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Education, training and learning

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Canada leads the OECD countries with the highest proportion of adults who have completed either a college or university education. In 2006, 6 out of 10 Canadians aged 25 to 64 had completed some form of postsecondary education.

Almost one in four adults aged 25 to 64—24%, or 4,156,700 people—had a high school diploma as their highest level of education; 15%, or 2,683,500, had not completed high school. Those who had not graduated from high school were concentrated in older age groups.

More university degrees

Canada had 17,382,100 adults aged 25 to 64 in the 2006 Census. The number with a university degree totalled 3,985,700, a 24% increase from 3,207,400 in 2001. In comparison, the number of adults who did not have a university degree rose 2%.

Canada ranked sixth among OECD countries in terms of the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 who had a university degree, tied with Australia and Korea at 23%.

Young adults have a higher level of educational attainment than their older counterparts. In 2006, 29% of those aged 25 to 34 had a university degree, well above the proportion of 18% among adults aged 55 to 64.

In 2006, 44% of the Aboriginal population were postsecondary graduates: 14% had trade credentials, 19% had a college certificate or diploma and 8% had a university degree.

A higher percentage of women than men aged 25 to 34 have a university degree: 33% of women versus 25% of men in 2006. These percentages were both higher than those among older adults aged 55 to 64, where 16% of women and 21% of men had a university degree.

Educated Canadians tend to be more mobile. University degree holders accounted for 23% of the adult population aged 25 to 64 in 2006, but comprised 33% of the people who moved to another province or territory from 2001 to 2006. Alberta and British Columbia had the biggest net inflows of postsecondary graduates, whereas Ontario recorded the biggest net outflows.

Fewer young adults are completing trades education than their parents. About 10% of adults aged 25 to 34 had a trade certification in 2006, compared with 13% of adults aged 55 to 64.

These young adults are also choosing different trades than the older generation of Canadians. For example, fewer young adults than older adults have a trade certificate in mechanic and repair technologies. On the other hand, more young adults than older adults have a certificate in personal and culinary services.

Immigrants highly educated

The 2006 Census counted 4,076,700 people aged 25 to 64 born outside Canada. Of these, 1,287,500, or about one-third (32%), had a university degree.

Slightly over half (51%) of recent immigrants to Canada—those who arrived from 2001 to 2006—had a university degree in 2006, compared with 28% of immigrants who arrived before 2001 and 20% of people born in Canada.