Aboriginal Peoples Survey, 2012

The Education and Employment Experiences of First Nations People Living Off Reserve, Inuit, and Métis: Selected Findings from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey


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This report describes the first findings from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS), presented at a national level. The survey’s thematic approach allows an unprecedented depth of analysis of a broad range of education and employment experiences among First Nations people living off reserve, Inuit and Métis. The current study focuses on those aged 18 to 44 and examines their education pathways as well as factors that are positively or negatively associated with high school completion. The analyses also look at postsecondary schooling, employment outcomes, and plans for further education or training of high school completers and leavers.

At the time of the 2012 APS, 72% of First Nations people living off reserve, 42% of Inuit, and 77% of Métis aged 18 to 44 had completed the requirements for a high school diploma or equivalent. Findings from this report suggest that the path to high school completion may not be straightforward. A variety of personal, family and school-level characteristics were found to be associated with high school completion among off-reserve First Nations people, Inuit and Métis. This is consistent with literature for the general population on school achievement, which suggests that multiple contexts in students’ lives should be taken into account to understand risk and protective factors for high school graduation.

The coming years will see many young First Nations, Inuit and Métis people enter the labour market, and the role of education will be pivotal in securing jobs. While learning outside the formal education system can lead to meaningful work and job satisfaction, the current analyses show a strong association between formal education and employment opportunities. Looking to the future, the majority of off-reserve First Nations people, Inuit and Métis indicated they planned to take further education toward obtaining a certificate, diploma or degree.

The 2012 APS is a rich source of data with great potential for further research. The analyses in this report are largely descriptive and point to areas where additional work is required so that the relationships can be more fully understood. For example, many of the factors associated with completing or leaving high school that were explored are, themselves, inter-related. It would be informative to investigate associations between high school completion and these factors when they are taken into account simultaneously.

Also, while the present report pertains to adults aged 18 to 44, data are available for off-reserve First Nations people, Inuit and Métis aged 6 or older. Thus, in keeping with a life-long learning framework, analysis of the education experiences of children and youth currently attending elementary and high school is possible, as well as those of individuals aged 45 or older.

While a broad range of factors was examined, other areas merit further study, including family history of residential school attendance and language. The 2012 APS also allows for research on topics such as health, housing, and mobility, not only at a national, but also, at a regional level. Data from the 2012 APS can be used by Aboriginal organizations, governments at all levels, service providers and researchers to inform decision-making and conduct academic studies.

Plans for future analytical products include reports on Inuit health, Métis employment, and the educational experiences of First Nations children and youth living off reserve.

More information about the 2012 APS can be found at:

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