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Education indicators in Canada: An international perspective, 2016

Released: 2016-12-15

In 2015, 9 out of 10 people (90%) in Canada aged 25 to 64 had completed at least high school, well above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 78%. Only the Czech Republic (93%), Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Poland (all at 91%) had higher proportions. The United States matched Canada at 90%.

Within Canada, the proportion of 25 to 64 year olds who had completed at least high school was also higher than the OECD average in every province and territory except Nunavut (54%), ranging from 83% in the Northwest Territories to 93% in British Columbia.

In 2015, two-thirds of Canadians aged 25 to 64 had completed postsecondary education, well above the OECD average of 40%. Of this group, 30% had a university degree (bachelor's to doctoral), in line with the OECD average of 28%, while 37% attained other types of postsecondary education (college, trade or vocational), compared with the OECD average of 13%. The relatively high proportion of Canadians attaining other types of postsecondary education partly reflects Canada's extensive network of colleges, a system not seen in most other OECD countries.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Highest level of postsecondary education attained among 25- to 64-year-olds, 2015
Highest level of postsecondary education attained among 25- to 64-year-olds, 2015

Higher levels of education are generally linked to improved employment prospects. In Canada, the employment rate for adults aged 25 to 64 who had not completed high school (upper secondary education) was 55% in 2015, just below the OECD average of 56%. By comparison, the employment rate among individuals of the same age group was highest for those who had a college or university credential at 82%. This was slightly below the OECD average of 84%.

The resources devoted to education, as measured by the share of gross domestic product (GDP), varied across OECD countries. In 2013, Canada spent 6.0% of GDP on education compared with the OECD average of 5.2%. The share of GDP devoted to educational institutions varied within Canada, from 4.2% in Alberta (which had a relatively high GDP) to 8.8% in Nunavut.

In 2016, 13% of Canadians 15 to 29 years old were not in education, employment or training (NEET). The OECD average was 15%. In comparison with other G7 countries, Canada had a comparable proportion of NEET youth to the United Kingdom and the United States (both at 14%), but a higher proportion than Germany (9%) and Japan (10%).

In 2013/2014, Canadian full-time teachers in lower secondary institutions (generally equivalent to Grades 7 to 9) with 15 years of experience had the fourth-highest salaries among the 35 OECD countries at US$ 65,511, trailing Luxembourg (US$ 112,760), Germany (US$ 69,431) and the Netherlands (US$ 66,366). Within Canada, salaries for full-time teachers in lower secondary institutions with 15 years of experience ranged from US$ 54,836 in Prince Edward Island to US$ 81,591 in the Northwest Territories.

However, teachers in Canada spend more time teaching on average than their OECD counterparts. For example, in 2013/2014, primary teachers in Canada averaged 796 hours per year teaching, compared with an average of 776 for the OECD countries overall. Differences were also seen at the lower secondary level, with 743 hours per year in Canada versus the OECD average of 694 hours. At the upper secondary level (generally Grades 10 to 12), Canadian teachers taught an average of 744 hours, compared with 644 hours for the OECD.

Intergenerational mobility in education occurs when children attain a different level of education than either or both of their parents. In 2011, just over half (52%) of Canadians whose parents had completed at least high school but not college or university had attained a college or university diploma or degree. Only Korea had a larger proportion of its population achieving this type of mobility among the participating OECD member countries.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Percentage of 25- to 44-year-old non-students who had attained a college or university diploma or degree, but whose parents had only completed at least high school but not college or university: Canada, provinces and territories, OECD¹ and selected countries, 2012
Percentage of 25- to 44-year-old non-students who had attained a college or university diploma or degree, but whose parents had only completed at least high school but not college or university: Canada, provinces and territories, OECD¹ and selected countries, 2012

As well, 63% of Canadians with foreign-born parents with at least a high school diploma but no college or university qualification attained a college or university qualification, compared with 46% for those whose parents were born in Canada. The opposite is seen in the OECD average. The intergenerational mobility of Canadians with foreign-born parents was the second highest in the OECD following New Zealand.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of Canadians whose parents have a college or university qualification attained college or university qualifications, compared with the OECD average of 68%.

  Note to readers

The publication Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, 2016, is the eighth in a series of reports designed to complement the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) annual report on education indicators, Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators.

The 12 indicators presented in this 2016 Canadian compendium represent a selection of indicators that were developed to align with the definitions and methodologies used by the OECD in its most recent report, Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators. Data for Canada, the provinces and territories were drawn from several sources and various reference years, as required to provide comparisons with OECD figures.

The 2016 indicators for Canada, the provinces and territories capture information on educational attainment, graduation and completion 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. It also features an indicator that presents a selection of topics related to a 2012 assessment of adult literacy and numeracy, released in Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (Catalogue number89-555-X).

The information contained in the report was prepared by the Canadian Education Statistics Council, a partnership between Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. The report is part of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program of Statistics Canada.

Data for the OECD member countries are from the OECD publication Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators, available on the OECD website.

Products

The publication Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, 2016 (Catalogue number81-604-X), is now available.

The public is also invited to chat with an expert on Friday, December 16, 2016, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Eastern Time.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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