surveys or population registers.

Some limitations are encountered when using LFS data to examine and categorize educational attainment using ISCED as it is not possible to make a precise delineation between “postsecondary non-tertiary education” and “tertiary-type B education programmes”. LFS data reported for the Canadian population that has attained ISCED level 5B will be somewhat overestimated because this category includes, for example, some CEGEP or college university transfer program graduates who, under the international classification standards, would have been placed in ISCED level 4.

In Statistics Canada’s LFS, advanced research qualifications (doctorates), educational attainment at ISCED 6, cannot be identified separately; therefore, educational attainment in the ISCED 5A and 6 categories must be counted together.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A1, To what level have adults studied?.

A2 Upper secondary graduation

Context

This indicator presents upper secondary school graduation rates. Graduation rates are often seen as a measure of student achievement. A comparison of overall rates gives some information about the extent to which school systems are succeeding in providing students with what is universally recognized as an important educational milestone. Presenting rates by sex reveals whether any gender differences exist; this in turn can signal whether those systems are meeting the needs of both male and female students. The share of graduatesNote 9 for the population under 25 years of age is also presented, which is useful in a broad assessment of the education systems in various OECD countries for this age category.

Upper secondary graduation is the foundation for further education. It has become an essential milestone for most students and provides economic and social benefits for society. Historically, males had been much more likely to graduate from secondary school; however, that pattern has been reversed for many years in Canada and almost all other OECD member countries. Whether male or female, the value of graduating from high school also extends beyond the academic qualification by giving individuals what is now widely considered the minimum requirement for entry into the labour market.

Another dimension presented by this indicator is the successful completion of upper secondary programmes based on a synthetic cohort for public schools. To a certain extent, this indicator reveals the effectiveness of Canada’s various public education systems in producing graduates within the three-year period typically considered by the OECD as the normal duration of an upper secondary education program (on-time graduation). In Canada, this period would be equivalent to Grades 10 to 12, or, in Quebec, Grades 9 to 11. The OECD did not publish information on completion rates in 2013; therefore, figures for the OECD are not available.

Observations

Upper secondary graduation rates

Canada’s upper secondary graduation rate was 83% in 2010, according to the most recent data available for the country’s provinces and territories (Table A.2.1; Chart A.2.1). This rate reports on high school graduates, during a given year, from public, private, and First Nations band-operated schools as a proportion of the population of the corresponding age—a “population-based graduation rate”. It provides an estimation of the probability that an individual will graduate from high school during his or her lifetime. The majority of other OECD member countries also reported graduation rates of at least 80%, and the latest OECD average (2011) was also 83%. In the United States, the upper secondary graduation rate was 77%, while the rate recorded for the United Kingdom (93%) was notably higher compared with both North American countries.Note 10

Upper secondary graduation rates for 2010 varied across the Canadian provinces, with figures ranging from 70% for Alberta up to 91% for Quebec. All western provinces, along with Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, presented graduation rates below Canada’s national average of 83%. This was also the case in the territories, with graduation rates of 37% in Nunavut, 54% in the Northwest Territories, and 72% in Yukon.

Share of graduates under 25 years of age

Graduates who were under 25 years of age represented the vast majority (95%) of all upper secondary graduates in Canada in 2010 (Table A.2.1). The share of under-25 graduates ranged from 87% in Quebec to 100% in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Yukon. In Ontario, the figure was 97%, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta, 96% and 99%, respectively. Among the OECD countries, the average was 93%, ranging from 70% in Portugal to 100% in Israel, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Graduation rates higher for females

In Canada, the upper secondary graduation rate for females was 87% in 2010 and the rate for males was 80%, revealing a female–male gap of 7 percentage points (Table A.2.1; Chart A.2.1). According to the latest figures provided by the OECD, the comparable average international rates were 86% and 79%, respectively. The upper secondary graduation rates for females were higher than those for males in most OECD member countries for which comparable data were available. In Germany, the graduation rate for males (93%) was slightly higher than that for females (92%), whereas in Ireland, Japan and South Korea, the female graduation rate was higher but only by about 1 or 2 percentage points.

Within Canada, the female upper secondary graduation rates exceeded those for males in most of the provinces and territories; the exception was Nunavut, where the graduation rates for men were 4 percentage points higher (Table A.2.1, Chart A.2.1). Other than Manitoba (75%) and Alberta (73%), in all other provinces female graduation rates were 81% or above (Chart A.2.1) Graduation rates for women were below 50% in Nunavut, and were 81% and 62%, respectively, in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. One of the largest gender gaps was observed in Quebec, along with graduation rates that were among the highest in Canada for both women (97%) and men (85%).

Rates by programme

For 2010, the total upper secondary graduation rates for most  provinces and territories—Quebec was the exception—reflect graduations from general programmes in upper secondary schools (high schools) (Table A.2.1). Quebec was the only province to report a notable proportion of graduates from pre-vocational and vocational programmes, recording a rate of 14% for both sexes in 2010. The Canada-level graduation rate for these programmes (3%) was thus almost entirely determined by Quebec’s unique and rather extensive vocational sector. While the female graduation rates for general programmes exceeded those for males across most of the country in 2010, Quebec’s rates in the pre-vocational/vocational sector were higher for males: 16% versus 11% for females. Higher graduation rates obtained for males compared with females in the pre-vocational/vocational sector may, however, only be a reflection of gender inequalities in enrolment within particular programmes. Graduates from the pre-vocational and vocational programmes in Quebec were also older: only 37% of these graduates were less than 25 years of age. This type of situation is also seen in Australia (47%), and to a lesser extent in the Nordic countries of Finland (54%), Denmark (57%), Iceland (60%), and Norway (62%).

Successful completion of upper secondary programmes in public schools

The previous discussion has focused on secondary school graduates as a proportion of the population of a particular age. Another way of looking at secondary school graduation is to consider how many of the students who enter Grade 10 (Grade 9 in Quebec) in a given year graduate, or complete their studies, on time. This successful (on-time) completion of upper secondary programmes is examined here based on a proxy cohort for public schools—a “cohort-based completion rate”. The majority of pupils who start upper secondary education complete the programmes they enter in the three-year period typically covered by upper secondary education (i.e., on-time graduation).Note 11 In Canada in 2010, the successful completion in public schools was 74% (Table A.2.2; Chart A.2.2). The proportion of students who completed their education in the expected time varied considerably among the provinces and territories: from 16% in Nunavut to over 80% in Nova Scotia (82%) and New Brunswick (82%). Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia also recorded rates higher than the national average, while the reverse could be observed for Quebec,Note 12 Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the three territories.

Using the same measure, the successful on-time completion of upper secondary programmes was higher for females than for their male counterparts in all Canadian provinces and territories other than Nunavut (Table A.2.2; Chart A.2.2). Differences of 7 percentage points or more (the difference observed at the Canada level) between the successful completion of females compared with males were recorded in Prince Edward Island (7 percentage points) and Quebec (14 percentage points). The Northwest Territories recorded a female–male gap of 8 percentage points based on a rather low on-time completion rate of 34% among women. Differences of about 5 percentage points or less were observed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and lastly in Nunavut, where the gap was in the opposite direction and male completion rates were higher.

The vast majority of provinces and territories show population-based graduation rates (Table A.2.1) higher than cohort-based completion rates (Table A.2.2). The coverage and calculation of each indicator is quite different, so it is not appropriate to make direct comparisons. Many factors may explain the differences between the two rates: contribution of private or vocational graduates to the graduation rate (as in Quebec); contribution of older graduates to the graduation rate (as in the territories and Quebec); and high Grade 10 enrolments in private and First Nations systems relative to the population of the corresponding age group (as in Quebec and Manitoba). In considering enrolment, it is important to remember that students in private schools and First Nations education systems are not included in this indicator. Information on enrolments by grade and by age and real cohort information—as is available in many OECD countries—would be necessary to fully explain differences in the two methodologies.

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator presents net upper secondary graduation rates without duplication (i.e., first-time graduates) according to programme orientation and sex. It also presents successful completion of upper secondary programmes of a proxy cohort in public schools.

Upper secondary graduation rates

These rates are an estimation of the probability that an individual will graduate from high school during his or her lifetime, assuming that current conditions related to graduation all remain the same.Note 13

Upper secondary graduation rates are the sum of graduation rates by age, and the latter are obtained by dividing graduates of a specific age by the population of the corresponding specific age.Note 14Rates without duplication only count individuals who had obtained, during a given year, a diploma at this level for the first time.Note 15 In general, a graduate of upper secondary education is considered to have successfully completed the last year of education at this level, regardless of his or her age.

All data for Canada reflect the 2009/2010 school year; the OECD averages reflect 2010/2011. Information for Canada was drawn from the Elementary-Secondary Education Survey (ESES), an administrative survey that collects data for public and private educational institutions from the provincial and territorial ministries/departments of education.Note 16 To ensure comparability with other OECD countries, Statistics Canada added, for all provinces and territories (except Ontario and Nova Scotia, for which data were estimated), the number of 2009/2010 graduates from private schools provided by provinces and territories at ESES collection. The number of graduates from First Nations band-operated schools (these data were obtained from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada), were also added to the number of public and private school graduates and included in the calculation of the upper secondary graduation rates presented.

Population estimates used in the denominator of the graduation rate calculation cover the entire population, including Aboriginal people, as of January 1, 2010.

Successful completion of upper secondary programmes in public schools

An adjusted proxy cohort for examination of the successful completion of upper secondary programmes has been developed for public schools (as per the scope of the ESES data collection) for Canada and the jurisdictions. It was calculated by dividing the number of 16- to 19-year-old graduates (15- to 18-year-olds in Quebec) in 2009/2010 by the number of Grade 10 (3e secondaire in Quebec) enrolments recorded three years earlier (i.e., in 2007/2008). This ratio has been adjusted to take into account deaths and interprovincial and international migration factors.

The adjustment factor is generated by dividing the 14- to 15-year-old population in 2007 (which represents the Grade 10 students) by the 17- to 18-year-old population in 2010 (which represents the Grade 10 students who graduated three years later). For Canada, where there is more in-migration than out-migration, the adjustment factor is below 100%. If this adjustment is not made, the inclusion of recent in-migrants who were not part of the original Grade 10 cohort would result in an overestimation of the number of graduates that were part of the original universe (the 2007 Grade 10 enrolments). This adjustment implicitly assumes that graduation rates of recent immigrants are identical to graduation rates of those in the original cohort.

Other possible flows in and out of the public school system between enrolment in Grade 10 and graduation at the end of Grade 12 may exist; for example, movement between public and private schools. Such possibilities could not be taken into consideration, however, as the appropriate data that would be needed to estimate such flows are not available at this time.

International data collection

The international figures used by the OECD are obtained from the UOE collection of statistical data on education, carried out jointly by three international organizations (UNESCO, the OECD, and Eurostat), and conducted in 2012 by the OECD.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A2, How many students are expected to complete upper secondary education?.

A3 Labour market outcomes

Context

This indicator examines the connection between educational attainment and the labour market by looking at employment rates among the adult population aged 25 to 64. This relationship is explored by sex and by age group (25 to 34 and 55 to 64). Trends in employment rates by educational attainment are also presented. Educational attainment reflects the highest level of education successfully completed, based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) categories.Note 17

One of the main objectives of education systems is to prepare individuals so they can participate in a knowledge-oriented economy and society. Job prospects and employment rates are generally better for those individuals with higher education.

Observations

Overall employment rates

In Canada, the overall employment rate for adults aged 25 to 64 was 76% in 2011 (Table A.3.1), similar to the rates in Austria and Japan (also 76%), as well as Finland and the United Kingdom (both 75%), but higher than the figure for the United States (71%).Note 18 The employment rate for the OECD, the most recent average based on the reporting countries, was 73%. Of course, these employment rates reflect a complex combination of economic, institutional and social factors that vary from country to country, or from one province/territory to another.

Across Canada’s provinces, the overall employment rate for 25- to 64-year-olds ranged from 66% in Newfoundland and Labrador to 81% in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Several OECD countries had employment rates similar to the low end of this range: Greece, 63%, Hungary (64%), Italy (64%), Spain (64%), Ireland (66%), Mexico (67%) and Poland (68%). By contrast, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland all had a higher employment rate (83%).

Upper secondary graduation minimum requirement

From an educational perspective, it is interesting to examine the impact of educational attainment on employability. In OECD countries, upper secondary (high school) graduation is considered the minimum requirement for finding a good job and being competitive in the labour market. Moreover, employability, judged on the basis of the employment rate (the ratio of the number of persons with a job in a given group to the total population of that group), increases with the amount of education attained. This relationship is evident in Canada, where in 2011, the employment rates for individuals aged 25 to 64 who had either “pre-primary and primary” or “lower secondary” as their highest level of attainment (that is, they had not completed high school) were 43% and 60%, respectively (Table A.3.1). Employment rates then rose from one level to another across the spectrum of educational attainment, from 72% for those with “upper secondary” attainment (high school graduation) to at least 79% for individuals who had completed their education in one of the postsecondary categories.

Across the country, the employment advantage associated with increasing levels of education is seen in the 2011 figures. The overall employment rates among those with successful high school completion ranged from 62% in Newfoundland and Labrador to around 70% in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia (Table A.3.1). In Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the employment rates were close to 80% in 2011, in some cases, approaching or exceeding the rates for individuals in other provinces who had acquired some type of postsecondary education.

In and throughout Canada, as well as in the OECD countries overall, the 2011 employment rates among the 25- to 64-year-old population were clearly highest—beyond 80%—among individuals who had a “tertiary education”; that is, a college or university credential.Note 19

Employment rates by sex

The differences in employment rates seen across ISCED categories occur among both men and women in Canada, although the rates for women are consistently lower than those recorded for men. In 2011, Canada’s overall employment rate for women aged 25 to 64 was 72%, compared with 80% for men in the same age range (Table A.3.1). While Canada’s rate for women was 7 percentage points higher than the comparable OECD average of 65%, the national and international rates for men were the same: 80% for Canada, 80% for the OECD average. Although the employment rates for men in Canada were lower than the corresponding OECD averages for each attainment category, there were fewer such differences between the Canada and OECD average employment rates for women.

In the majority of OECD countries, including Canada, in 2011, the gender gap in employment rates was largest among those with the least education (Table A.3.1). The difference in employment rates between the sexes was less pronounced among graduates of tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes when compared with the upper secondary graduates. In Canada, an 11-percentage-point difference between men and women is observed in the “upper secondary” (ISCED 3A) graduation category (Chart A.3.1). But that male–female difference narrows among graduates of tertiary programs, both type B (college) and type A/advanced research programmes (university): approximately 7 and 5 percentage points, respectively.

Differences in employability

At the Canada level, the difference between the employment rate for tertiary graduates aged 25 to 64 (82%) and the rate for those with “below upper secondary education” (55%) was a substantial 27 percentage points in 2011 (Table A.3.2; Chart A.3.2). A similar gap (28 percentage points) is seen at the international level, according to the most recent OECD averages for this group of adults aged 25 to 64. Among the provinces, the difference between employment rates for individuals in these two education categories varied in magnitude, ranging from 18 percentage points in Alberta to 38 in Newfoundland and Labrador. For the three territories, gaps ranged between 30 and 35 percentage points in 2011.

In 2011, from Newfoundland and Labrador westward through Manitoba, employment rates increased from one postsecondary level to another, with the highest gains evident for individuals who attained a university education (Table A.3.1). Figures for the three other provinces in Western Canada indicate different gains in employment rates. In Saskatchewan and Alberta, for example, the employment rates in all three postsecondary categories were similarly high, between 84% and 86%. The same pattern is seen in British Columbia, where the employment rates for the three postsecondary categories were 78% to 79%. The employment rates in all four western provinces indicate provincial economies that drive relatively high employment rates regardless of educational attainment (Chart A.3.2). In general, differences across the country largely relate to the structure and composition of individual provincial economies.

Age group and trends in labour market outcomes

Younger adults are generally more likely to be employed than older adults. The 2011 employment rates for Canada indicate that the proportion of adults aged 25 to 34 with “below upper secondary” education and who were employed was, on average, about 16 percentage points higher than the employment rate for their counterparts aged 55 to 64 (Table A.3.2). For individuals whose highest level of attainment was in either “upper secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary” or “tertiary” education, the gaps between younger and older individuals were about 19 percentage points.

In 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2011, employment rates were consistently higher among individuals with a tertiary education compared with those who had not attained that level of education,Note 20 both throughout Canada and the OECD countries overall (Table A.3.2). An analysis by level of educational attainment over time reveals relatively little variation in employment rates for the 25- to 64-year-old population overall.Note 21 It also indicates more stability in the rates for individuals aged 25 to 34 compared those aged 55 to 64.

Definitions, sources and methodology

This indicator, labour market outcomes, examines the relationship between educational attainment and the employment rates of 25- to 64-year-olds, overall and by sex, and provides insight into how this relationship has evolved over time.

The employment rate represents the percentage of employed people in this population. To calculate the employment rate for a group with a particular level of educational attainment, the number of employed persons with the particular level of educational attainment is divided by the total number of persons in the population aged 25 to 64 who have attained that education level and then multiplying this quotient by 100.

The concepts and definitions of “employment” and “unemployment” adopted by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are based on those endorsed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Employed persons are those who, during the reference week: (1) did any work at all at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self-employment. It also includes unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or (2) had a job but were not at work due to factors such as own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation, labour dispute or other reasons (excluding persons on layoff, between casual jobs, and those with a job to start at a future date).Note 22 The education level is measured according to the highest level of schooling completed.

The 2011 data for Canada and its provinces and territories were drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which surveys approximately 56,000 households every month.Note 23 The LFS excludes the following from the scope of the survey: individuals who live on reserves or in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, full-time members of the Canadian Forces and institutional residents. The LFS employment rate is based on a monthly average from January to December. Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are those reported by the OECD, and they are extracted from the OECD and Eurostat databases compiled from national labour force surveys for the OECD member countries.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is A5, How does educational attainment affect participation in the labour market?.


Notes

  1. See the “ISCED classifications and descriptions” section in this report’s Notes to readers for brief descriptions of the ISCED categories.
  2. Due to rounding, totals may not match the sum of the individual values.
  3. For more information on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) educational attainment categories and the international classification scheme, see “Mapping to ISCED” in this report’s Notes to readers section.
  4. For a brief outline of enrolments and graduation rates by sex in Canada, particularly at the doctoral level, see the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP) Fact sheet Number 6, Doctoral students and university teaching staff, Statistics Canada Catalogue number 81-599-X.
  5. For more information on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) educational attainment categories and the international classification scheme, see “Mapping to ISCED” in this report’s Notes to readers section.
  6. The international data presented in this report reflect figures published in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, available on the OECD Web site: www.oecd.org.
  7. In the territories, caution should be exercised when interpreting the differences between age groups at a given level of educational attainment. The proportions for the different age groups are based on estimates for relatively small populations and are thus associated with larger variability.
  8. The LFS sample size has varied over the years, but the survey typically covers approximately 56,000 households. For more information, see, Guide to the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Catalogue no. 71-543-G.
  9. Share of graduates under 25 years of age among the total population of graduates.
  10. The international data presented in this report reflect figures published in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, available on the OECD Web site: www.oecd.org.
  11. The “proxy cohort” methodology used in this report to produce the successful completion of upper secondary programmes for Canada and the provinces/territories differs from a “true cohort” methodology that may be used in a particular province/territory; consequently, the numbers in this report may differ slightly from those published by the provinces/territories.
  12. Given the importance of enrolment and graduation from private schools in Quebec, the results presented in this report may be underestimating the actual proportion of successful completion of upper secondary programmes in this province. In Quebec, 18% of all secondary school graduates obtain their credentials through a private school. Using enrolment and graduation estimates for this province, the successful completion of upper secondary programmes combining both public and private schools increased from 63% to 67%, slightly lower than the Canada-level average of 74%. 
  13. The methodology used to produce the numbers for Canada and the provinces/territories may differ from that used in a particular province/territory; consequently, the numbers in this report may differ from those published by the provinces/territories.
  14. This methodology differs from the one used in the 2009 and 2010 editions of this report, but is similar to that used in the 2011 and 2012 editions. In the earlier editions, this indicator was computed according to the “gross” method, which divides the number of all graduates, regardless of age, by the population at typical age of graduation (determined to be between age 17 and 18).
  15. In Canada, data on high school graduation is collected through the Elementary-Secondary Education Survey, which collects information on individuals who graduated at this level for the first time (unduplicated counts).
  16. Data on graduations from some secondary programs are not uniformly available across the provinces/territories, and general education development (GED) credentials, adult basic upgrading and education, and graduation from adult school, which take place outside regular secondary school programs, are, in most instances, not included.
  17. See the “ISCED classifications and descriptions” section in this report’s Notes to readers for brief descriptions of the ISCED categories.
  18. The international data presented in this report reflect figures published in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, available on the OECD Web site: www.oecd.org.
  19. For more information on the impact of individuals’ tertiary education credentials on employment rates compared with the rates for those with less than high school education, see the following Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP) Fact sheet: Number 8, Educational attainment and employment: Canada in an international context, Statistics Canada Catalogue number 81-599-X.
  20. For other information on the impact of individuals’ education credentials on employment rates, see the following Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP) Fact sheets: Number 8, Educational attainment and employment: Canada in an international context, Statistics Canada Catalogue number 81-599-X and Number 9, Economic downturn and educational attainment, Statistics Canada Catalogue number 81-599-X.
  21. See also Table A.3.2, Trends in employment rates of 25- to-64-year-olds, by highest level of education attained, Canada, provinces and territories, 1998 to 2010, in the 2012 edition of this report.
  22. For more information, see “Determining labour force status” in the Guide to the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 71-543-G.
  23. The LFS sample size has varied over the years, but the survey typically covers approximately 56,000 households. For more information, see, Guide to the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Catalogue no. 71-543-G.
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